Proper behavior as volunteer at local rink

Joined
Mar 25, 2014
So I wanted partly to vent but also wanted some advice and just general feedback on typical ice rink figure skating culture/atmosphere/environment based on some recent events.

So first the setup. I've been skating for a couple of years now, and am involved with the local rink's Learn to Skate program as a volunteer assistant (not a formal coach). This means I'm not under a formal contract or anything (i.e. coaches there have to sign a formal contract to teach X LTS classes per year and stuff), but I do help out with instructing the Adult LTS classes (Adult 1-6), along with an actual coach. This year with the new Learn to Skate USA thing I did get the Basic Instructor membership for that as well as a background check with my own money, at the rink's request. I'm not a PSA member, nor have I done the formal CER classes to be a coach. I'm not interested in being a coach. I primarily skate at the public sessions, rather than using the freestyle sessions, though I could use them if I wanted (I find the public sessions to be much better bang for my buck even though they're more crowded). I'm male, in my mid-30s, married, no kids.

Anyway, recently the Figure Skating Director at the local rink raised some concerns about my conduct. She doesn't power-trip or anything, so it's not an ego-trip on her part; rather, she's basically the messenger of anonymous feedback, mostly (I assume) either from parents and/or coaches. They boiled down to:

1. I shouldn't be doing coaching-like activities outside of the LTS program. This includes giving tips or feedback on what the students are doing outside of the LTS classes, i.e. during public sessions. The director explicitly said she likes that I want to be helpful and it's fine however I want to interact with "public" (i.e. non-student) skaters at public sessions. However, there were multiple issues with me interacting with LTS students at public sessions. The first is that when I talk to LTS students during public sessions and basically hand out free tips for whatever they're working on, it takes away from coaches being able to take those skaters on as paid private students. Apparently it's happened already where an LTS student canceled lessons with their coach with the reason that they can just ask me questions about what they're working on during public sessions anyway (or at least, according to what the director heard). Now I'm still struggling with back 3-turns and forward outside mohawks myself (working on Adult Silver MIF) so you can imagine the caliber of my advice compared with the coaches who can do axels and whatnot, but that was the concern. The second is that when I talk to students who do have private coaches, I may interrupt whatever technique their coach had laid out for them. I brought up the example of "even if I point out that their axel is severely tilted and that's why they're not landing them" (some students will ask me about higher-level skills that I can't do because they know I'm technically-minded about these skills) and the director said yes, those types of comments are not appropriate because it may cause the students to over-adjust based on my feedback rather than what their coach is having them focus on for a particular jump or skill. Basically that if a student already has a private coach, I shouldn't be giving them advice or tips or feedback on how or what they're doing. The third is a liability problem; when I help out with LTS instruction, during the LTS classes, I'm covered by the LTS insurance if anything should happen. However, during public sessions, I'm not covered, so if any skater happens to get injured and decides to sue, if it's from something I said during these public sessions (or if I was interacting with them at the time during public sessions), I'm personally liable for it. Thus it's a personal risk to be helping out students during public sessions.

2. I shouldn't be giving advice about what coaches students should look for. Because I'm not actually a coach but am a volunteer assistant helping with the instruction in the LTS program, in some ways I'm uniquely positioned on this, because I'm involved with the program so I know the coaches, yet am not a coach so am in some sense "neutral" in terms of my opinion about the different coaches. So from time to time, students and parents may ask me for opinions about if they're looking for a technical coach, or what coach works well with kids, etc., when they're looking for a private coach, and I'll respond honestly to the best of my knowledge about the different coaches. However, the director said that this was not appropriate and that it "simply is not done" at rinks, and that I should instead ask them about their own observations or ask them about who their child likes from the LTS program, etc., rather than give my personal evaluation of what the different coaches are good at.

3. I shouldn't be video-taping other students. This is partially related to #1, though is also its own issue. Obviously (if you can't tell from these forums) I do a lot of analysis using video, and I have lots and lots of videos of myself working on the different skills. However, I'm not good enough at spotting problems in real-time by watching skaters do them, especially jumps, since they go by so quickly. So when skaters ask me for example "how is my air position during axels" I basically take a video of them doing it, then show it to them in slow-motion to point out that their arms are flying out or they're opening up too early or whatever. So this is related to #1, that it seems like coaching-like activities, but the other problem is that now I as an adult male in his mid-30's have videos of underage girls doing skating stuff like spirals, spins, etc. where they may be in a "compromising" position so to speak. So this is more of a SafeSport concern. I asked the director about what if I have their parents' permission (since for some I did explicitly ask for permission, and others I've sent those videos to the parents and stuff (i.e. "your kid was doing these nice axels in public session today, good job!" so they're well aware of it; obviously I know the parents well enough to have their emails to do this). The director replied that unless I have express written permission from their parents to video record their kids, I shouldn't be doing it, to avoid the perception of it being inappropriate because of SafeSport. I don't know if this was actually a concern raised by others or if it was just something that came up as we were talking, since it was something that just came up as we were talking. The suggestion (that I brought up) was what about videotaping the students using their own phones, the director said that would be fine, but I still have the issues of #1. Obviously, even though parents have verbally said it's okay for me to do it, it seems a bit strange for me to have to whip out a form for them to sign to give me permission to video record their kids.

Anyway. I can be somewhat understanding of #3, although the parents of the students that I do video record are aware that I'm doing it. To what extent though is it because I'm a male in my mid-30s video recording underage girls? (I.e. would there be similar SafeSport concerns with a mid-30's female doing the same thing with underage girls or boys? Is this the type of bureaucracy that's expected for video recording?) Is it really common in rinks for students and volunteers and coaches to not point out obvious issues with skating technique like flutzing to each other, and just let the skater/coach find that out from tests and stuff? (I obviously am not able to point out subtle issues with skating technique, and only know about the obvious ones like flutzing or under-rotation.) Is it really the case that, outside of the LTS classes, volunteers and coaches are not supposed to be giving advice to students (except as a paid-for private lesson)? Is it really the case that people involved with the LTS program are not supposed to comment on the teaching abilities and specialties of the different coaches to students? I'm wondering if I really am overstepping the bounds of common decent behavior at rinks, or if this is particular to the culture at this particular rink.
 
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loopy

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 13, 2012
The director would be correct at our rinks.
Even though you think of yourself as a volunteer helper, you appear to every child and parent as a full coach. Even telling them you aren't isn't going to change their perspective.
1. Coaches never give free advice. They don't offer tips to skaters. Most importantly never to someone's students.

2. If a parent doesn't know which coach to ask to be their coach, i'd refer them to the director.

3. You appear to be a coach to the kids who ask you to tape them or critique them. For me it's not about the recording, it is that you are giving advice and correcting. Even though you point out you are not a coach, you have a perception of power and authority to young skaters and novice skating parents.

Outside of LTS, you should not be coaching or giving advice to students. Focus on your skating and ignore the kids or refer them to their coach or tell them you might cover it in the LTS session. You might take a break for the kids at public and do some freestyles to slowly break their habit of coming to you for advice.
 
Joined
Mar 25, 2014
1. Coaches never give free advice. They don't offer tips to skaters. Most importantly never to someone's students.

Why not? It's common for coaches and skaters to just let other skaters have wrong technique, etc.? Wait to find out from the judges if there are any problems with their skating? Things like flutzing or pre-rotating double toes are personal between them and their coach (and judges) and not something that others should point out?

