Establishing a set of team rules should be a priority when creating a new team. Clear rules on issues such as behaviour, attendance, or payment of fees helps define what is expected of skaters and the consequences they will face if they do not adhere to rules set for all members. Having a clear set of rules and communicating them to the skaters and parents at the beginning of the season will help settle conflicts as they arise during the season.
Many team managers create a document (often referred to as a Skater’s Contract or Team Agreement) that can be distributed to parents and skaters and signed by all as proof of their knowledge and acceptance of the team’s rules. Rules and the behaviour they require should be set in a manner that encourages healthy participation and respect for the basic principles of sportsmanship and safety. They should include requirements for skater behaviour during practices and when representing the team at outside events, rules on attendance and tardiness for practice, specify what attire is required during practice, rules on basic safety (long hair tied back, no gum, no jewellery, etc.) and rules for behaviour during travel. A sample Code of Conduct and Team Rules document is included in Appendix F.
Policies for Alternates
As part of the team rules, a policy for the naming or selection of alternates at competitions should be defined by the coach and approved by the team manager.
Alternate selection is entirely at the discretion of the coach and no parent or manager should have an influence on this selection. The coach’s decision is made according to the goals set for the team at the start of the season and is based on many factors that may include technical ability, skating skills, knowledge of the program, improvement, attitude, attendance, dedication and illness or injuries. In some cases, two skaters will be placed for practice in the same spot so that they may continue to train and progress with the team during the season. When a competition approaches, one of the two skaters sharing the spot is named as an alternate. In teams that are more participatory or recreational in nature, coaches will try to allow each skater to skate at a minimum of one event in the season, unless his or her skating skills are too weak and the skater presents a safety concern by skating with the team. For recreational teams it is always preferable to try to have everyone skate at events as much as possible and not have any alternates at competition. The goal for teams at the Beginner I & II level is to encourage participation for all and avoid alternates entirely.