July 8, 2014

5 Things Skating Parents Should Do Before Competition

Hi there, skate-mom; hello there, skate-dad! Nice of you to drop by today. Although I know many of my wonderful readers are skaters themselves, today I thought it would be fun to turn my attention to the skating parents who are so crucial in a skaters life, in so many different ways. More specifically, I was brainstorming post ideas, and came to the conclusion that a post (or two) regarding parent behaviour in the competition environment would be a fun and (hopefully) useful thing to write about, for both seasoned and newer skating parents. Thus, I give you five things skating parents should do before their child competes! Read on, my lovelies!

Now this post is meant more as a whimsical look at how to bring comfort into your skaters life, and not as a serious list of how to manage an athlete. If you would like to read something which looks at the things a parent can do to support their child on a deeper level, then let me know, and I'll do my best! OK, now on to the 5 things...

#1 Chat With Coach
Have a chat with coach away from your child. Talk about how ready your skater is for the up-coming event, and try to get a feel for what the goal of this particular competition is. Not every competition is about winning (e.g. if your skater just moved up a level, this competition might be more about seeing how they place within the new group, or just getting their name and face out there to a new set of judges and fellow competitors), so it's important to understand the goal of the event. This will help you be your most supportive, and prepare you to egg your skater on towards the real goal, not just towards a gold medal.

#2 Organise, Organise, Organise...
If your skater is younger, then you'll be organising the skate bag and costume anyway, but don't neglect a little help in these areas even if your child is of age to take care of it themselves. I don't mean hovering over your skater as they put their things in order: however, sitting down the night before the ride to the comp to make sure the packing list is checked off, and then packing an emergency bag on your end could really help avoid the small stresses of realising the only thing you have to wipe your nose on is the rink bathroom paper, or that you've got to run and buy water and candy because none was brought along in the first instance. Although these things seem trivial as you read this, having more things to do on the day means a higher stress level overall, and creates unnecessary tension that makes the whole experience less agreeable.

#3 Prep For Your Return
Yeah, I know. Who has time to think about the comp after-math right now anyway? It's hard, but preparing a few simple things for when you get home will give you that warm fuzzy-inside feeling, because it makes your life easier. Buy delicate washing detergent, and set aside a pillowcase or washing bag into which you can place your skater's costume. Get that baby washed, dried, and hung back in the closet in the days following the event. Same goes for tights. Getting the dress or shirt out of the closet the day before the next competition and realising it smells of sweat is not cute, and adds to the aforementioned stresses that have a funny way of appearing out of nowhere come comp day. Put some food in your freezer, and if appropriate (usually after a major event) have a thank-you card for coach already bought and sat on the counter-top.

#4 And While You're At It...
Stock up on your skater's favourite indulgence. Ice cream, anybody? If your skater rocked the ice, they'll want a celebration as they slump into their favourite arm chair. If your skater bottomed out, then guess what? That ice cream is gonna be good pity food. Either way, having a treat waiting is an awesome way of showing you care, and your skater will carry that memory for a long time. I still remember post-competition pizza, gotten from the take-out joint around the corner from the rink, eaten on the hour drive home. That pizza has become an integral part of early-competition memories for me.

#4½ Make Your Skater Comfy
OK, OK, it was supposed to be 5 points, but this is a sub-point to points 3 and 4... and a really sweet thing to do. I'm sure your skater has a favourite pair of sweat pants, that T-shirt they always reach for, a pair of slippers that cocoon their tired feet. Perhaps they even have a favourite blanket or pillow. If you have time, wash these garments (well, not the pillow) and place them on their bed for their return from the event. Slipping into clean, fresh, soft, familiar clothes after the gruelling day of physical activity will be an absolute delight. I still do this whenever I return from a glide at the rink - it's a very quick and free way to feel awesome!

#5 Check Everything
I know it sounds dumb, but take the time to check all the things that stand between your skater and the competition through once.

If you'll be travelling by road to the comp, this includes gas and oil levels in your car, tire pressure, and having the correct change for any toll roads. If you're travelling by train or plane to the event, check and place all necessary documents, including printable boarding passes or tickets into a seal-able folder or bag for ease of use (oh, and stock up on those see-thru bags for any liquids while you're at it - such a pain to get to security and see there are none left).

In any case, check: blade screws are not coming loose, laces are in tact (yes I've seen a skater about to go on to the warm up and the lace broke, sending her into a blind panic and a bid to re-lace the skate in 6 minutes), zips on costumes work, crystals/beads are not coming off, tights are not holed, music works, that you've put the music onto your smart phone (and carry a cable to hook it up to the sound system in case of CD-failure), and re-check plans with coach regarding the time-line of the event (when to arrive, where to meet, when to start off-ice warm-up, etc.)

And that concludes my 5 top tips for pre-competition skating-parent awesomeness. Did I miss something out? I'm sure I must have, as I'm not a skating parent, so if you are, let me know about it!

Until next time, prep for those comps guys and girls!
Happy skating,
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  1. Oh dear, you forgot the two most important things....

    -- Clean and jerk the siblings: let them know what we expect for their behavior during the competition, and pack up some food and entertainment to keep them quietly busy should they get bored.

    -- Shout it out: let the aunts and cousins know so that they can show up to make some noise!!


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  2. Parents should take a breath! If we get frazzled/stressed, our skaters will certainly feel it!

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  3. Do you have any posts like this about testing? I guess testing is different in the UK than it is in America, but having some sort of physical checklist for that helps too. Also some ways to get psyched up or just for the skater to prepare! Thanks!

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    1. Hi Anon!

      I will absolutely add this to my posts-to-do list! Thanks so much for the suggestion. Do you have any thing to contribute to the post? Any one thing you always do before a test? You're right, the format and etiquette of a test will differ between the UK and the US, but I think a lot of what the skater is going through mentally and practical preparation tips can still be relevant. If you want to know when this post goes live, please consider "Liking" the Facebook page or checking back often to see what you inspired!

      Thanks, happy skating,

    2. I actually just took my first test, so there's nothing much for me to contribute except that to keep from getting nervous I just act like it's no big deal - as soon as I start to think 'Oh my god-' I get panicked! I passed, but it was a pre-preliminary moves test.

    3. Thanks great news! Congratulations! Never belittle your achievements - every milestone is precious.

      It's totally understandable that you get panicked before testing, the majority of skaters do! I'm working on a pre-testing post just for you... check back soon :)


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