2. If a parent doesn't know which coach to ask to be their coach, i'd refer them to the director.

There are about 30 coaches at this rink. No skater will really have experience with them all (for that matter, neither have I). The director herself takes private students. The rink doesn't have a centralized system of private lessons, i.e. private lessons aren't done through the rink but directly between skater and coach. (My understanding is that at some rinks, you go through the rink for private lessons, and thus through the director, but this isn't one of them.) Why is it inappropriate for someone to give their personal opinion about the different coaches when asked? Are you saying it's better for parents and skaters to cycle through the ~30 coaches themselves to figure out which one is best for the skater, rather than to get information about them?

3. You appear to be a coach to the kids who ask you to tape them or critique them. For me it's not about the recording, it is that you are giving advice and correcting. Even though you point out you are not a coach, you have a perception of power and authority to young skaters and novice skating parents.

I disagree with the details, though not the sentiment. The kids most definitely know I'm not a coach, nor do I portray myself as one. I was a fellow student with some of them, and they've now surpassed me in levels. (At our rink, we do have separate Basic and Adult classes, but once you're out of them, the Free Skate classes are combined.) On the other hand, they know that I'm a student who understands a lot of the technical stuff about the sport (edges, under-rotations, etc.), even if I can't do them myself. The kids who are on one-foot glides aren't the ones asking me for help; I work with the Adult classes, so I don't really interact with beginner kids. It's more the mid-level kids, i.e. the ones who were close to my level when I was taking those classes and are now on axels and double sal/toe and stuff, that ask me for help. (Kids higher level than that tend to use the freestyle sessions instead of public sessions so I don't see them that much.) They will ask each other for help as well (including video-recording and playing it back in slo-mo). However, they know that I know what to look for, so that's probably the authority that you're talking about. (If I say a jump was under-rotated, I'll likely be correct about it.) With the parents, it really depends. Some of them knew me before I started volunteering, others didn't.

I'm not disagreeing with anything you said (other than some of the details). However, I'm curious as to the reasoning behind this and what typical rink culture is like, and why it is the way it is. For example, if a coach's students tend to flutz, is it really the case that others aren't supposed to point it out and just let the parents (who may not understand the technical aspects) eventually figure out for themselves that their students have incorrect technique and switch to another coach (or realize it and tell the coach to fix it)? Do people feel that this is the most beneficial atmosphere for passing on the knowledge of how to skate? Is it really the case that people involved with the LTS program aren't supposed to comment on the different abilities of different coaches, and let the parents and skaters try out all the coaches themselves in the absence of information? Is this the most efficient way to pair up skaters with coaches most suited for them?
 
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Pink Ice

Rinkside
Joined
Aug 26, 2016
I agree with Loopy for the most part, numbers 1-3 sound like coaching to me, and that is not what you are there to do. I am a little more in the direction of feeling that the video recording is both a safety issue and a coaching issue. At our rink, there is no video recording or picture taking of any minor child by anyone who is not a parent or coach, period, and they indicate basically one would get kicked out of the rink for doing so. I am at a level slightly below yours and understand how easy it can be to give advice to newbies, especially if you know them, after all, we remember learning some basics not so long ago. But it really is not our place, especially on public, when you are not officially volunteering. I know as a newer skater my own coach gets a bit frustrated if I have been receiving advice from well-meaning other adult skaters on certain elements because it gets confusing and often makes things more complicated than they need to be. Her view of where I should be at a stage of learning is often different than a non coach. I also would get irritated if I were a coach and heard my students were getting jump advice from someone who does not even do those jumps yet, regardless of how well you think you understand it technically, coach or non coach status notwithstanding.
 

Alex D

Record Breaker
Joined
Sep 23, 2013
I think this is a different topic to discuss, without being there.

From the information provided, I see you as a very active and supportive member of the figure skating family at your local ring. In todays times, this can raise questions about the motives, as we are living in a very self focused society these days and yes, if kids are involved, people can look for reasons why you bother with them and not older people.

Since you are not a coach, you have no reason to be there, in the eyes of others and if you tape their kids they start to question why.

I am honest with you, if I would see a stranger at the pitch when we practice and he has a video camera or is trying to get in touch with the kids, then I would also ask that person about his reasons.
This is the responsibility of an official coach or manager at a sports facility / club for kids. Kids, especially the girls like attention and are an easy target for a specific type of person who will abuse that.
Therefore, coaches and officials, but also parents are very sensetive in this regard. Is it overprotective, yes it is, but if something happens, you will not only lose your job, but also have to live with the knowledge of letting it happen.

This for the basic situation and maybe an explanation why people are suspicious and I fully understand if it makes you sad or angry, as you just want to help.

I am not a figure skating coach, so I do not know how helpful feedback can be, from someone who is not a coach, but a second - independend opinion is usually very welcome if requested. That being said, each coach has a reason why he or she tells it´s students to do something in a certain way and your feedback could interfer with their goals and workflow. As for example, an athlete might not have the strength to do an element in a certain way and if you tell that athlete to do it in such a way and he or she injures herself, then the coach will be responsible or the club, as they let it happen.

Personally, if someone tries to coach I get angry too :) but if I ask for a second opinion, usually from the coaches of the higher ranked teams, I am greatful.

That "coaches" are fired, might have more to do with their own quality than you giving feedback, obviously the parents or kids liked yours more, maybe because of your personality or skill, I don´t know.

What was said about the written permission of the parents is, however, a very important thing to consider. Parents, especially if they are very obsessed with their kids, can become your biggest nightmare in the sports world. Don´t take anything for granted, always get a written document first.
If one of their daughters injures herself, because of an advice by you, then you will be called to court. Your role is not protected so to speak, a coach will have an insurance, you won´t and you can be sure that parents will squeeze every penny out of your pockets even if they asked for your advice.

As for the taping, just think about it for a second. You have lots of footage and all of a sudden, a kid tells their parents that you touched them in a certain way or just gave another kid more attention, so a story is made up to ruin your reputation. Without the written permission, each second of tape, will be used against you.

You won´t be the first who will be dragged on court, because of hurt feelings by a teenager.

To sum all this up,

give advice as an official coach, but don´t as a volunteer (advice about techniques especially). If you tape or interact with the kids, get a written permission by your club and parents first, don´t rely on spoken words, they have no relevance on court.
 

karne

in Emergency Backup Mode
Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 1, 2013
Country
Australia
Okay, here is what I see in this thread so far.

The skating director has brought up absolutely legitimate complaints and is completely right on every count. Loopy's response was also completely correct on every count. You have been vastly overstepping your bounds as a volunteer helper.

I saw this thread earlier in the day when I could not respond and was interested to see how you would react to Loopy's excellent post. Your response is not what I was hoping to read and in fact reminds me of the technical panel thread from some time ago. You are being stubborn and perhaps deliberately obtuse. If a student is developing a flutz, that is between the student, the coach, and the judges. It is NOT your business. If there are 30 coaches at the rink, yes, you need to leave the parents to decide how best to figure out which is the best coach for their child. Kids don't always get semantics. They see you helping out at the LTS, they see you giving advice, whether you like it or not they think you're a coach - or someone they can use in place of a coach.

As for the taping of other students, what were you thinking?! A non-parent/non-coach adult taping a minor child is OF COURSE going to be looked at sideways, especially in this day and age. Use some common sense! I can't even get anyone to record my programs in competition without a recording form - and I'm no minor!
 

