“Coaching Confessions: The Importance of Self-Learning and the Sweet Spot in Skateboarding”

So this is what happened last night, I went to MeiFoo Skatepark to coach one of my kids; when I arrived everyone was there, a few coaches and many kids of course.

One of the other coaches had a student who was struggling to Ollie manual the stage. The student was dragging their tail as their foot position was too far back on the tail. The student repeated this mistake for 15-20 minutes, with the coach offering encouragement each time.

I noticed the mistake immediately and wanted to help, but didn’t want to overstep the coach’s boundaries. Eventually, I suggested to the coach that the student’s foot position should be on the “sweet spot” of the tail (the flat bit near the bolts) when they try to manual. This is the “secret” to holding a manual and is widely taught on YouTube. However, the coach brushed me off and insisted that the student would figure it out through trial and error.

I thought to myself, “why did the parents hire this coach? To teach or to be a playmate with encouraging words?” It was clear to me that the coach didn’t even know about the “sweet spot.”

Later, when the coach was away, the student came up to me and asked about the “secret” I had told the coach. In 30 seconds, I showed the student where to put their foot and gave a few tips. The student dropped in and was able to manual half the stage, and was clearly excited about their progress. When the coach returned, he seemed annoyed that I had intervened, but the student continued to practice with the correct technique and eventually landed the trick.

It was frustrating to see a coach who couldn’t spot such a basic mistake and didn’t seem interested in learning how to correct it. I believe that self-learning and continually seeking new information are key to being a good instructor, and I hope that this coach will consider further education to improve their skills.