Wednesday, March 11, 2015

When Choosing a Coach...

Here's a hot button question. (And I know I'm inviting debate.) When you as a skater are choosing a coach, which do you value more: Education? Or Experience?

Do you want a coach who has themselves come up through the ranks, done a lot of competing and testing as skaters and has a good many years of experience as a coach?

Or do you want a coach who didn't do much skating in their youth but comes with a High PSA Rating and has done all the hardcore testing and study that comes with that rating?

Now, I'm not saying one is better than the other, and I'm not going to say my preference. (Although that should be obvious.) I think it's a personal decision to the skater, their goals and their working style. And as long as you get the results you're looking for, it doesn't matter. But I'm curious as to how others feel about it, after having a bit of an email debate about it during the week.

So, there's a poll in the sidebar. All eighty some of you who visit this page daily, go vote. And if you want to comment, great. But keep it civil. I know that coaching discussions can get a little heated, and that's just because we're all passionate people. So please be COMpassionate, or I'll shut it down. (It's my blog.)


  1. Teaching skill. The passing of knowledge and skill is a gift unto itself. It's one thing to know how and be able to do something well, and quite another thing to have the ability to pass that skill and knowledge on to someone else. While it helps to have the talent to do something, if you don't have the gift of teaching you cannot be a good coach, mentor, or whatever you want to call it.

  2. I tend to not be that excited by PSA ratings, even though I appreciate PSA's efforts to professionalize (so to speak) its members.

    As the above poster said, I think the options in your poll miss the point a bit. Above all I need a coach I can relate to and with whom I can develop a good rapport. I've observed some coaches that I think "definitely not my style" -- but their skaters seem reasonably happy and seem to make progress, so who am I to judge?

    I think many adult skaters (not me, though) would favor PSA ratings over personal experience because they feel that the ratings would make the person a better teacher, and that the coach's personal experience as a skater (presuming he/she was a child skater) is not as relevant since the adult skater's experience would be quite different.

  3. The ability to teach in a way that the skater understands is indeed a valid point, as all the Skating Mysticism in the world won't matter if the would-be coach can't communicate effectively. And it's a critical part of the equation. But right now I just want to focus on the Tangibles, and we can save the Intangibles for a later discussion.

  4. Neither of these is important to me.

    Things that I am looking for when choosing a coach (for my children) are: (1) whether their other skaters progress well given their amount skating/effort, so basically the coach's teaching skills in general, (2) whether my children "click" with this coach and would enjoy being coached by him/her, (3) whether the coach is a good role model for my children. All three of these are very important.

    Did this coach skate as a child? This may somewhat help with (1) and (2), although this is neither necessary nor sufficient to satisfy those.
    Does the coach have PSA rankings? Frankly, I don't care.