Seren

Wakabond Forever
Record Breaker
Joined
Dec 21, 2014
Loopy and Karne are exactly right. You are not a coach and should not be giving advice outside of LTS. Firstly, it is really innapropriate. Secondly, you open yourself up to legal issues if someone hurts themselves based on your advice. It is also innapropriate because as is already mentioned a skaters technique is between them, their coach, and the judges.

Lastly, taping minor children when you are not their coach is hugely innapropriate and if I saw someone at my rink doing that I would report them to the skating director. As a physical therapist I often use video for my clients but ALWAYS use our companies iPad. I would NEVER use my own devices. Especially not for a minor.

I know you mean well but the skating director is absolutely correct and if you don't listen to them you are jaepordizing your ability to assist in LTS classes or even skate at your rink.
 
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Joined
Mar 25, 2014
I am at a level slightly below yours and understand how easy it can be to give advice to newbies, especially if you know them, after all, we remember learning some basics not so long ago. But it really is not our place, especially on public, when you are not officially volunteering.

Yeah and part of it is also that when I was starting out, and people could see I was a newbie adult skater in the LTS classes practicing at the public sessions, they were willing to help me if I asked for advice on skills. On the other hand, it was fellow adult skaters (including the then-Basic Skills Instructor who helped out with the adult classes) helping a fellow adult skater, rather than them helping out a kid. (One of the fellow adult skaters who helped me out turned out to be the rink owner.)

From the information provided, I see you as a very active and supportive member of the figure skating family at your local ring. In todays times, this can raise questions about the motives, as we are living in a very self focused society these days and yes, if kids are involved, people can look for reasons why you bother with them and not older people.

Since you are not a coach, you have no reason to be there, in the eyes of others and if you tape their kids they start to question why.

Actually I take anyone who wants to ask me questions. That includes "public" skaters (the ones who ask me tend to be college age and up, kids are too shy I think) and other adult skaters, not just kids. However, the specific issue was with kids and adults who are also in the LTS program at the rink. The director specifically said I can interact with "public" skaters however I want and it's fine, it's the LTS students that are the concern. I'm there because I'm working on figure skating skills myself, though I suppose people can certainly question why I'm willing to spend some time helping out other students rather than just working on my own skills the whole time. I also help out with other stuff at the rink, not just the LTS program, mostly because I know the owner now through the rink.

I am honest with you, if I would see a stranger at the pitch when we practice and he has a video camera or is trying to get in touch with the kids, then I would also ask that person about his reasons.

Yeah I think part of the issue is that I'm in the middle gray area -- not quite a coach, but not quite a student either. For example, the students will video-record each other doing stuff, and give each other advice about how to do stuff, and I don't think anyone has issues with that. But others can take it as me being an unofficial coach and/or an adult helping out with kids when I do it. I'm not a "stranger" per se, but what makes it murky is that the parents know I'm involved with the LTS program, so there's some perception of it being "official" or sanctioned even though it's not.

This for the basic situation and maybe an explanation why people are suspicious and I fully understand if it makes you sad or angry, as you just want to help.

Yeah I guess it may have to do with how people learn and the environment that people prefer to be in. For me, I tend to be very visual, so I need to see what I'm doing, so videos help me immensely because I won't really "feel" (through body awareness) that I'm bending at the waist or my arms are in the wrong position or whatever, until I see a video of myself and then say "man that's what I look like? Why didn't people tell me earlier?" This especially so for skills like jumps where things happen too quickly, where it's helpful for me to look at myself doing them frame-by-frame to see what my shoulders are doing, what my hips are doing, the timing, etc. When I started out with classes, people were friendly and generous with the advice that they gave when I saw them at public sessions. For example, the rink owner (I didn't know he was the rink owner for a while) helped me up through 3-turns, waltz jumps, and spread eagles, which were the limits of his ability. (He bought the rink a few years ago for the sake of his daughters when the original owners were going to shut the rink down, so he's not someone who skated when he was young; like me he learned as an adult.) However, it seems like nowadays people are very sensitive about this type of stuff, and helping out without obvious personal benefit, especially video-recording.

(Which brings up a tangential question: A lot of the world's elite skaters are underage, even though they are performing and competing very much publicly. Do the same written permissions apply, especially with news media? Is it bad to be viewing and downloading Olympics/Worlds/Nationals competition videos from YouTube when I very much don't have written permission from their parents to do so?)

I personally do get unsolicited (and unpaid) advice from time to time from a number of the coaches at the rink when they see me at public sessions. On the other hand, we see each other more as informal friends, rather than a formal "I'm a coach and you're a student ripe for the picking" type of relationship, and obviously, we're all adults.

I am not a figure skating coach, so I do not know how helpful feedback can be, from someone who is not a coach, but a second - independend opinion is usually very welcome if requested. That being said, each coach has a reason why he or she tells it´s students to do something in a certain way and your feedback could interfer with their goals and workflow. As for example, an athlete might not have the strength to do an element in a certain way and if you tell that athlete to do it in such a way and he or she injures herself, then the coach will be responsible or the club, as they let it happen.

Well keep in mind, my advice, especially on jumps, is pretty limited, because I'm aware that different coaches will have different techniques such as where the head should be facing, where the arms should be, etc. For jumps, that's not what I point out. Instead, it is almost always 1) is the jump under-rotated or not 2) are they taking off of the correct edge (for lutz) 3) are they opening up too early in the air, thus killing their rotation 4) are they pre-rotating too much prior to take-off (such as for double toe). For example, recently one of the skaters was asking about being under-rotated when doing an axel, she couldn't feel if she was or not, so I took a few videos to show her that her landing foot does indeed slide forward into a 3-turn for a few frames before sliding back into the outside edge landing position. I don't really get into timing issues (i.e. when the shoulders or hips should snap) or posture issues (such as how high the free leg should be when taking off for the axel) or other technical issues along this vein.

That "coaches" are fired, might have more to do with their own quality than you giving feedback, obviously the parents or kids liked yours more, maybe because of your personality or skill, I don´t know.

Actually in this case, part of the problem is that I myself don't know all the details. In this case, the students are adult students in the LTS program. They are still actively taking the Adult classes. (The Adult classes are not taught by just me, but an actual coach along with me, I'm their assistant.) Their daughter is in the LTS program as well as taking lessons with a private coach. I do talk to them (not their daughter) sometimes during public sessions when we see each other, though it's not always about skating (we didn't know beforehand but we had taken the same dance classes a while back along with my wife, so when they took up skating they were like "oh! You look familiar!" etc.). They apparently took a few lessons with their daughter's private coach and decided to stick with LTS classes and talking to me during public sessions instead. I don't know to what extent the director's info is from them telling the coach about why they're not taking more lessons versus the coach's own observations from seeing us at public sessions. From my perspective it's a mistake since the coach is very competent and they'll get much better advice from her than from me, but naturally it's awkward to ask the students about it.

To sum all this up,

give advice as an official coach, but don´t as a volunteer (advice about techniques especially). If you tape or interact with the kids, get a written permission by your club and parents first, don´t rely on spoken words, they have no relevance on court.

