Parent Guide: Season Planning

by Adrienne Koob-Doddy

Welcome to the new season! The season after the completion of an Olympic cycle is always extra interesting; new rules are in place, new dances are being introduced, and new expectations are set by coaches and skaters alike. Regardless of what level your child is skating at, the new season is a great time to get organized on what is to come. Today’s topic is about season planning- why it’s necessary, why it will help your child, and how to approach the subject with your child’s coaching team.

Having a plan for the season eliminates the question that some coaches cringe at…WHY? “Why do we need more ballet, why do we need to add extra ice time, why do we need a new costume designer?” When parents, coaches, and skaters are all in the know, there is no reason to seek the rationale for changes in the training schedule. By having a meeting at the start of the season, where you can create new goals and the strategy to meet them, everyone can move forward understanding why the plan is what it is.

Most of us respond well to schedules. It allows us to not worry about the day-to-day technicalities and frees up our mind to concentrate on higher order tasks. I think this is one of the most important reasons to plan a season. Skaters can focus on being attentive for lessons and responsible during practice time. They don’t need to be preoccupied about their schedule; they should only have to worry about maximizing their time on the ice. Parents can then focus on outside areas that will enhance lessons- when the schedule is set they can plan transportation, meals, rest, and the other obligations in their family. There is nothing more disruptive to effective training than when a skating schedule constantly changes, inevitably resulting in the loss of lesson and practice time, and thus progress.

Lastly, as a parent and most likely the majority financier of this sport, planning the season and understanding what is to come will make it easier to budget the year. When parents understand what the plan is and why additional expenses are valuable (there’s that why again!), they are generally more responsive to these changes and willing to find a way to make it work. Skating is expensive, we all know this. I believe it is unfair to ask clients to continually shell out money when they are not fully in the know of why a service is needed. Furthermore, a season inevitably has (financial) hiccups along the way, so when we can budget for the majority of the expenses, it’s easier to manage the bumps in the road.

Have I convinced you yet to have a season planning meeting? I sure hope so! I think, on the whole, most coaches are willing and able to have this meeting. However, there are some that may be resistant. Perhaps they are afraid you will make demands they cannot meet, and that yours or your child’s goals are too lofty; this is something we will cover in the next post. Perhaps they are worried about asking for further financial output from your family. Perhaps it’s difficult to have the conversation because it forces the coaching team to confront their own ability to plan, implement, and hold themselves accountable for the season.

If your child’s coach is resistant, perhaps they just need a gentle reminder that you are all on the same team. You all want the skater to have a successful season. Present the idea of the meeting in a positive and upbeat tone, and be ready to compliment your child’s coach with the successes from the past season! Come prepared with your excitement and praise, and don’t forget to ask your child what they think went well too. There is always something good that comes from a skating season, and something to learn. The most effective coaching teams can see both, and they are eager to adapt and reinvent their plans over time. Skaters can always find growth when they, their coaches, and their support system take the time to reflect, celebrate, and adapt their training for the start of the new season.