Please note: all e-mails below have been edited for length and usage.
A couple of weeks ago I received this question from reader L.L. in my InBox that said three things:
- L.L. likes her daughter’s figure skating coach.
- Competition problem #1: Skater and coach never practiced the compulsory at both ends of the rink. Skater was distressed at a competition when she had to skate at the other end of the rink.
- Competition problem #2: Weird problem where Skater was signed up for an interpretive figure skating event and thought it would be her normal program.
I conducted a poll of my informal advisory board and it came out 6 to 1 in favor of keeping the coach on.
Here’s what some of us said:
- Yes, it's the coach's responsibility to know the rules – she should have known them.
- Is this a new coach? It sounds like she must be. Learning is hard, and that kind of mistake is likely only made once.
- I, personally, would give the coach one more chance assuming all else is good in the skater-coach relationship. If not, I would say that's a good reason to leave.
C.L: I think that the parent should have a heart-to-heart with the coach if she likes her. These seem like honest mistakes that maybe a newer coach would not be aware of. For the next competition, the parent and coach should review the rules together and schedule practice ice on the rink beforehand.
Ice Friend: I would say fire her, unless the kid wants to keep the coach. I know if it were me, I would not be happy, because it would make me feel like I’m not skating to my fullest. The coach should know about the competition’s rules, because they’re written in the competitions packets that they sign. It has all of the information, so maybe the coach read it, but she didn’t pay very much attention to the details.
Ice Mom: For me, the coaching relationship is more complicated than competition results. I look for a coach who loves to be on the ice, has good skating skills, is a good teacher, is nice to me and my kid, and is easy to communicate with. I want Ice Girl to do well at competitions and I sign her up for a lot of them. But at this level, I think that the competition thing is really about getting kids to understand what a competition is and how to mentally prepare for them. If your daughter freaked out or was thrown for a loop, that really didn't happen. It's obvious your coach let you down in the competition area, but you wrote that you really like her. Maybe the other criteria outweigh the competition fiascos. Maybe you're willing to take another chance with her because you believe she's a good coach and a good fit for your daughter and your family.
Ice Girl: Maybe the coach has really good skills and works well with the skater. I would sit down and talk with the coach, but I wouldn’t let her go just over this.
Most of us are willing to give this coach another chance, and that’s just what L.L. did.
Update: From Anonymous in the comments: I'm all for giving people a second chance, as long as you're confident that you're not being taken advantage of. If you think it was the kind of mistake you only make once, than give her another try. If, however, there are repeated missed details, then you should consider whether she is really serious about being a good coach. You need to be an advocate for your kids as well as a partner with the coach. Skating is too expensive not to be concerned about the details.
From reader Season: The main point of my post is that open communication with the coach is very important and if your coach is young and new to the profession she may need some time to get used to being a coach.
From reader Rosalie: One or two mistakes is fine, as long as they don't happen again, but you are paying your coach to help you/your skater progress, not to be your buddy.
What do you think? What would you recommend a parent do in this situation?