Yeah I guess it just seems like the skating culture is very different. Were I a TA at a university, nobody would care that the TA helps out the students with homework on his own time when he sees them in the computer lab, rather than just sticking with his official office hours. Heck, I've done that both as a TA and as an instructor, even if I wasn't the instructor for their course. There's more of a sense of "we're all in this together, trying to understand this weird math" or whatever the subject happens to be. But it seems like in the skating world, it's a lot more "isolationist" and a lot less cooperative. People should just work on their own thing and not help others out unless it's a direct coach-skater relationship. When students ask you about skills like if they're on the right edge or not, you're supposed to refer them to their own coach, rather than pointing out obvious flaws with their technique, or let them figure out for themselves. When parents ask about what coaches are good for different aspects of skating, you're not supposed to give the information you have, but let them figure it out themselves. There are threads on these forums where posters talk about how coach X would work better with skater Y than their current coach and stuff, so posters obviously think it's fine to discuss this in the abstract. But when it's a situation where it could affect someone personally, like parents asking about which coaches at a rink are more technically-oriented, it becomes off-limits.


Okay, here is what I see in this thread so far.

I don't know why you like to come into these threads with your flamethrower gear on and berate and cast aspersions on other posters for asking about things. This is a discussion board, where people are allowed to discuss issues in depth, not an opinion poll where people just state their position and that's it with no further explanation. What I'm looking for is to understand the rink culture. As I said to Loopy, I didn't disagree with the sentiment, but I'm asking about why. Your post basically just flames another poster and provide your own commentary about how others post without actually giving any relevant information about the content that was asked. Why do you think your types of posts are productive or beneficial or acceptable?
 
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Alex D

Record Breaker
Joined
Sep 23, 2013
guest said:
Yeah I guess it just seems like the skating culture is very different. Were I a TA at a university, nobody would care that the TA helps out the students with homework on his own time when he sees them in the computer lab, rather than just sticking with his official office hours. Heck, I've done that both as a TA and as an instructor, even if I wasn't the instructor for their course. There's more of a sense of "we're all in this together, trying to understand this weird math" or whatever the subject happens to be. But it seems like in the skating world, it's a lot more "isolationist" and a lot less cooperative. People should just work on their own thing and not help others out unless it's a direct coach-skater relationship.

When students ask you about skills like if they're on the right edge or not, you're supposed to refer them to their own coach, rather than pointing out obvious flaws with their technique, or let them figure out for themselves. When parents ask about what coaches are good for different aspects of skating, you're not supposed to give the information you have, but let them figure it out themselves. There are threads on these forums where posters talk about how coach X would work better with skater Y than their current coach and stuff, so posters obviously think it's fine to discuss this in the abstract. But when it's a situation where it could affect someone personally, like parents asking about which coaches at a rink are more technically-oriented, it becomes off-limits.

The part about not giving advice,

is mostly an insurance problem. As I tried to explain, you are not an official coach and it can be dangerous for the athletes if someone, without a licence gives too much advice. (you don´t know an athletes medical records for instance) It´s not meant in a bad way, please don´t understand it like that, but safety comes first in sports and the people who are responsible for these kids, are those who work with them or offer them the ice. If anyone get´s hurt, the parents / lawyers will come to those at the ice rink and ask questions, as of why "a non coach" was allowed to coach and this can end up badly, up to a complete closure of the rink and loss of licence.

As for helping in general,

Help is a rare thing these days, something that especially people who are helpful and open minded, can find disturbing. I often offer advice and help where it´s not wanted, it´s something you have to accept and move along. At the other hand, there will be moments where your help is needed and you should try to focus on those.

Maybe, there is a chance to get an official job there, something like an assistant or trainee? Or you could open up a YT channel and ask parents if they want you to record their kids, so that they can watch it later? (remember the written permission though).

I don´t know enough about the US American skating system or how coaches work there and what opportunities someone might have, if he want´s to get more involved there, but I really think you should not let it discourage you, you want to help and that is great. You just need to find the right spot and time to do so. :thumbsup:
 
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loopy

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 13, 2012
You are asking why you shouldn't give lessons or refer to specific coaches.

It's like an employee telling people Twix is better than a Snickers bar and they should only buy Twix because it is a better product. They are both made by Mars. The only people you are hurting are people who only make Snickers. And you are helping people with Twix get a bonus. When really the market will support both and some people naturally like one more than the other. It is standing in the middle of a business and directing business when you have no "right" to do this. See employees - even individually contracted are team members. You don't send all the kids to coach A because coach A is (to you) a better coach than coach B. Mostly because it causes strife in the business and you are not the director or a coach so to do so is very inappropriate.

Regarding video and photos:
Yes, at USFS competitions you agree to release your image as well as a host of other items when you sign up to compete to approved media outlets.

RE the TA example - My adult child was a TA for the last 2 years and, No, he would never help a student in the library. He has office hours and an email, if you need help outside of class and office hours, he will work with you but not when he is there studying for his own class. Part of it is appearances - you don't want to appear to have favorites or an inappropriate relationship with a student.

If you want to coach, I think you should become an official coach, you can donate your fees to charity if you want to do it for free. But don't interfere with coaches who are doing this as their career.

Finally as a parent, when I have my skater on the ice, she has one job, to work hard. That means not talking to other skaters. She says hi, sorry, and excuse me, but no conversations or having someone record her other than myself. No matter how it is intended, it is a distraction. Skaters need to rely on themselves (oh this jumps doesn't feel right - I need to remember what my coach told me at my last lesson and try this or talk to my coach in my next lesson) and their coach (the coach might think, She doesn't get it - we have had 4 lessons on x - she is doing it wrong, how else can I show her? What else can I try...). Instead you are intercepting and that coach might not see that her teaching something didn't work for that student and when it comes to the next big thing it will hinder progress. For example, a coach could tell my daughter something over and over and it wouldn't sink in, so frustrated, the coach would put her body in the right position and then she could feel how she was supposed to be. And suddenly she was learning faster. The coach learned she learns best by doing something and feeling the rightness and words don't work. As he coached, he would add words. Then when she was a pre-teen, all she needed was the words. You are blocking/interrupting that organic learning process between coach and student.
 

NanaPat

Record Breaker
Joined
Oct 25, 2014
Country
Canada
I have had experience as a volunteer in a totally different context (no children or ice skating involved). Basically, when I was a volunteer, I was working with program participants under the direction of a physiotherapist, a nurse, and a program director. Inevitably, some problems arise in this type of relationship.

At least one volunteer had trouble recognizing that the physiotherapist was responsible for prescribing which exercises were suitable for each participant, taking their particular circumstances into account. Despite being told many times that she shouldn't demonstrate un-assigned exercises or encourage participants to do un-assigned exercises of HER choice, she persisted in doing so. Not sure what actually happened, but there was some kind of blow-up. She quit being a volunteer and organized her own little exercise group that took place during a public session. I believe this was the ideal solution for her situation. As long as she was associated with the program, the three professionals who were involved were responsible for what happened and the program was "medically supervised"; when she did it on her own at a public session, the people in her group were seeking her help AS A FRIEND and and they alone were responsible for what happened. They were only bound by the general rules that applied to any public session.

My situation was different: I felt the volunteers were often in a CATCH-22 situation, where things would come up (mostly administrative, not affecting the actual exercises that the participants were doing) and none of the supervisors were available for consultation. I'd use my best judgment, never knowing if a particular action was going to elicit praise (most likely) or scorn (occasional). When I got reamed out by the director for doing something the physiotherapist had asked me to do, I quit as a volunteer in a bit of a huff.

