Relationship dynamics and dimensions of support for figure skaters and significant others: Implications for schooling

Year: 2005

Author: Cheng, Jacqueline, Marsh, Herb, Dowson, Martin, Martin, Andrew

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Research pertaining to support given to figure skaters is sparse despite the gruelling and demanding nature of the sport in terms of performance, training, economic and familial pressures (Kestnbaum, 2003). This qualitative study explored perceptions of parents and coaches regarding the types of support they provide, and the perceptions of athletes (figure skaters) regarding the support they receive. A total of 10 figure skaters of international level, seven parents, and 10 coaches from ice centres across the United Kingdom participated. An interview schedule prompting athletes', parents' and coaches' responses about their perceptions of support was used. An important finding was the rate of attendance in school by elite skaters. Three out of the 10 interviewed had stopped attending school with 1 having no intention of returning. Conversations with other skaters revealed an additional 3 non-attendees in order to focus on their skating full-time. Furthermore, skaters who were in school were expected to take time off school during international and national competitions, receiving their homework assignments through "homework buddies". Coaches' and parents' opportunities to provide diverse information and advice to skaters appear to be valuable in developing self-determined and confident sport performers. However, discrepancies are apparent in the perceptions of parents and coaches as to the type of support and involvement they provide.