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.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

- stuck

On her most excellent skating blog, Xan recently offered some pointers for what to do when your skater appears to be reaching a plateau. Her post has a couple of intertwined ideas that I'd like to unravel to examine. The first concept is if and how a skater may be "fulfilling whatever potential people . . . see in her." A second concept is more Tony Robbins inspirational, platform changing. And perhaps a third concept is how a parent, coach, and skater each have different preconceptions of a life path for the skater.

Frankly this business of "potential" is frightening stuff. It plays directly on the pride of being a parent. It's the same marketing approach that Phoenix University employs to lure students -- Achieve your potential: spend money on our courses and we'll help you get there. It seems to be pandering to everybody's ego of how good they think they can become.

You know there's natural talent and there's hard work; put them together with good coaching and you'll get what you get. Along the way there is luck and misfortune and a constantly changing body.

Dreams of grandeur are motivational, but they also lead to great disappointment. Listen when somebody compliments your skater -- smile and say thank you -- but judge your kid objectively against other skaters her own age and avoid having your ego "played upon."

Having said all that though I've seen plenty of instances where a skater isn't going anywhere, then they take off the summer, and then they come back as completely different skaters. What happened? Did something "click?" Special off ice training? A new attitude? Who knows? It does seem to me that skaters pass through some magical discontinuous skill points, rather than just gradually getting continuously better.

Finally, "stuck" is a life lesson. It's one that parents already know about and skaters will learn. Everybody goes through it whether you're a chess master or a basketball jock or an aspiring guitarist. Indeed for a parent part of the value in skating is to teach their kids that yes, people are all different and each possess various limits. Most parents recognize that their kid won't be making a career out of skating.

Yet all parents also know that their child must recognize this for themselves.

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