Several months later, I learned that one of the participants had lost the services of a friend who was assisting her in with the program, and I volunteered to be her personal assistant. This has worked out very well: I can do things for her that I couldn't do as a volunteer, I don't feel I'm wasting my time, there is no ambiguity about what I should be doing, and I'm only answerable to one person. Hooray!

It seems to me that you are in a similar situation as a volunteer. When you are volunteering, you are working under the direct supervision of the coach (and I hope they are actually available to you!) But when you're being a friendly-helper outside the LTS program, you're answerable only to yourself (and the rules of the public sessions). But it's hard to keep the lines drawn between the two roles. It does seem to me that you are carrying over an "aura" from being involved in the LTS program to your public-session activities. This is especially true when children are involved, as they very likely do see you as a coach, however many times you may tell them you're not.

So here's my advice, though I know you're not going to like it:
- choose between being a LTS volunteer and being a friendly helper at public skates . They really don't mix well, and only you can decide which is more important to you.
- if you do choose being a friendly helper at public skates, only help/talk to/interact with adult skaters. Any interaction with children is open to misinterpretation.
 

sandraskates

Final Flight
Joined
Oct 31, 2006
Country
United-States
I am a Coach / Ambassador at my rink. I have the same credentialing as you Guest, along with PSA CER C, plus I passed my adult Gold freestyle test and some dance tests.

As a C/A on an hourly wage I can either assist in, or have my own Learn to Skate classes. I also work the public sessions randomly assisting newbie skaters of all ages for a few minutes to make sure they get off to a good start. However, I can also be booked privately for what are mostly very basic lessons; the fee is paid straight to the rink.

Occasionally I will be booked to give a supplemental lesson to either a skater up to Basic 4 or Pre-free. If this skater also takes private lessons with a full-fledged coach I will always let that skater know that if I cause a conflict in instruction, they should defer to their regular coach. (Although I believe that different points of view and alternative instructional tips are beneficial).

There is a little girl that loves to skate but comes from a money-challenged family. She likes me and expects me to teach her on the public sessions, not understanding that when she sees me or another blue-jacketed coach teaching someone that an exchange of money was involved.
While I may give her a tip or two I keep it very brief. I'd love to take her aside and teach her but I can't, sadly.

There has even been blowback at the rink when a non-coach spent a lot of time on a public session giving what really amounted to lessons to another money-challenged skater. She was told to dial way back.

It comes down to “stepping on the toepicks” of the longtime, dedicated, full-fledged coaches. Since I'd like to evolve into one I stay very conscious to NOT do that.

As for video-taping skaters to critique their skating, again – you're stepping on others toepicks, plus your video-taping could be misconstrued as other have said.

It's a different skating world than the one I've passed through for 25+ years. There is more structure, more scrutiny.

I would suggest that you too dial back on your assistance. I know it's hard – I know a million ways to teach an axel and hope to get a chance to pull some of those tips out one day. But for now, I smile and use restraint.

Good discussion topic BTW.
 
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Joined
Mar 25, 2014
If anyone get´s hurt, the parents / lawyers will come to those at the ice rink and ask questions, as of why "a non coach" was allowed to coach and this can end up badly, up to a complete closure of the rink and loss of licence.

Yeah actually IIRC (correct me if I'm wrong) coaches have to sign up or be officially employed at a rink (either as a formal employee or as an independent vendor/contractor or whatever) to coach there, i.e. a coach can't simply just waltz into any rink and start giving instruction to private students there, they have to get the rink's permission first through some means. That is to say, even if someone is a full PSA-certified CER A coach, already hired at multiple rinks or whatever (i.e. plenty of skating credentials), if he goes to another rink he still has to go through whatever that rink's procedure is for being allowed to teach, he can't just start using their public sessions or whatever for his private students. I figured it was more to ensure that rinks get their cut of the money, but I can see that it's for liability reasons as well. (I assume there are exceptions for things like, if an out-of-town coach is at a rink for a competition there.) Obviously (or at least hopefully) students won't sue if a TA gave incorrect advice about how to tackle exams and such, so it doesn't have the same sense of liability and thus control and regulation needed as for a rink.

Maybe, there is a chance to get an official job there, something like an assistant or trainee? Or you could open up a YT channel and ask parents if they want you to record their kids, so that they can watch it later? (remember the written permission though).

Well I'm not looking to be a coach. I already help out at the rink in other ways, not just with the LTS program; for example lately I've been working with the rink owner on how the rink might install an overhead projection system (similar to here, but nowhere near that fancy). So if you hear about a rink's new overhead multimedia system collapsing in a few months, it may well be me.

Helping out with the LTS program is because 1) it's where I began 2) I'm grateful for the coaches for helping me out when I was a student under LTS 3) it helps me understand the skills better and 4) as I discussed with the director previously (not recently), my being involved with the LTS program is actually not so much instructing the adults (which I do) but to be a visible sign that "yes, adults can do it too" for the "next generation" of beginner adults at the rink; I specifically asked to help out with the Adult classes, not the regular Basic classes. There is a relatively narrow window of opportunity for me to do that. I mean, once a skater starts doing axels and flying spins and stuff it becomes more difficult to convince a newbie that "hey, I can do that too" and they see the skater as more akin to entertainment on TV instead of as someone whom they can relate to. For me they can see that I'm a work in progress just like them as opposed to the coaches. It's why it's surprising to me that those adult students would cancel lessons with their private coach on account of being able to talk to me at public sessions; they see me with the same struggles on my back 3-turns as they have with their forward 3-turns, where I know the theory but it's hard to get the body to do it (rocking the weight on the blade slightly toward the toe (forward) or heel (back) during the turn, twisting the body to face the direction you're about to turn, having the knees bend then rise then bend, etc.). So they know I haven't "figured it out" so to speak (although I can show them proper forward 3-turns which is what they're working on). I'd like to help out the skaters at the rink with whatever abilities I have, but if that's not appropriate in the general skating culture, well certainly I'm not going to be changing the culture.

Mostly because it causes strife in the business and you are not the director or a coach so to do so is very inappropriate.

So is it that it's more of a social issue than say a liability issue? I.e. I don't know all the coaches, so when parents ask me about coaches I'll naturally only mention the ones that I actually know about. But then referring them to the director, presumably the director is looking at the overall "Mars" so to speak and knows the capability of all the coaches, so she'll be a better reference and guide for the parents? In this case I don't know if there's somewhat of a conflict of interest since the director herself takes on private students ("You're looking for a private coach? Well, I just happen to have a slot open on Saturday afternoons...") but I don't think the director at this rink would take advantage of that. The rink has around 30 coaches for roughly 150 or so students (I'm not sure of the exact number, but I think it was around there) so it's really a "buyer's market" for skaters and I would imagine competition is pretty fierce for students; many of the coaches would want more students than what they have now.

Looking at the situation differently though: Is it inappropriate for students to share their opinions about the different coaches? Is it inappropriate for parents to compare notes about the coaches? Why is it okay for a coach to discuss their opinions about the other coaches with parents? It would seem to me (correct me if I'm wrong) that in the former cases, students and parents are customers of the product, so it's fine to inform each other. Whereas for coaches, there's a "mutually vulnerable" thing (if you talk smack about a coach, they could talk smack about you in return) so coaches will typically avoid saying bad stuff, or the customer knows that the coaches are self-interested in their evaluations of other coaches so will take that into account when asking coaches. Whereas I'm in the middle as a volunteer and thus not susceptible to the "mutually vulnerable" thing (I'm not looking to take on private students), and yet can potentially be biased toward some coaches or others without having met them all. And especially if parents are asking me about coaches then they're on that cusp of moving from group lessons to private lessons (or combination of both) and thus it's particularly socially sensitive.

