Hints for Choosing a Coach
First and foremost: do some homework!
1. Look at their NCCP level. NCCP is the National Coaching Certification Program. There are 5 levels with Level 1 being the minimum for Recreational programs, and Level 5 being Olympic Level (very rare). The majority of coaches are certified at levels 2 and 3.
2. Look at their years of teaching experience.
3. Look at their skating background. This indicates what tests they have passed as skaters. But....the highest level of tests passed does not necessarily mean they are the best teachers.
4. Look at the fees charged. A basic lesson is 15 minutes long. Lesson fees are often set by the coachs experience and NCCP level. The coach sets his/ her own fees. They are not set by the skating club. The most or least expensive coach is not necessarily the best. Ask questions.
5. Watch the coaches in action during a skating session, or during a test day or competition. What is their personality? Are they friendly and approachable? Do they get along well with their peers? How do they interact with their students, parents, other coaches, other skaters, the Club executive, etc.
6. Talk to the coach. Ask what their teaching philosophy is. How do they motivate their students? Do they set reasonable goals? Ask how far their skaters have advanced in competitions and tests. How many skaters have they taught that excelled in the sport?
7. Try a few lessons in each discipline with different coaches before you decide which coach is best for your skater. ...It would be wise to let the coaches you are considering know that you are trying them out for a short period of time. This will avoid any misunderstanding between coaches and between the coach and parent.
8. Ask for the coachs billing structure.
- How often do they issue a bill?
- Are there any hidden expenses or charges?
- How do they bill for competitions...accommodations, meals, mileage?
- How do they bill for test days.....local vs out of town?
- How do they bill for music...flat rate vs hourly rate?
9. Do they offer semi-private (2 to 3 skaters) or group lessons?
10. The number of lessons per discipline per week....It depends on your skaters ability, and on what you can afford. Your skater needs time to practise what has been taught.
11. Can my skater have more than one coach at a time? Absolutely! In many clubs some coaches specialize in one aspect eg. dance or artistic. You can have one coach for dance, another for freeskate and skills, and another for artistic. Just make sure all coaches are aware of who is teaching what to whom.
Many thanks to Janet Smallman for permission to reprint this article.