Take Your Skating to the Next Level!
At some point in time a skater progresses from group classes to private lessons. Dan is available for private lessons and is accepting new students.
Contact Dan@DanHollander.com for availability.
Choosing an Instructor
How do you choose a good instructor? This is a very expensive sport, and you are turning over your child (or yourself) to someone for twenty minutes up to three hours a week. It is worth the time to do your homework. First, sit down and observe the coaches you are interested in hiring. How do they interact with their skaters? Do they seem to motivate their skaters? Are they positive or seem to motivate with an iron fist? Or do they seem capable of both depending on the personality of the skater??? (believe it or not some people need an iron fist and a very controlled atmosphere to thrive and obtain their goals) Do they only give verbal corrections or are they more hands on and demonstrate with gestures that even a parent in the audience can understand? Or both? Does your skater learn better verbally or visually?
Talk to some of the parents in the stands and see who they take from and their thoughts. Now for the next step. Make a list of the potential coaches. Approach them all individually and explain you are looking for a coach, and would like to take a trial lesson with a few coaches. Ask them if they have room for a lesson, if they are taking on new clients, and how much do they charge per hour? This way you can see how your skater relates to the coach without committing to them yet. (even if a coach says they have no room to take on any more clients, see if they will still give you a trail lesson, because if you like them the best, at least see if they will put you on a “waiting list.”)
You can have a head coach, a moves coach, a dance coach, etc., or any combination, including just one that does it all. Pick your head coach first, and from there see what coaches they are willing to work with. Coaches that teach in the same style tend to work together, which keeps your skater from being confused by learning two different techniques. If you like two coaches who do not work together, and one charges $100 per hour while the other is $40 per hour try to figure out why. Is the $100 per hour over charging, while the $40 per hour is a great coach but just doesn’t have the “name” or “experience” to warrant the $100 per hour? OR, does the $100 per hr coach deserve that rate because they are that good, and the $40 per hour coach is just learning how to coach? Don’t make the mistake of “saving money” for 5 years of questionable technique, and then have to change to the $100 per hour coach which you now have to pay even more in the long run because they have to unlearn a lot of bad habits. But you don’t want to over pay for a coach who is not a good fit for your skater either. A difficult decision to say the least!
What You Should Expect
You should request a price sheet outlining all the costs. How much do they charge for testing, competitions, and their hourly rate. What is their cancellation policy? (Most have a 24 hour advance cancellation notice, and will charge if you miss a lesson. However, what if the coach misses your scheduled lesson? What is the coach willing to do to make it up to you? If I ever miss a lesson without advance notice the skater’s next lesson is free. However if you receive X amount of lessons per week and the coach can fit your skater in another time so you end up with the same amount of lessons without buying extra ice, then usually a free lesson isn’t given…) You should have an initial meeting to sit down and discuss your goals. Are you planning on passing x amount of tests, or being able to skate well enough to place in the top 4 at this years “X” competition?
These meetings and discussions can be a bit tricky. Some questions to ask and thoughts:
- How many meetings a year are expected?
- Is there a charge for them (the coach’s hourly rate) or 2 free a year with an hourly charge for more? (pre season and post season)
- Phone calls and emails, if they become over abundant, can end up being charged for. Don’t forget the coach has other clients besides your skater and a home life, so boundaries need to be set. These need to be done by a case by case basis, but know this is something that can be an issue.
- Grabbing your coach for a discussion during an ice resurface might not be the best time. They may have to be at another rink to teach etc. Open communication is a must to keep “communication issues” at bay.
When to Change Coaches
How do you know when it is time to change? Has the communication seemed to have stopped? Are there goals that are just not being achieved? This is the hardest thing to figure out. Is your skater just not working hard enough? Are they just not capable of achieving a certain goal? (because of my genetics, no matter how many times you want to break my hip bones, I cannot turn out enough for a spread eagle) Look at this like a business. What is the goal, why aren’t they achieving it, and what can be changed (if anything) to achieve it? If there is an issue achieving a goal, the coach may bring this up with the parent in one of the meetings. Something that bothers me to no end is a skater who takes a test 4 to 5 times and fails each time. Were they not ready in the first place? If not, why was the money wasted? Or does the skater have a hard time performing to the “passing level” of practice they normally do, and needs to be over prepared? Everybody fails a test, but when it becomes more often than not, something needs to change, either a team player, the attitude and practice habits of the skater, etc. On the same line of discussion, try and see what the passing rate seems to be of all the coaches in the area. Does one coach seem to be a power house and is known for moving skaters successfully through their tests with a 90% pass rate? Another might be good with lower levels but seems to never get skaters past a certain level. Only by observing and asking can you figure this information out.
For whatever reason if you have decided to change coaches, there are a few things you need to know. All bills must be paid up to the old coach before you move onto the next. Ethically, the new coach should ask if there is any outstanding bills, call the old coach to confirm, and only teach your skater once all payments are received.
Know that we, as coaches, can’t answer some of these tough questions directly about a skater taking from someone else, because it comes close to soliciting.