This blog is a collection of my thoughts and experiences from ten years as a skate dad. For those of you sitting with your jackets in the bleachers, first I salute you, but second I want to give you an honest sense of what you are in for and what to expect. Ice skating is both a trying and a glorious sport, but it doesn't happen without the special group of folks who cheer, support, and console the participants. This is dedicated to you.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

- choose

How does a skater go about choosing a coach? Seldom do I pen a blog post I know nothing about, yet this is definitely one of those times.

When my daughter started skating around age six, she attended group classes and then had a coach from one of her former class teachers (at least if I recall correctly, it was a long time ago). Then when she was around ten she let me know two amazing things: she was so serious about skating that 1. she wanted to home school, and 2. she was going to pick a new coach. How?

Well she had already talked to her mom who was exploring the home schooling, and she had chatted with several friends at the rink and doing some research to decide which coach to pick.

When your ten year old daughter lets you know she is making such major choices it can be a bit disconcerting. But I trusted her mom with her concern for my daughter's education, and even at ten my daughter knew about twenty times more about skating than me, so I figured she'd make better coaching choices.

We live in what I suppose Xan would call a smallish market; although LA has twelve million people, we could only really drive to around eight rinks. Our rinks are sparse, so a kid has a limited number of choices. Plus I sense that out here the rink a toddler first attends for group classes tends to become her Home rink (although this may just be a Southwest U.S. sort of thing).

So really my daughter was choosing between the three or four coaches at Pickwick who were taking on new charges.

When I checked with her my daughter said that she didn't remember a lot about the process; she wanted a coach that was not too mean (screeching at their students while they ran through a program), and one that was able to teach her students to learn jumps beyond the Axel.

I'm curious to hear how other parents and skaters go about this process. Overall I think our coach worked out well, yet I recognize since this decision happens at an early age and can have such lasting impact that it's a difficult decision to make well.


  1. Dear L.A. SkateDad, can I please ask you a question about coaches. My daughters have one main coach and will soon begin working with a supplemental coach. We are hoping that the two will communicate and coordinate their teaching. Is it customary in this situation to pay both coaches for their time spent communicating, or is communication expected?

  2. Hi Anon,

    I paid the ballet and stroking coaches separately, but never asked them for coordination. I suppose working with the main coach could however be much more critical for a jump-coach or a choreographer.

    Do you ever just treat both coaches out for lunch with your daughter (away from the rink, if their schedules permit)?

    The few acquaintances I have had with daughters at National level mentioned that supplemental coaches tended to be both close and somewhat "sponsored" by the primary coaches at their rink; it was nearly impossible to retain a jump coach if she wasn't already familiar with the training rink's staff. I /suspect/ therefore there's back-chatter amongst the coaches anyhow.

    Finally I'm afraid I can't speak much to "customary," as my experience is just limited to the couple rinks that we skated here in L.A.

    It *is* a great question though; maybe something to ask Xan at her site (XanBoni)?

    Thanks for your comment, and thanks for reading the blog!

    1. Thanks!

      We've never asked our coaches out for lunch or anything. Not at all because we don't want to, but because we think they are so busy that we don't assume they would like to take even more time and go out with us...

      In our case, the supplemental coach is at another rink, even in another city, than the main coach. So these two coaches almost never see each other and have never worked together. Since both the supplemental and the main coach are going to work on jumps, we feel it would be important for them to communicate.

      Thanks for the link, too!

      Same Anon

  3. .. also, here's an interesting article I just located that interviews a choreographer. He mentions the importance of communication as well as bringing up other interesting training points:

    1. Hmmm... link no longer works. Here's a different interesting inteview with Phillip though: