Sunday, September 18, 2011

You're going the wrong way.

Stitch is a Lefty, which apparently he should know since his Coach told him once about a year ago and never mentioned again. She just knows and that's how she teaches him. But let's establish that Stitch often doesn't know what day it is, forgets his lunchbag at school just about three times a week (not to mention random fruit moldies left in it), loses jackets, mismatches shoes, and will get distracted from simple directives by shiny toys and kittens. He's a normal 8 year old boy with other things to think about, that's all.

But at flowpowermoves yesterday I watched as Stitch kept trying to go the wrong way for waltz jumps. He could just about do it, which was pretty deceptive. I know he can almost spin both ways. Stronger going left, of course, but he can make it to the right about three times. But no coach asked the question. Well, okay. But Stitch was getting really frustrated. During formal lessons, though, I watched as the Group Coach and Stitch visibly argued for about five minutes. I have to hand it to the kid for holding his ground that something was amiss.

I waited patiently, wondering how long it was going to take this guy to figure it out.

Finally, the Coach skated over and looked up at me in my perch. "Is he a lefty?"

"He's a lefty."

Finally, with all other class kids going right, Stitch was finally allowed his own jump pattern. And as the only kid going to opposite way, he did much better.

When class finally ended, Stitch ran off the rink with cold feet. "You did good," I said, taking off his skates.
"No. I couldn't get it right."
"That's because you're a lefty. Remember that. Tell Coaches who don't know."
"When the Coach left the ice, I was sure he was going to get an aspirin."
"I told him he looked like Severous Snape."
"You didn't."
"But he does! He told me to remember how mean Snape was! He's stricter than Coach Y!"

Well, while Stitch is just now getting into the Harry Potter series (we're picking up the first book today, and he loves the movie) if I remember right, Snape turns out to be one of the good guys. But I won't tell Stitch that just yet.

In the meantime, I'll be busting out my shrinky dinks and making Stitch a new pin for his jacket; "I go to the LEFT."


  1. I think that informing a strange group lesson coach that your child is a lefty is a rare case where parental interference is acceptable.

    You showed him the movie first?!

  2. When a class has way too many kids in it, a few of which don't really even belong at that level, there is only so much you can expect the coach to be able to deal with. Better to be proactive and tell the coach on day one that the skater is a lefty. Older kids can do this themselves but its the parent's responsability if they are too young to.

  3. and really he is one of the nicest and best coaches at the rink.

  4. I know, I do like him. He's a nice guy. But this is one of my complaints about the group classes; The coaches rarely bother to speak with parents. I've never spoken more than six words to a group class coach because they do a vanishing act after classes. As I say to Stitch's teachers, I'm on your side!

  5. Coaches get paid very little for group classes relative to what they get for privates. They often have to teach way to many kids, and a bunch of the kids skipped levels and therefore are not up to speed and hold the coach back from teaching the rest of the class. If there are 12 kids in the class, how much time do you want them to spend after (when they are not being paid at all!!) to talk to the mom of each skater??? I would run like hell after class too if I were them. But the parents know who the coaches are - you see them at the rink at other times - if there is a real reason to talk to them - like telling them your kid is a lefty - you can find them very easily. Coach Snape is actually one of the most accessibe and he amazingly remember the names of kids he had in class three or four sessions ago but has not seen since. He is really a great coach.

  6. Just have to say that I LOVE shrinky dinks and I also am easily distracted by shiny toys and kittens. Great idea for the pin.
    I fired a coach for never being available to talk. I understand the urge to run away when not getting paid but for some professions you have to accept that some amount of shmoozing (for lack of a better word) is required. How else are those group lessons going to grow your privates?

  7. anonymous, the FIRST thing any FS coach does in a class with unfamiliar skaters is to ask them if there are any lefty jumpers, and if the kid doesn't know, to have them all spin so you can find out. This is coaching 101, in fact it's kindergarten-level coaching knowledge. This is emphatically not in the category of "only so much the coach can deal with."

    The truly amusing thing about this was that Coach recently drilled me a new one because she had my kid spinning the wrong way for an entire class session, to understandably poor results, tried to bump the poor child back a level, and when I told her what was going on, then blamed THE KID for not knowing which way she spins.

