In the July/August issue of Professional Skater magazine, coach Bob Mock (see right) outlined three types of parents that coaches and officials generally deal with. From personal experience and observation, I can attest to the three types, although thankfully, most skaters' parents I've seen are either Type I or Type III. My friends and I have a running joke that goes something like this: "If you think there's no Type II parent at your rink, that means you're the one."
Reprinted with permission from Professional Skater magazine and Bob Mock.
Speaking of Parents by Bob Mock
At every competition and every test session I hear coaches and judges voicing concerns over the dramatic change of behavior by parents in the past several years. For better or worse, skating reflects our society as a whole. Parents today have much different lifestyles than they did a decade ago, leading to a vastly different set of circumstances to deal with for coaches and officials.
Generally, three types of parents are stalking the ice rinks of America.
Type I parents are rarely seen by anyone. They are the folks who drop off their skaters at the rink door and whiz off in their BMWs. These parents are usually wrapped up in their own careers or lifestyles and feel skating is a good pursuit for their children. Type I parents leave decisions up to the coach and rarely interfere unless skating conflicts with their own world, i.e. vacations, family functions, etc.
Coaches and officials seldom have difficulty with these parents. They pay their bills and maintain a low (or no) profile in the skating world. Usually, coaches becomes surrogate parents to Type I's children and skaters develop a strong relationship with their coaches. Training areas, where very little is expected of parents other than paying the coaching bill, tend to be full of Type I parents' children. Coaches are very used to Type I parents. They generally like the arrangement and the skaters seem to do well.
Type II parents make coaches and officials very uncomfortable as they are (or seem to be) at the rink 24 hours a day. They are advocates looking for a cause and they usually become obsessed with their children's skating careers, living through their children.
Type II parents have no loyalty to any coach or rink and no respect for the ISI or U.S. Figure Skating system or officials. They are consumers of skating, trying to buy, maneuver and outsmart the competition. As they lose touch with reality (usually in the first or second year of skating), they become a coach's nightmare, as they feel that they must have total control over the coach and the decisions being made.
Winning and passing tests are their only priority. Anything less is usually dealt with through threatening a coaching change. Children of Type II's tend to flourish early on but fizzle out from the stress of constant demands of parents who are sure they are headed for the Olympics. Type II parents and (unfortunately) their skaters are generally eliminated by the system. Eventually, they cross the wrong official or are done in by their own hands - given enough rope.
Type III parents are becoming more and more rare. They are the parents who step back and let the coaches do their job. Type IIIs know that their duties as parents involve supporting roles that are vital to the success of their child. They see that the skater gets to the rink on schedule, is properly dressed for skating and lives a happy and well-balanced life away from the arena.
At tests and competitions, they turn their children over to the coaches and do not interfere. Type III parents monitor the progress of their child as an individual first and within their peer group second (if at all).
Type III parents make appointments with the coaches if questions arise and are always ready to pitch in if a coach needs input or help. They respect the knowledge of the coaches and listen to their recommendations. They also have utmost respect for the judges and for the ISI or U.S. Figure Skating System. Coaches feel fortunate to have Type IIIs around as they are generally a calming factor within the rink.
Coaches and officials are very concerned over the growth of Type II parents and their skaters within the skating community. As their numbers increase, they set a bad example for new parents coming into the sport and become a never-ending source of trouble for the rink, the club and the skating community.
The best way to avoid a problem is to set down rules early and stand behind them without hesitation.
Parents have a right to be informed by their coaches and to have a basic understanding of their children's progress, but coaches and judges must define the parent's role from the beginning. That is the way to have a healthy situation for the skater and everyone else involved.
NOTE: You can write to Bob Mock with comments or questions about this article at MBobMock[AT]aol[DOT]com. Please replace [AT] with @ and [DOT] with .