Ethics Guidelines for Team Teaching

The purpose of these ethical guidelines is to provide a framework of conduct above and beyond the minimum standards provided by the code of ethics as set forth in the bylaws of the Professional Skaters Association. 

The Professional Skaters Association and its membership aspire to the highest ideals of professionalism and acknowledge that the following guidelines should be followed in the performance of professional services provided to those with whom we have contact.
Please note: this is a professional courtesy, not a legal position.

General:
Since the debut of the International Judging System, team coaching has become essential. Every jump, spin, and step is critical in maximizing the value of a program. Today there are Jump, spin, and moves in the field specialists, choreographers, trainers, and all sorts of off ice dance instructors. To compete well at the qualifying level, the right combination of technical and artistic skills must be blended perfectly. In order for team teaching to be effective for the coach and the skater, all team members need to support each other 100%. Team teaching can be effective when relationships are strong and positive. It can be negative when coaches do not support one another and/or allow athletes or parents to play one coach against another.  For various reasons or factors, not all coaches want to work within a team-coaching environment.  While a solo coaching environment can be successful, many will still contract additional specialists to help periodically.

The primary or head coach is the person who makes the final decisions for the skater and serves as the overall coordinator of the teams’ activities. Secondary coaches need to understand that, while some recognition should go their direction, it is the primary coach who is recognized and accountable for the overall training environment of the athlete. 

There are pros and cons to team teaching and all coaches are urged to consider whether this is the right way for them to teach.

 

Definitions:

Primary coach: manages, leads, monitors, and divides responsibilities intended to help accomplish goals and objectives among the secondary and specialty coaches.

Secondary coach: supports primary coach, performs the tasks assigned to them by the primary coach, and communicates progress reports to the primary coach directly.

Specialty coach: choreographer, ballet teacher, off ice trainer, etc., performs the tasks assigned to them by the primary coach, and communicates progress reports to the primary coach directly.

Ingredients for a Successful Coaching Team

  • Respect for all other team coaches
  • Communication (regular and on-going)
  • Trust
  • Straightforwardness
  • Defined roles
  • Division of tasks

Attributes of a Team Coach:

  • Trustworthiness
  • Moral
  • Ethical
  • Supportive
  • Team player
  • Works within his or her boundaries

Obligations of Coaches:

Communication is always the best way to ensure a positive training environment for all involved: the athlete, coaches, and parents. Establishing who will be the primary coach, secondary coach, etc; will help avoid confusion. In addition, assigning tasks to each member of the team will help avoid conflict.  Team coaches should take great care to speak positively about the “team.” Primary coaches should tell parents exactly what the role of the secondary coach/specialty coach will be.

Miscellaneous:

The team coaching staff should support each other at all times and with all clients.

If there is a breakdown within the team, the coaches should discuss and resolve the issue in private, or when appropriate, in a meeting with parents, skaters, and team members.

If the decision is to break the team up, leave the particulars between you and the other coach. Airing the problems in front of your clients, other coaches, etc., only creates more problems. 

At the end of each season, evaluate the “team’s” performance. Speak candidly about areas which worked well as well as areas which could have been handled better.

Parents/Athletes are the client and have the right to work with and/or specify primary coaches they feel are best for their skater.

Coaches who choose to teach in teams should have the division of roles spelled out as specifically as possible. Putting it in writing may be the best way to avoid confusion down the road. Below are suggestions of topics to discuss.

  • Who is the primary coach?
  • Who will be the spokesperson for the skater/skaters?
  • Who is the secondary coach?
  • Who is the specialty coach?
  • Who decides what competitions to attend and when the skater will be testing?
  • Who will conduct press interviews?
  • Specific job description of primary coach, secondary coach, specialty coach and trainer
  • General expectations of positions. Team player, etc.
  • How many lessons per week will each coach give?
    • The scheduling time of lessons should be respected by all involved
    • Imperative to maintain a schedule of lessons that helps create progress
  • Length of time secondary and/or specialty coach will be working with the skater/skaters (one season; two months; one week per month)
  • The primary coach and secondary coach should discuss the scenario of a secondary coach taking over the student as the head coach. This is a touchy subject and both parties should come to a mutual agreement prior to entering into a team teaching relationship.

 

Each coach should remember that athletes come and athletes go. Coaches remain longer than the athletes train.  Therefore, it is imperative that all coaches treat each other with courtesy and respect at all times.

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