Thursday, September 18, 2008

Two figure skating parenting articles: which kind of figure skating parent are you and how much does elite training cost?

Susan at Lifeskate posted a great article "What Kind of Skating Parent Are You?" by coach Bob Mock.

Mock separates figure skating parents into three categories.

I'll paraphrase:

1. The drive-by parent. This person drops her kid at the rink, goes to get her nails done, and picks the kid back up with the car engine running.

2. The nut. Mock writes that these folks try to take over the decisions from the coach, and I think he's right. I really believe that these parents have spent so much money on their kids' skating that it warps their brains. I'm too new to figure skating to call anything an investment, but I've heard parents use that word.

3. The normal parent. Mom or Dad drives the skater, watches encouragingly from the stands, smiles and nods when the coach gives instructions, and writes checks. The normal parent trusts the coach to know skating best and provide the best advice; the coach trusts the parent to bring the skater to practice, be encouraging, and not write checks that bounce.

I would add the malicious gossip, the ready volunteer, the scheduled mom (she takes a kid to the rink, then to soccer, then to piano), and others. However, from a coach's standpoint, I think that's about right.

How much does it cost? Susan at Lifeskate also posted a link to an article about how much it costs to support a figure skater's training in the St. Joseph News-Press. This gal in Missouri is raising a champion at home and she predicts next year's figure skating bills will amount to $80,000 - $100,000.

Yeah. That's a ton of money and, at that level, it's obvious why parents call that kind of spending an investment.

Here's the question: at that elite level, how does a #3 normal parent not become a #2 nut? I'm thinking medication.


Susan At Lifeskate said...

Yes, it's completely scary how a young skater remains "normal" knowing the "investment" in their skating "career." Now that I'm learning more about the commitment involved, I'm much more appreciative of the parents who insist that there's always a Plan B. I saw an interview with a pretty good skater who's 13 who said something like, "Yeah, I hope to make it to the Olympics, but I know only 3 skaters can go, so I hope I'm one of them, but it's ok if I'm not."

Anonymous said...

I feel the best way to keep my daughter and myself from going nuts is to give her a well rounded life. Skating is not my daughters whole life. She has been involved in other sports as well as artistic activities like theater, art classes, music, and dance. She has been involved in girl scouts and at our church. When you invest you entire life at the ice rink it can take over your mind and your skaters. We all know our children love this sport or they would not dedicate so much time to one activity. But it is our responsibility as parents to let our child see that there is more to life than just skating. A major arguement many parent have with their skates and sometimes even coaches is home schooling and going to regular school. I have even contemplated and researched homeschooling for my daughter. We decided that regular school was best for her because she enjoys the socialization and I feel she will get a better education. This decision has also helped to keep myself and my daughter grounded in reality. Not everyone will become the next Olympic gold medalist in figure skating but that does not mean they can not participate in a sport they love and find it a very rewarding experience. I think my least favorite question people ask me when they find out that my daughter is a figure skater is,"Is she planning to go to the Olympic someday?" I try to be polite and say if she wants to go and it is God's will then than we will all be greatful. I'm just happy she has an activity that makes her proud of herself and is good exercise and is something we can both enjoy together.

Ice Mom said...

Yep, Anony. I feel the same way. Isn't it funny how folks ask about the Olympics when you mention that your child is a figure skater?

If my child played basketball, few people would question sending her off to camp or practicing in the off-season. No one would mention the Olympics.

Playing basketball or figure skating has much the same rewards and challenges to the athlete.

I can tell you: Ice Girl's not going to the Oympics. If she does, it'll be as a spectator! :)

However, her participation in figure skating and competitions benefits her just like basketball, soccer, and volleyball benefits other kids: it teaches them discipline, fitness, poise, and all about winning and losing.

Angie said...

That was an interesting article. I'm a type 3 parent. I've actually seen quite a few type 3's at my daughter's rink. I've seen type 1's too. I have yet to run into type 3's at our rink but I have seen them at competitions! They SCARE me. :-) I don't ever want to be a type 2 parent!

