When I only had the experience of taking lessons with Coach A, I’d sometimes wonder if and how other people’s experiences were different. But while I could ask my skater friends about certain aspects of their skating, some issues are a bit touchy to discuss, like money, and so I didn’t really ask anybody about their coaching arrangements.
Now that I’ve taken from four coaches, I’ve been thinking of how their styles compare. I don’t mean (only) in terms of skating technique, but in that there are so many variables from person to person on how they conduct the business of coaching. For instance, how they manage cancellations, or payment, or communication.
So here’s what I’ve found from my experiences thus far, in randomized order:
- One coach teaches only at freestyle sessions at the Serious Rink.
- Two coaches teach me primarily at my preferred rink on public sessions, but we have frequently gone to the other rink for freestyles when scheduling requires it. Both these coaches teach more on freestyle, but have enough lower-level and adult students to be regulars at my usual rink.
- One coach teaches me at the Serious Rink, and once because of scheduling issues I traveled an extra half hour to a third rink closer to her, though it’s too far for me to make this a regular thing.
- One coach texts and calls.
- One coach only texts; I don’t have her email address.
- One coach only does email; I don’t have her phone number. (Granted, she’s not my main coach, in which case I would probably ask for her number.)
- One coach mostly texts, sometimes calls, and sometimes emails.
- $50 for half hour.
Skating is NOT cheap!
- One coach invoices me at the beginning of the month, and I pay in advance.
- One coach trusts me to keep track of our lessons and pay her at the end of the month.
- I pay one coach every lesson, before we begin.
- One coach gave me the option of paying per lesson or buying a “package” of 10 in advance. Since she’s not my main coach, I pay weekly.
- One coach is like clockwork: We set a time and day, and unless we change things she is always ready to coach at that exact time, for exactly 30 minutes.
- One coach is very reliable and on time, and adheres to our lesson time pretty closely. Once we got carried away with showing me fun tricks and we went over the time alotted, but I was her last lesson of the day and that’s not the norm.
- One coach is pretty good about keeping to our schedule, but I generally figure there’s a 15-minute window where things might get pushed due to other students or other reasons. If she’s running late or needs to cancel she always lets me know in advance. Sometimes it’s pretty last-minute (the morning of, or even an hour before) but she won’t leave me hanging.
- One coach is terrible. If she were my main coach I would have long left, because she seems really scatter-brained and regularly forgets or flakes or is late. Twice I left the rink after skating the entire session without her, because it was expensive freestyle and I didn’t have money/time to waste. I wondered whether I’d gotten the day wrong, or if she’d forgotten, or maybe she’d gotten into an accident. She only told me she was running late after I called, after I’d gone home. I started confirming the day before our lesson, and half the time would get “Oh I’m out of town” or “Sorry I can’t make it.” I wonder if she’s this bad to her regular students, or if she just keeps forgetting/pushing me because I’m not one of her regulars.
- One coach is no-nonsense and professional, though not unfriendly. She’s cordial, just businesslike.
- One coach is very warm and fuzzy, giving me hugs after every lesson. She’s somewhat motherly and welcoming to all her students, chatting about personal lives on top of the skating stuff.
- One coach is the perfect (for me) level of professionalism and warmth. We chat about personal lives after our lessons, but not during them, like a co-worker you like and respect but don’t necessarily hang out with.
- Another coach is pretty close to the one above, maybe a little more open and friend-like. Like the co-worker you might go to happy hour with, but only right after work and not all the time.
In terms of skills and teaching ability, they’re all excellent — I wouldn’t continue with them if they weren’t and not at those prices. In the past several months since I’ve been taking from the additional coaches, I feel like my skills have sharply improved, and at an accelerated rate. Of course, that could merely be due to the increase in coaching time overall, which is significant enough to account for the progress. And it could also be that breaking my lessons into moves, spins, and jumps has helped me focus on them more effectively. But they all know their stuff, and overall it’s been a positive experience — and now some of my questions have been answered now that I’ve seen firsthand how different people operate.