I guess to frame this another way: Say I were just an adult student, not involved with the LTS program, but taking private lessons. Would it still be inappropriate for me to comment on different coaches when parents ask me about them? I'm wondering to what extent is this because I'm in the middle gray area, or if it's common at rinks that even students and parents will not discuss how good the coaches are or what the specialties of the coaches are with other students and parents.

Yes, at USFS competitions you agree to release your image as well as a host of other items when you sign up to compete to approved media outlets.

Good to know. I'd hate to have to get rid of all the frame-by-frame analysis I have of Yulia videos.

RE the TA example - My adult child was a TA for the last 2 years and, No, he would never help a student in the library.

Well I'm certainly not saying that TA's are supposed to help out outside of office hours or that they have to if they don't want to. Just that I don't think people see it as a cause for concern, as long as the TA is equally accessible to everyone.

Instead you are intercepting and that coach might not see that her teaching something didn't work for that student and when it comes to the next big thing it will hinder progress.

Yeah what I can think of is the following example. Say, a coach knows that to do a certain jump correctly, the skater needs to learn A, then B, then C, then D, then E. Things like snapping the torso/shoulders at the right time, hip movement, foot placement, etc. Maybe the skater is working on B (having already worked on A) currently. The coach knows that the skater still needs to learn C, D, and E, but wants the skater to get B down first. Now say step D is something really obvious that I can see (such as correct edge on a lutz) whereas the others are more subtle (such as hip movement) that I'm not good at picking out. So the skater asks me "hey can you look at how I'm doing this jump" and obviously I'm going to point out that D is incorrect, so the skater ends up trying to figure out D. Then the coach starts wondering why the heck is the skater trying to do D when the coach hasn't asked the skater to do that yet, when the skater should trying to get B right. Are issues along these lines the problem with interacting with students about jumps or other skills when they already have a private coach?

So in these situations, should I just say "talk about that with your coach"? Or ask what the coach has been telling them to do? Or give them the cold shoulder?
 
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TGee

Record Breaker
Joined
Sep 17, 2016
I've found this discussion interesting because Guest, although you are quite a dedicated volunteer, it doesn't sound a though were made familiar with what many would see is basic ground rules of clubs and coaching. You sound surprized by the reaction you've received. And it sounds as though you feel let down to be put in an uncomfortable situation when you feel you were genuinely trying to help. It's unfortunate that you were filled in after you'd unintentionally made some waves.

I'm not clear which national federation's rules your club is in. In ours, all of the concerns raised would be the same. There are very clear rules that no one but certified coaches can give advice on or near the ice, and program assistant volunteers are advised of the limits of their roles during their orientation and training. Skater, parent, coach and volunteer "diplomacy" is definitely covered at our club. Media permissions from parents are required for taking photos, and the club's board is responsible for oversight over both photo taking and use.

Your skill with video might be helpful to your club in ways that you haven't explored yet. For example, does your club need someone to video skaters during simulations prior to competitions? This could be a way to offer your skill with parental approval and the support of coaches.

You may want to look at the blog Skaters Dad. I've found helpful as I sort out what is okay and not in the skating world. And he is very much into photography, and may have suggestions that may help you.
 
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concorde

Medalist
Joined
Jul 29, 2013
guest - From what you have said, I think your heart is in the right place but I stop there.

What you are doing poses a huge liability to the rink. You did not like the TA example so let us move to a different example that also has liability issues - law firms. Law firms carry malpractice insurance and if one of their lawyers gives bad advice (or even fails to mention a relevant issue), the firm can be found guilty of malpractice. That insurance is really intended to cover the lawyers but some firms also staff non-attorney specialists. Non-attorney specialists need to clearly identify themselves as a non-attorneys or there becomes an issue with the firm's malpractice insurance. I think the issue here is people view you as a coach (attorney) when you are not one. You think this is pretty cool so you do not correct them which in turn, poses liability issues to the rink. The rink has now brought this to your attention and they want it stopped. If you chose not to follow rink's instructions, my guess is they will have no choice but to terminate you.

Giving out minor tweaks is also bad. Each technique has a established sequence that needs to happen for a student to "get it." If you try to by-pass part of that sequence, than I believe you are causing more harm than good. Establishing good technique from the beginning is important in the long term. It is much easier to break a bad technique early on then to break it after it is formed. Without you realizing this, you may be passing on bad techniques to those around you.

Giving out coaching recommendations. My guess is you a non-paid volunteer who really enjoys skating - basically this is a fun weekend hobby (meant in the best way). But to coaches, this it their livelihood and you was messing with it. What would you think if a non-professional (but is viewed as an expert in your professional field) recommended Company A over Company B? Company A may or may not have the required qualifications but the non-professional just happens to "like" Company A; Company B is the company you work for and it is extremely qualified for the work. My guess is you would be rather tweaked since it that recommendation can now adversely affect your livelihood.

Do parents of skaters of give out advice who is a good vs. bad coach? Parents talk among themselves about the coaches, skaters, the rinks, competitions, schools, etc (how else would you expect them to kill the time?). Personally I have never told at parent that coach X is bad vs good - my standard advice is each coach has positives and negatives and both the skaters/coaches personality needs to be taken into account as well as where the skater currently is and what the skaters want to accomplish. And just because a coach does not work now, does not means that coach will never be a great fit. One of my daughter's current coaches she left ~4 years ago and she is now back with him. Also, certain coaches specialize in different ways - some only take adults vs. kids, some mainly coach for MIF tests, some specialize in jumps, etc but even with those specialty coaches, there are exceptions. All that needs to be taken into account when choosing a coach. And sometimes, the "best" coach is the only coach that has an opening when you can make it.

Filming other student - I find that creepy.

As I said in my opening, I think your intent is good but your actions need to change.
 
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sandraskates

Final Flight
Joined
Oct 31, 2006
Country
United-States
My brief take on coach selection at different ages:

Little kids and coach selection: I've noticed that the little kids in group lessons decide which coach they like best or find some affinity with. If the parent decides to supplement the group lessons with private, they will arrange a lesson with the kid's favorite coach. (That has been me on occasion, and for low-level instruction the full-time coaches don't care).

Teens and coach selection: They are more aware of the personalities and teaching styles of many of the coaches they see out on the ice. And they may talk amongst their skater friends about the various coaches' personalities and teaching styles. They may take some proactivity and ask if they can try a lesson with a coach other than their own. Some kids (even adults) have more than one coach for various skills they wish to perfect. As has been pointed out - some coaches specialize.

Adults (over 18 but not National competitors): They look around and ask fellow skaters about the various coaches at the rink, then decide which coach they want to approach and hope their first choice has an opening. Or they talk directly with their primary coach for recommendations on supplementary coaching for specialization or choreography.

I have a high regard for all the professional coaches at my rink. While I could easily rank who I think is "best overall" to "least", I keep that to myself. I will never bad-mouth any coach at my rink because they are all extremely dedicated and all of them produce some level of success in their pupils.