    A coach that doesn't establish which way a skater spins is not an overwhelmed coach dealing with kids "who don't even belong at that level." It's a coach who is so self-absorbed or dismissive that they can't be bothered to figure out such a basic thing about skating.

  8. I think after class is the worst time for that. If little Muffy's mom is talking to coach, then little Buffy's mom (and everyone else's) will inevitably want their share of attention too.

    The coaches are always around the rink. If what a parent wants to talk about is important (my skater is a lefty vs why are you not spending more time helping Muffy in that class of 10 children) then it will still be relevant the next time you see the coach when all the other parent's aren't bearing down on him/her as well. I have never had a problem talking to any of the coaches in the lobby or in the parking lot when I had something important to talk to them about.

  9. Xan - I think that the fact that he figured it out by half way into the second class when the class is huge and neither the skater nor the parent gave him a heads up is pretty impressive. And Stitch was struggling with all of the moves so it was not obvious that the jumps were a particular problem.

  10. Well, you guys can argue amongst yourselves and feel free to blame me. I just solved the problem. (For Stitch and Xan's kid.)

  11. I skate lefty too. As an adult, I've never had a problem speaking up for myself in lessons with new coaches (one of whom I've skated on practice ice for years, and she subbed for my class and said "you jump my way?" Yep- that's why I always follow you into the corner to jump!) It must be difficult for kids to know to advocate for themselves, because they are all to often used to adults not listening to them.

    That said, it's a good idea to learn half jumps in both directions. They get used as footwork later on, so doing waltz jumps "the wrong way" (and half flip, half lutz) isn't a bad idea (unless coach says don't do it yet, then, don't do it yet. I also learned 2 foot spin, and 3 rev scratch spin in both directions, that had me set for synchro.)

  12. not sure coaches will notice pins on clothing unless the skater remembers to point it out....

  13. Thank you for an excellent "roll-eyes-what-the-??-ROTFLOL" moment re: Coach Snape, I hope the nickname stays. And he is a wonderful coach in my books.

    I look forward to see the pin, but don't you think an "I go to the left" ICE HALO is even more impressive? :D

  14. ITA with Xan on Professional Coaching 101. It is so basic and if the coach can't bother to remember someone you've had for multiple sessions in a row skates lefty, the same coach probably does not see the skater's deficiency in technique either. Really, is that girl in MY class?

  15. At the risk of defending Coach Snape again ( disclaimer I am clearly on team Slytherin) I don't think he had any prior knowledge to re a lefty skater. Must have used a potion to figure it out so fast!

  16. If you can find me a low freestyle class at Robert Crown with 10 kids in it, I'll buy you a beer. We're talking classes with 2 to 5 kids. Not exactly overwhelming.

  17. Sat FS3 and FS4 each have 10-12 kids in them this session - horrible. The others are really undersubscribed. But this is not the first time. If I remember, FS 1 in the spring also had maxed out and then some - the kids could hardly move.

  18. Want my beer - butterbeer I hope!

  19. To clarify my comment above re: knowing your lefty skaters, "multiple sessions" = 6 months to my knowledge but very likely even longer (skater only needed that dreaded axel). Yeah 1.5 week is great, even better if one asks upfront (and most coaches do that IIRC).

    PS: so funny that skatingforums happens to have a Harry Potter theme for the practice thread this week. I heart Snape :)

  20. I owe you a beer. But I also have to tell you that a coach should be able to handle a class with 10 kids, whichever way they jump, and however many levels they're actually at. A lot of rinks combine levels so that there are always 10 kids in a class. Beginner classes routinely have 20 or more. You want maxed out? Try 10 screaming 3 year olds. However, if it really seems to be a problem, I would try suggesting to the manager that she put a junior coach on this class with pro, to reduce the teacher-student ratio.

  21. I think Snape handles it very well - much better than the FS1 coach did back in the spring - I did not meant to imply that he did not. My point was that with that many kids, gotta cut him some slack if did not figure out he had a lefty until the second lesson. Could very well have asked at the beginning and not had anyone respond that they were a lefty - I think its fair to say that kids that age are not always paying attention to everything the coach says or asks.....
    Looking forward to my butterbeer