Parent Guide: Competition Survival Guide

by Adrienne Koob-Doddy

Happy August! While the competition season has begun, we are about to embark upon the qualifying season, the part of the year that I believe causes the most stress for ice dancers and their support systems. Now we come to the pivotal point where the results *actually* matter…they will determine if your skater gets a berth to the US Championships. At IDC, we thought a competition survival guide would help you get through this stressful, but exciting time of your child’s competitive season.

Pre- Competition:

  1. Get organized- set the stage for the competition by organizing official and unofficial ice time well in advance. Save the locations for the various rinks, hotels, airports in your phone so that regardless of where you are, you can access that info. A well-organized parent and coach will greatly alleviate any anxiety that your skater may be feeling prior to competition.
  2. Carry on all skates/costumes/back-up items- Seems obvious, but I will not let this one go unsaid. If flying, carry on ALL SKATING RELATED ITEMS! Yes, you can carry on your skates (now). Personal clothing can be purchased anywhere, but that custom made Fiesta Tango dress cannot be found at the local mall. As for back-up items- bring extra music, extra laces, skate tape, skate polish, practice outfits, makeup all on the plane too. Again, these are the pieces your child needs to feel at ease on the ice.
  3. Prepare yourself mentally- You have an amazing power as the parent to help set the stage mentally for your child. Remember, they can sense when you are nervous! Bring something for yourself to help ease your stress. Take a few days to remember what your child’s goals are and reflect back on their progress up to this point. If you can enter the event in a positive upbeat state, your child most likely will too!

During the competition:

  1. Be your child’s fan, not their coach- To piggyback off the last point, your child may experience a variety of emotions during the event. In my experience, the most helpful parents are the ones who don’t ask too many questions about results/points/mistakes but simply allow their child to vent whatever they are feeling. After that, feel free to provide encouragement and support and then send them back out there.
  2. Get to know the parents of your child’s competitors- We all know that figure skating is a marathon and not a race. Why not gain some friends along the way? Parents can be a great source of camaraderie to each other, and the competitive nature of the sport should not prevent you from creating bonds with each other. It never hurts to have another watchful mom noting where your child is, or to send along a text that the rink is running behind on the schedule. Isolating yourself from other families stops your ability to join the community of ice dancing, and without that community, it can feel like a long journey. LIkewise, it’s a wonderful example to show your child that being competitors doesn’t prevent you from being friends.


  1. Pause, Recover, Reflect- I always advise my students to take some time off after a major event. Note: not a vacation! Two full days usually does the trick for people- time to come home, do the laundry, relax, and get organized to come back to the rink and school. This pause is important; it allows the skater time to recover and reflect on the event. Perhaps in those two days at home they will share some thoughts with you that can help guide their training moving forward. The pause can help results settle in too- perhaps it’s a time to really relish the moment and the accomplishment, or perhaps it’s time to allow tempers to simmer down and get back to a good place before stepping on the ice. Regardless of the event outcome, it’s crucial to recover both physically and mentally.
  2. Reassess and look forward- Talk with your child’s coach once you all have returned home and ask, “What did you think?” Take the time to talk about how the goals are working for your child, and what needs to be tweaked moving forward. Whether you need to edit the training plan or not, it’s a wise idea to touch base after events so that everyone continues to be on the same page and the team works efficiently!