Anonymous said...

I realized this is the first year of no Christmas tree, no decorations (heck not even out of the box yet), no plan and it's already the second week of December. It's because from Friday to Sunday we live at the ice arena! When do skating moms get things done on the "weekend"? What do you tell the rest of the family?

I love this blog! Just discovered it...I am an adult skater (new) who didn't want to stand on the sidelines and watch...but no way would I be there so much if it weren't for my daughter.

Ice Mom said...

I'm not sure, Anony, where the time comes from. I do know I have to plan, plan, plan to have leftovers and easy meals for skating days (6/7 days each week) and that Ice Girl and Ice Friend set up the tree last night. Now, I just have to encourage them to move the empty boxes into the basement.

If you have any idea where the time comes from, let me know!

bethalice said...

I am a little late reading this (story of my life). We skate at the rink mentioned in the article. I have never met the skater mentioned, but it just so happened that another mom mentioned him in a conversation today, telling me how good he is. We have not met him, I assume because of the vast difference in skating levels between him & my daughter (taking your advice and taking advantage of the Learn to Skate program.)

My daughter is almost 12, has been skating for 13 months, but more seriously since she got her first (non-rental) skates a few months ago. She is about to test out of Basic Skills level 6. I would classify myself as a type 3 parent, and have not seen any type 2 parents (though that may change at her first competition - by the way, thanks for the warning. LOL!) We do homeschool, but not because of skating (homeschooling long before skating). Homeschooling does help. There is a special weekday morning session for homeschoolers, with Learn to Skate lessons. The open skate is not crowded, and the class for the lessons is very small. It is very nice. That is not the only time she skates. Sometimes I feel like I live there! So, I taught myself to knit and only do it while at the rink; it sure does help to pass the time, and the resulting scarves are needed for the rink. My daughter has no desire to go to the Olympics, but just wants to be able to teach someday. Skating helped her tremendously after her father moved away. She has always been shy, but that almost put her into a diagnosis of social anxiety.

I am considering ballet lessons for her over the summer to help make her skating “pretty”. Do you do this (or know of others who did)? Did it help?

Ice Mom said...

Yep. Ice Girl is in a ballet-for-figure-skaters class. It's helped with her leaps and her arms. I'd recommend it.

Anonymous said...

Write these words on a piece of paper and keep them near your nightstand. Read them before you go to bed and then again when you wake in the morning:

"Out of all the thousands of elite skaters in the the United States, only 3 go to the Olympics in any year."

There haves to be other goals - in case of injury, in case of a two-foot growth spurt, in case she changes her mind - and these goals and objectives need to be important.

My daughter is learning discipline. She is learning hard work matters to reach a goal. She wants to test high so that she can coach someday, maybe just for extra money, maybe full time. She is getting off her butt and exercising.

Right now, except for synchro, I don't think that there are even any college scholarships for individual figure skaters. I could be wrong.

If you want to invest your money and get a payback, I think that gold bars are the only safe bet right now. You can only skate for skating's sake. All else is illusion.

katiedear said...

from juvenile and up we spent $30K per year

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ice Mom said...

Note from Ice Mom:
I removed a comment from Anony that I believe may contain defamatory comments about someone. According to libel law, I am responsible, as the publisher of this blog, for any libel or slander that appears on it.

Anony, your opinion about the person might have been completely truthful; however, I have no way of verifying that. Truth is the only defense to libel.

Since I'm supporting a skater and not interested in any defamation law suits, I took down your post.

Please know that I did this with a heavy heart because I'm a big supporter of freedom of expression. I'm also a big supporter of Ice Girl's ice time and coaching, not lawyers and their speed boats.

When I was a scholastic journalism adviser, advisers asked one another: is this the mountain I want to die on? That's the threshold I used when I deleted your comment.

Feel free to e-mail me or comment about my decision.