Choosing the Best Coach for You or Your Child
The following information has been adapted for the Club’s members and prospective members from previously published essays by U.S. Figure Skating and the Professional Skaters Association (PSA).
There are many reasons to consider hiring a private coach: To excel at a faster pace than in group lessons, to supplement your group lessons with an occasional private one for more focused attention, to obtain assistance developing a difficult skill, to increase your commitment to skating, or to pursue a competitive path. Whatever the reason, this document provides information for your consideration in choosing the best coach for you or your child from the Club’s professional staff.
The Skating Club of Boston® strives to offer members a variety of coaching professionals, each of which may offer a different skill, area of expertise or focus. As a result, finding the best coach for your needs will be a highly individual decision. As a starting point for your evaluation, we recommend you review the below list of staff coaches, and read the personal information provided for each coach. (Please note that this information has been provided by the coach and not the Club, and is intended to be a starting point for learning more about each coach. The Club does not employ any private lesson coaches on behalf of its members, nor does it make professional recommendations as to which coach may be best for any member. It is up to each member to choose their own coach, as well as make arrangements for their services.)
After reviewing the Club coaching staff’s profiles you may also want to ask other members who they employ as a coach, if they are satisfied with their services, and if not, why. Keep in mind however, that not every coach is the right fit for every student: What works for one family may not be the best fit for you – either long-term, or for your skater’s immediate development. (Importantly too, you may choose a professional who is not on the Club staff. In that case, however, you will not be able to take lessons with that coach on Club member sessions. These sessions are clearly marked on the ice schedule, but should you have any questions about them, please check with the Club office.)
After your initial review and research, we suggest selecting two or three potential coaches from the Club’s list of professional staff to check their availability for new students, and if available, to set up an in-person meeting. (Contact information is provided for each coach.) An in-person meeting will give you a chance to ask important questions, and to find out how you and your child interact on a personal level with each prospective coach.
Some things to consider when selecting the right coach are personality, learning and teaching styles, experience and technical know-how.
Some of the questions the Club recommends asking prospective coaches include:
- What is your coaching philosophy?
- What do you believe are the responsibilities of a good skating coach?
- How long have you been coaching?
- What are your greatest coaching accomplishments?
- What is your skating background?
- Do you specialize in coaching certain disciplines (e.g. singles, pairs, ice dancing, synchronized skating)?
- What levels have you passed?
- Did you skate competitively?
- Are you rated or ranked by the Professional Skaters Association (PSA)? If not, why?
- How do you stay current with the sport and the profession of coaching?
- How often do you meet with the parents of your students?
- How do you manage conflict with your students and/or your parents?
- Do you offer individual goal setting and annual development plans for your students?
- How much input may I have in how you coach my child?
- Do you recommend multiple [specialty] coaches for your students? If so, why?
- How many lessons per week do you recommend for my child, and why?
- What are your rates for lessons, competitions, cutting program music, etc.?
- How often do you bill for charges? When do you expect to be paid?
- What is your policy if we have to cancel a planned lesson?
- Are there any other policies that we should be aware of in advance?
Take Your Time
If selecting a coach for your child, keep in mind that even if your child only skates a few days a week, your skater’s coach will have a significant influence on his or her life. Therefore, it is important that you and your child be comfortable with the person you choose. Take as much time and talk to as many people as necessary until you are satisfied that you are making a good choice. If a coach is too busy or not interested in answering all of your questions now, they will be even less likely to have more time for you once hired.
As a follow up, after you have selected a coach and they have begun working with your family, you should observe some of their lessons with your child. It is important to make sure that the coach/skater relationship you have invested in is what you want it to be. If after observing a few sessions you have questions or concerns, set up a meeting with the coach. Never interrupt the lesson. A respectful and open dialogue will likely prevent problems down the road. If you have a situation that you feel warrants third-party attention, take it privately to Club management and allow them to handle it appropriately. You can always start with the team in the Club office, and let them advise or direct you further.
Once you are working with a private coach, you may reach a point in which your coaching relationship may no longer be working out for whatever reason, and you may conclude that a change is necessary. Should this happen, please talk to your coach about your interest in making a change. They should understand your reasons and support you in your decision. You must of course make sure all your financial commitments have been met before making a change in coaches, or ask that the coach arrange a payment plan for you. If you believe the coach is unreasonable in their response or uncooperative with your decision, please advise Club management. Club coaches are independent contractors and not employees, but they are still expected to be reasonable professionals as a member of the Club’s staff. Please keep in mind too that there are always differences in understandings when there are differences in opinions and conclusions. Skating is a small community, and our Club is an even smaller community. We ask that you please address any issues directly with the parties involved, and avoid openly disparaging any of the Club’s professionals, whose business depends on their reputations.
The Club’s junior coaching program was established to augment the work of the Club’s professional coaches seeking additional support for their skaters. It can also be beneficial, fun and inspiring for a developing skater to work with an athlete currently competing at the national level. The program in turn also helps current national competitors mitigate some of their own training expenses. The program is a limited program, both in terms of the number of available junior coaches and the ice sessions on which these coaches are permitted to teach.
For more information on the Club’s junior coaching program, please refer to Coaches Rule CSR5 for eligibility and restrictions (pdf), or contact your Club coach [if you have already chosen a Club coach] or Club coach Amanda Farkas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Amanda manages the junior coaching program, and will be able to answer questions about the program and the currently available junior coaches in the program.
As a final note, when scheduling lessons with your coach, keep in mind that having a scheduled lesson does not guarantee, or give priority, for getting on a particular ice session. That is determined solely by established Club rules for contracting or walking on Club ice, including test level, seniority, and inclusion in the Club’s high performance program. If you have any questions about Club ice, please contact the Club office.