Choosing a Coach

The coaching of figure skating in Canada and most other countries is done on a professional basis. Individuals make their coaching services available for a fee. Skate Canada Professional Coaches normally coach as their vocation, either on a full or part-time basis.

Like most other clubs in Canada, Arctic Edge CanSkate through Early Academy programs are offered solely in group lesson format. As your child continues into STARSkate, the club offers groups lessons and there is unstructured practice time each day. This is the time that most skaters begin to have private lessons in addition to the group lessons. At this point you may need to make a decision about which coach you want to hire from among the available coaches in the club. The coach should be someone the skater feels comfortable with, and one you both respect as an individuals as well as a teacher. You want a coach who treats your child with respect and who is interested in your child’s development as a person as well as a skater.

Be sure to inquire about the certification level the coach has attained. The coach’s Skate Canada Professional coaching Membership card will display their coaching certification level and the club should have this information on file. It is a good idea to talk directly with the coach to determine their coaching and skating background and experience and what training they have done to increase their coaching knowledge and stay current with trends and developments in the sport. A more knowledgeable and educated professional coach will help ensure you are getting the best value for the investment you are making in your child.

Regular meetings and planning sessions between the coach and parents are important. Communication is the key to any good relationship and the coach and skater/parent relationship is no different. There are least two distinct times when coaches and skaters/parents should discuss their needs and expectations surrounding their coach/skater/parent relationship: the initial meeting when the skater/parent is looking for a coach; and a yearly meeting at the beginning of every skating season. At the initial meeting, information such as the coaching philosophy, roles and responsibilities of each individual, fees, skating budget, skating equipment, your child’s safety on and off the ice, base and support coaches, amount of time committed to skating, off-ice training, lesson scheduling, behaviour and conduct of the skater should be discussed. The yearly meeting should give and assessment of the previous year; evaluate and reset short and long term goals, discuss new programs, off-ice training plan, test and competition schedule, off-season school plan, extra activities, school performance and commitments, equipment, medical exam and fitness testing. At this time the coach should also provide you with a current copy of the Coaches Code of Ethics and review the code directly with you. Your coach should also set dates for progress report meeting throughout the year.

It is not unusual for a skater to change coaches during his/her career. Skaters often seek specialized attention from different coaches at different times to help them meet their skating goals. When and if, the decision to change coaches has been made, certain common sense and ethical procedures should be followed:

  • Notify your current coach of your decision privately;
  • Pay any outstanding account balances;
  • Seek a new coach, although informal and discreet inquiries in this area may start earlier;
  •  Be discreet and courteous throughout.

When looking for a coach, get information directly from the potential coaches or your club about the coach’s coaching qualification, their coaching experience, formal education, test passed as a skater, competitive experience etc. Talk to other parents and skater and watch how the potential coach interacts while they are teaching other skaters. After all, you may end up paying this coach a fair amount of money over several years so take the time to find the right coach for your child.

Adapted from Figure Skating: What Every Parent Needs To Know complements of Skate Canada