In my own experience, if I was on a skating session and saw a PEER skater (meaning another adult near my level) trying a jump but noticed they were, say, breaking at the waist, I might say something simple like, "Oh, you were soooooo close. Just a little break at the waist." But nothing more than that.
If the skater then came up to ask for further advice and correction then that would get the "talk more about that with your coach" from me.
As I said before there is more scrutiny and even a "layman" got in trouble at my rink for perceived free coaching.

Dial back Guest.
 
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Lysambre

Final Flight
Joined
Apr 1, 2015
First of all : videotaping minors in the exact way you are describing is absolutely creepy. And every single word you are using to try to justify yourself on that subject only makes you appear even more creepy.

You asked for answers on whether your behavior was wrong, you were given answers, mutiple times, every single one going in the same direction (ie: yes, your behaviour was wrong), but somehow it seems that rather than actually hearing what people are saying, you prefer to justify yourself(again), on why *you* don't think it's wrong.

That's not a discussion. It's you behaving in a way that would have had you removed from many rinks and then refusing to admit you were wrong. It's not that difficult to understand. If you need to keep justifying and explaining your behaviour, then it's very obviously not clear nor right for anyone but yourself.
 
Joined
Mar 25, 2014
It seems to me that you are in a similar situation as a volunteer. When you are volunteering, you are working under the direct supervision of the coach (and I hope they are actually available to you!) But when you're being a friendly-helper outside the LTS program, you're answerable only to yourself (and the rules of the public sessions). But it's hard to keep the lines drawn between the two roles. It does seem to me that you are carrying over an "aura" from being involved in the LTS program to your public-session activities. This is especially true when children are involved, as they very likely do see you as a coach, however many times you may tell them you're not.

So here's my advice, though I know you're not going to like it:
- choose between being a LTS volunteer and being a friendly helper at public skates . They really don't mix well, and only you can decide which is more important to you.
- if you do choose being a friendly helper at public skates, only help/talk to/interact with adult skaters. Any interaction with children is open to misinterpretation.

It depends on the particular coach, but in the LTS classes the coach and I will typically split up the students by level and then effectively be running our own classes. We'll switch off (i.e. sometimes the coach takes the higher-level students and I the lower-level ones, sometimes the coach takes the lower-level students and I the higher-level ones), and occasionally we'll run the class together. So yes, the coach is still around in case I'm unable to explain a skill to the students or unable to fix something with a student, and because we switch off they get an opportunity to make sure all the students are progressing smoothly. The evening coach has actually said that she's considering leaving early and just letting me do the later class by myself (she has to be back at the rink at 6:30 am for the morning freestyles!) though I've said I feel better with an actual coach around, even though I haven't asked her to "step in" and help me out for months.

But yes, I think the issue is the "aura" from being involved with the LTS program, that's why I was asking about if these issues would still exist if I weren't volunteering but was just a student, or if I were a coach. It seems like being in this middle gray area leads to its own challenges when interacting with others outside of the LTS program.

So here's my advice, though I know you're not going to like it:
- choose between being a LTS volunteer and being a friendly helper at public skates . They really don't mix well, and only you can decide which is more important to you.
- if you do choose being a friendly helper at public skates, only help/talk to/interact with adult skaters. Any interaction with children is open to misinterpretation.

At the risk of getting into semantics, I think it's more of how to be a friendly helper, i.e. what kind of advice is appropriate depending on the skater that's asking for it at public sessions so that they get the help they need, without steering them off-course and without making them feel like the rink is unfriendly. That's why I'm asking about the reasons behind it, to be able to figure out in a given situation what is okay to say, i.e. to have the heuristics available to decide what to say in a given situation. The alternatives would be to simply not talk to others at public sessions, i.e. give everyone a cold shoulder, or to have a complete and exhaustive "laundry list" of the okay things to say in each possible situation, when every situation is different.

I followed up with the director to get more clarification on this, since over the past week I had a skater come up to me and ask to see if their jumps were under-rotated, another asked if they were on the right edge for their lutz, and another who just got new skates, and asked the director to what level I can discuss with them about these things. Basically the consensus was if it's a major "obvious" characteristic or outcome of the skill (i.e. under-rotation or correct edge), telling them if they did it okay or not is fine. However, where it starts veering into coaching is discussion about how to correct those issues, at which point it's better to refer them to their coach. So if they say "hey can you see if my jump is under-rotated or not" it's fine to tell them if it is or not. But if they start asking "aww man am I opening up too early" or bending at the waist in the air or rotating instead of jumping or the free leg or arm swing for the axel, etc., that's the point where I should just say "well, bring it up with your coach, they'll be much better at telling you what's wrong" since those imply a corrective action. And so things like telling them hey you just got new skates, you should take it easy for a few weeks if your feet hurt, you'll have to relearn how to stop, etc., is perfectly fine -- it's just general advice about skating and not geared toward any particular skill or the intricacies of any particular skill.

I do typically talk more to adult skaters. With "public" skaters, it's usually the college-age and up that approach me, I've only had a few "public" kids approach me for help. With skaters in the LTS program, since I help out with the Adult classes, it's the adults who recognize me at public sessions. The kids from the LTS program who talk to me are mostly those who knew me from when I was talking the same classes as them in the LTS Free Skate classes; they've since moved on to higher levels while I've been doing private lessons now (not taking LTS group lessons any longer), focusing on MIF instead of jumps/spins. The newer kids from since that time don't really know me since I work almost exclusively with the LTS Adult classes, so I don't know if they even know I'm one of the LTS instructors, they probably just see me as one of the random adults running around during LTS. Or at least I haven't had any of the newer kids come to me for help thus far.

It comes down to “stepping on the toepicks” of the longtime, dedicated, full-fledged coaches. Since I'd like to evolve into one I stay very conscious to NOT do that.

Yeah I think it's about figuring what is the proper role within the rink as one of the LTS volunteer instructors but not a formal coach. Most of the LTS instructors are formal coaches (i.e. PSA member, CER C or higher), and most of the assistants are typically figure skating kids helping out with Snowplow Sam or whatnot. AFAIK there are no other adult non-coach LTS instructors except for me. So there's no one else really to use as a model for what is appropriate.

I've found this discussion interesting because Guest, although you are quite a dedicated volunteer, it doesn't sound a though were made familiar with what many would see is basic ground rules of clubs and coaching. You sound surprized by the reaction you've received. And it sounds as though you feel let down to be put in an uncomfortable situation when you feel you were genuinely trying to help. It's unfortunate that you were filled in after you'd unintentionally made some waves.

Well certainly they gave some instruction to me when I started volunteering, and I read through the LTS instructor's manual. But they didn't say anything about what to do during public sessions (as opposed to what to do during LTS). I've asked the director and she said no, there have been no concerns about my instructing during LTS (i.e. quality of instruction, being attentive to different skaters, etc.), it's been about my behavior during public sessions.

Your skill with video might be helpful to your club in ways that you haven't explored yet. For example, does your club need someone to video skaters during simulations prior to competitions? This could be a way to offer your skill with parental approval and the support of coaches.

You may want to look at the blog Skaters Dad. I've found helpful as I sort out what is okay and not in the skating world. And he is very much into photography, and may have suggestions that may help you.

