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Primary Coach - Every Figure Skater Needs a Main Coach


Primary Coach John A.W. Nicks and 2012 US Figure Skating Champion Ashley Wagner

Primary Coach John A.W. Nicks and 2012 US Figure Skating Champion Ashley Wagner

Photo by Matthew Stockman - Getty Images
Definition: Competitive figure skaters of today may have several skating teachers or coaches, but it is very important that one coach is designated as a skater's main coach and takes on the primary coach role.

Beginning figure skaters may only have one private lesson teacher. That one teacher functions as a skater's primary coach. Once a skater advances in the sport, a skater's first and only skating teacher may naturally take on the decision making role and act as a skater's primary coach.

Parents of figure skaters will find the job of being a supportive skating parent much easier once they turn over the decision making part of a child's skating career to a primary coach.

Adult figure skaters may find it difficult to allow one coach to make all the decisions regarding their skating and may not ever designate one coach as the primary coach.

Also Known As: Main coach
Designated Primary Figure Skating Coach
A primary coach does not just teach a skater; a primary coach is a serious figure skater's manager. It is the primary coach's job to take complete charge of a a figure skater's skating and training.

A primary coach may do the following for a skater:

  • A primary figure skating coach will meet with a skater and his or her parents to set a practice, lesson, and training schedule.
  • A primary coach will decide which competitions a skater will participate in and how to prepare for each competition.
  • A primary coach will make arrangements for a skater to work with supplemental figure skating coaches on stroking, spins, jumps, choreography, ballet, power, moves in the field, off-ice training, and ice dancing.
  • A primary coach will make decisions on a skater's competition costumes.
  • A primary coach will give a skater and his or her parents guidance on what type of boots and blades a skater needs.
  • The coach will usually be the one that accompanies a figure skater to competitions. If a primary coach can't accompany a skater to a competition, he or she may designate one of the skater's supplemental coaches to coach a skater at a competition. Sometimes a primary coach will designate a coaching colleague from another rink or state to coach his or her skater at a skating competition.
  • A primary coach will make sure a skater passes all the necessary skating tests before deadline dates in order for a skater to qualify for skating competition.

Dangers of skating parents taking on the manager role (that is, not designating a primary coach):

Parents of figure skaters sometimes have a hard time giving up the decision making power when it comes to their child's skating and training, but it is highly recommended that skating parents trust the primary coach they choose. If a primary coach is allowed to control a child's skating without interference, it is possible a skater can go far.

If a skater has several coaches and no coach takes on the primary coach role, it may seem that no coach really cares about the skater if there is no designated primary coach. What really is happening is that each coach that teaches the skater thinks someone else is in charge. The skater's parents feel they are piecing together their child's training and lessons, and the skater's coaches may think they are "stepping on toes" or even violating ethics if they say or do anything that may seem they wish to take charge. This situation can seem very frustrating for a skating family, but also for the coaches involved.

Primary Coaches Who Have Made Figure Skating Champions:

Primary Coaches May Team-Teach:

Most primary figure skating coaches may have one or two teaching assistants or may function in a team-teaching capacity. An example of a primary coaching team was Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband who coached 2010 Olympic Ice Dance Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. They also coached several other ice dance champions and medalists. Sadly, in 2012, it was announced that the coaching team of Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband were going their separate ways, but the Zoeva-Shpilband team had functioned together as a primary coaching team.

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