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Figure Skating Partner Tryout Etiquette


Ice Dance Partners

Ice Dance Partners

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I received the following letter from a parent of a figure skater:

    I was wondering if you could give me some advice on partner tryout etiquette and expectations.

    What is my responsibility as a parent?

    Do I split the lesson costs for each lesson with the potential partner's parent?

    Should I expect to have to pay for any individual lessons with the coaches?

    At what point should I expect feedback from the coaches?

    My plan is to stay in the lobby with a book and stay out of the way. Do I need to be involved beyond that?

    Pair Skater's Mom

Here's my reply:

    (Note: This reply comes from national and international ice dance coach and US ice dance national technical specialist Tiffany Hyden-Dombeck.)

    Dear Pair Skater's Mom:

    Splitting Costs:

    Have a discussion with the parents of the skater your child is trying out with, and come to an agreement in advance as to how the financial aspect of the tryout will be handled.

    Since both skaters are "trying out" and have equal long-term interests in the potential partnership, I would typically suggest that all tryout costs be split equally.

    If one person is flying in and staying at a hotel, I would suggest that the travel, coaching and ice expenses are split evenly.

    Some people find it easier if one party is paying for travel expenses that the other party agrees to cover all lessons and ice time for the tryout. There is no "set" policy.

    Communicate In Advance:

    Each tryout situation is unique, and in each case the most important thing is up-front communication. Both parties should communicate in advance with one another how the costs of the tryout will be split, whether or not each party is willing to relocate, and whether or not the parties involved are willing to make the coaching changes and/or expand their coaching team in order to make the partnership happen.

    It is also important that the short-term and long-term goals of each skater and the level of commitment to the training required be communicated up-front so that each family can make an educated decision as to whether or not a partnership with the other skater is something that is in the best interest of their child.

    Should I expect to have to pay for any individual lessons with the coaches?

    No, not typically.

    At what point should I expect feedback from the coaches?

    This depends on the involvement of your current coaches. Hopefully your current coach is involved in the process, and will help you with this communication. Usually the coaches will talk after a tryout has occured and discuss the pros and cons of the potential match-up. Then each of the coaches communicates to their skater and the parents of their skater their professional opinion of the potential match.

    Parent Involvement:

    As a parent, I think you should watch the try-out. You want to get a sense of the training environment. You also want to assure yourself that this is a place that your child would be happy, and would not only develop as a skater but also as a well-rounded human being.

    You do not need to evaluate the tryout as the coaches will, but be a supportive parent and enjoy watching your child skate.

    Tryouts can feel to skaters like awkward blind-dates. Your child will likely appreciate having the familiarity of their parent being present as they take their first few strokes together with someone they may have never even met before.

    Happy Skating!

    Tiffany Hyden-Dombeck
    Former World and International competitor in Ice Dance
    US Figure Skating Triple Gold Medalist
    US National and International Coach
    World Junior and Senior Grand Prix Coach
    PSA Level V Ranking
    US National Technical Specialist
    Member of US Figure Skating Ice Dance Committee and Ice Dance Development Committee

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