The club does already have a photographer for competitions and such. Actually what I was the most surprised about was that there's no resource for video-recording during tests. This is probably because I spent some time looking at people doing those tests on Youtube to get an idea of where I should be, and didn't know that they were basically just arranging it on their own -- I thought videos were part of the testing fee. I would've preferred to have one for me so that I could see how I did on tests (as opposed to how I was doing when practicing, which I already have plenty of videos of). This especially because on the last test, I did a fairly major error on the last move (skidded during the five-step mohawk sequence), and though I still passed, I would've liked to have seen what happened exactly. But understandably quite a few people might get more nervous on a test knowing that they're being video recorded. For me I see video as a great learning and analysis tool (if you can't tell from my past posts), and I do a lot more video analysis of my own skating than I've posted about publicly, but not everyone will feel that way.

Guest - From what you have said, I think your heart is in the right place but I stop there.

What you are doing poses a huge liability to the rink. You did not like the TA example so let us move to a different example that also has liability issues - law firms. Law firms carry malpractice insurance and if one of their lawyers gives bad advice (or even fails to mention a relevant issue), the firm can be found guilty of malpractice. That insurance is really intended to cover the lawyers but some firms also staff non-attorney specialists. Non-attorney specialists need to clearly identify themselves as a non-attorneys or there becomes an issue with the firm's malpractice insurance. I think the issue here is people view you as a coach (attorney) when you are not one. You think this is pretty cool so you do not correct them which in turn, poses liability issues to the rink. The rink has now brought this to your attention and they want it stopped. If you chose not to follow rink's instructions, my guess is they will have no choice but to terminate you.

Actually I raised the TA example because it's the most relatable one for me as an instructor and TA at a university. However, there is a similar example from the engineering field; that of being a licensed Professional Engineer (PE). You need to get an actual PE to sign off on engineering plans for industrial systems like sewer disposal systems and such -- basically, technical drawings, etc. This is because of the liability involved and public safety -- the PE basically certifies that the plans are fine and that there won't be safety issues with it. Doing the plans without PE's (or, at least, without having a PE sign off on the final plans) is known as practicing engineering without a license and is a crime. So I as an academic at a university am free to give out whatever advice on engineering subjects I want since there's no liability issues, but if any of those engineering students go out into the "real world" they need to either get a PE license themselves or get a PE to sign off on their work when they work on an actual engineering project. It seems like it's a similar situation here: because of the liability (and skater safety) issues involved, you need a licensed coach to give out instruction, and thus volunteers shouldn't offer coaching advice in public sessions (during LTS there is a licensed coach to oversee them). Then it's just a matter of what type of advice is considered coaching versus generic skating advice/conversation which I talked about above.

And again, the kid students know I'm not a coach, I was a fellow student in the classes with them and they've since surpassed me, and they'll also video-record and discuss the skills among themselves. However, they know that I'm detail-oriented and understand what to look for (i.e. under-rotations for example), and that I'm not going to be "generous" in that, if they did under-rotate I'm going to say so, I'm not going to say "oh it was fine" if they did. But as mentioned above, there's a certain "aura" in that I'm an adult involved with the LTS program (some of those students are themselves volunteer instructors as well), which may lead to a different perception of me despite them knowing I'm not a coach and despite me saying so.

Filming other student - I find that creepy.

It's not as if I'm going out during public sessions looking to see if I can video record random kids. The change in behavior needed is just that if students ask me to look at a particular skill or if I want them to see what they're doing, I'll just tell them to get their own phone rather than use my camera. It's more convenient to use my camera since I have it on me or near me when I skate (I am *not* going to leave a $200 camera unattended at the rink when I bring it), but it's not a big deal to have them get their phone from their Zuca in the lobby. The director also suggested that I can show them the tracing they made on the ice, though that's not always practical in a public session when the ice is already scratched up.

(Having said that, there have been a few times where random "public" people see the LTS skaters doing axels and stuff at the public sessions and then start video-recording them -- are they not supposed to do that? Should I be raising the issue with the rink employees when I see that happen?)

Adults (over 18 but not National competitors): They look around and ask fellow skaters about the various coaches at the rink, then decide which coach they want to approach and hope their first choice has an opening. Or they talk directly with their primary coach for recommendations on supplementary coaching for specialization or choreography.

I find this issue interesting because it seems like it's perfectly fine for students to give recommendations about private coaches to other students when they're asked. It's also fine for parents as well. It's also fine for coaches (or the director) to give recommendations. But it's a no-no for a volunteer LTS instructor, who is not a formal coach, but is still a student (taking private lessons with a coach, albeit roughly once a month), to do so when asked questions like "which coaches are more technical" etc. That's why it's interesting to me to look at what makes the situation different for a volunteer LTS instructor in my case compared with the others.

It seems like the distinction is that for students and parents, well, they're "customers" so to speak, they can say whatever they want about the product. Realistically the program has no "sway" over them on what they can discuss among themselves. For coaches, especially the case of a primary coach being asked about supplementary coaches, they know which other coaches they work well with and will be complementary to their own teaching for the student. (I'm not sure about how often a coach is randomly asked about taking some other coach as a primary coach, presumably they're usually asked about themselves being a primary coach and the student/parent can evaluate their response for themselves.) But because I'm in the middle ground where I'm involved with the program and thus representing it, but not an actual coach, I shouldn't be involved in the student-coach pairing process since it will bias students/parents toward some coaches and thus indirectly away from others, which will hurt the others. Is that about right? (I don't know if it's relevant, but I should add that when this has happened, the askers already knew that I was a private student taking lessons with one of the coaches, i.e. not just as a random LTS instructor. So they may consider this more as "students asking students", but yet I'm already involved in the LTS program.)
 
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loopy

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 13, 2012
I have assumed at every LTS that my child took - we are talking 3 rinks and six years - that it was a coach teaching the classes and I never specifically asked because they advertise "all of our group classes are taught by highly qualified staff instructors", and they wear an official jacket and nametag but now, if I had a child in LTS, I would ask "what are your certifications to coach my child" and be very upset if I was paying for a HQ staff member and was getting a volunteer who was not a coach. That is my child and her health, welfare and safety on the line. I am really surprised no one has complained sooner. And funny, with the very first post I thought, Hey, he is with a coach, kind of acting like an enforcer of what the coach wants, but the more you post, you are acting as a coach no matter how many times you say "I'm not a coach" and maybe "the owner is my friend" makes it harder for any complaints to be heard by staff or from the director. I just checked the coaches on our list who teach LTS and they all claim to coaches with different certificates and PSA ratings.

I went from being okay to being very concerned and uncomfortable.
 
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Joined
Mar 25, 2014
You asked for answers on whether your behavior was wrong, you were given answers, mutiple times, every single one going in the same direction (ie: yes, your behaviour was wrong), but somehow it seems that rather than actually hearing what people are saying, you prefer to justify yourself(again), on why *you* don't think it's wrong.

Nowhere in this thread have I said "I'm right to do this because..." or "It's wrong for the rink to be like this because...". Instead I'm asking about the rink culture in interacting with others as a volunteer, to understand the reasons behind these rules and where the boundaries are so I'd know how to act in the future, and in some cases correcting some details about my particular situation. The only exceptions have been karne who seems intent on turning this into a personal attack thread, and now your post on this. Unless you believe asking "why" or "what about this scenario" is inherently implying "I think you're wrong", which I emphatically disagree with, I don't see why you'd think that discussing this issue means I'm saying I'm right.
 
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