Iconic coach Audrey Weisiger launched a new internet radio show on November 7 via VoiceAmerica. Her show, titled "SPARQ1" featured Dr. Caroline Silby, renowned sports psychologist, and...me. If you missed the premiere show, click on this LINK or you can also download it on iTunes from VoiceAmerica.
When I agreed to do the show, Audrey asked us for our "Even Dozen," our top twelve tips for her listeners. My first reaction was, "Sure. No problem! I've been doing my blog since 2009 and most of it is about tips for parents."
Easier said than done.
When I sat down to actually put my thoughts to keyboard, I found myself a bit intimidated. I'm not a psychologist; I'm not a coach. Yes, I'm a professional communicator, but I'm not Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz or even Oprah. Basically, I'm a skate mom - one with a lot of ice under the bridge, but a skate mom, nonetheless. I drafted and rewrote my "Even Dozen" more than two dozen times.
The show rolled along and we were having a great conversation. Our 60 minutes flew by. At the end, Audrey asked Dr. Silby and me present our words of wisdom. Well, the short and long of it was we simply ran out of time, so Audrey is posting our answers on her site. She also asked us to list them for you. So, for better or worse, here are my Even Dozen:
- Remember that skating, like all sports, is a process. Every day is another step on a very long path. One (or even 100) setbacks are minor I the overall scheme of things.
- Unless you actually ARE a coach or a judge – don’t act like one. Just because you have ice burns on your backside from spending hours sitting on metal bleachers, that doesn’t make you qualified to do open heart surgery. It most certainly doesn’t make you qualified to “fix” things you perceive as wrong. We all had to crawl before we walked. Your skater has to twizzle before he or she triples. It’s a fact of sport and a fact of life. Besides, if it were that simple, you could get out there and show them how its done, right?
- Unless it actually IS the end of the world, don’t act like it is. Supporting your child is crucial. If you’re married, you took your spouse for better or for worse. Same thing should apply to your kid. Besides, the end of the world is much more permanent than a flutz..
- Take a “Great Expectations” Inventory. Is this something your child is committed to or are they doing it because it’s important to you? Make sure you’re ready to hold up the mirror and take a look at yourself. Believe me, by the time they hit their teens, it’s going to be pretty clear.
- Get a Life. Make sure there are other things that are important to you, and more in your skater’s life than just the rink, schoolwork and home. It’s easier said than done, but it really has to be done. Besides, the more experience you gain away from the rink, the more life experience your skater brings into his or her programs.
- Whenever you are tempted to engage in rink “politics,” look behind you and take a GIANT step back. Sooner than later, everyone gets really tired of all the spinning. Leave the spinning on the ice where the grades of execution actually count for something. It’s easy to say and probably one of the most difficult things to do, but try to be a diplomat and not a politician. There is a difference.
- There is a difference between hearing and listening – looking and seeing – talking and communicating. Your child has verbal and non verbal ways of letting you know if something is going well, or if there is a problem. Make sure you are listening carefully, seeing and assessing a situation and really communicating with not only your child but a coach. Everyone has a bad day – or two or five. Is there really a problem? Is it whining? Is it illness, injury, bad equipment? Is it a waning interest in the sport? There are so many things to consider. I found equipment and injury were the root cause to 80% of the problems over the years. Practice the KISS theory first. Keep it simple. If it isn’t, then..
- Know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. One of the most difficult decisions you have to make is making a change.
- Don’t burn bridges – just loosen the bolts one at a time. Usually the bridge you’re going to burn will collapse under its own weight. Skating is a small world. Many of the people you start with will be in your life for years and years to come.
- Enjoy the adventure – From the good to the bad and the downright ugly, everything you experience in this process is a gift. Some of them you might want to return like those ugly socks you got from your great aunt, but if you chose to take this road less traveled. Don’t walk away with nothing gained. I’ve seen that happen too many times.
- Keep a sense of humor. It’s not always easy, but it’s more useful than using your seat cushion as a flotation device.
- Pay it forward by giving back. Donate your time and talents to a cause that really means something to you, your family and your skater. The competitive window is very small. A love of skating can last a lifetime if you’re willing to give back.
There you have it: My words of wisdom. Take them for what they're worth. I offer them only as a guideline; certainly not as a road map. We all know what happened to iPhone 5. All I can do is help you get on a path and let you know that others of us have been scouting the trail before you. How you choose to approach your journey is based on what your final destination is.
Thank you, Audrey, for allowing me this opportunity. What you will offer to listeners over the next 13 weeks is unique; as unique as you are. I am honored to have helped you jump off this precipice and into the strange and wonderful world of communication in this social media age. I hope you ask me back.