I will not teach by theory!
I believe very strongly that you can't teach something if you can't demonstrate it. Which is part of why I stayed away from trying to teach anything I can't do pretty well.
I get that at the top competitive levels, where none of the coaches can do the most difficult things, that theory doesn't work. And I've known people who chose coaches who couldn't demonstrate much anymore. But I personally don't want to try to teach things I can't do well.
You can teach by theory. I've helped people with doubles and gotten them to land them before I landed mine, because teaching jumps is not the same as doing jumps. Sometimes you have to alter technique because the skater's biological configuration works optimally with adjustments, etc.
Quads these days are taught predominantly by coaches who have never done them.
Alexei Michin was a skater who never did triples, that I know of. He's still regarded as a preeminent jump technician on the planet.
You just have to have a knowledge of technique and how the body works. Many judges learned a lot of what they know through years of experience and consultation with other coaches.
That being said, from the perspective of a skater I totally agree with you. I got my doubles way more easily working with a coach that could say "It's really easy. Look at this..." For some reason, seeing that person do the element turns it into a sort of competition, and that tends to work well for my mindset.
But it's not a requirement. Skaters differ and different skaters will respond favorably to different coaching philosophies and different coaches with varying physical abilities.
And the harsh truth is that most skaters who lack the awareness to learn by description are u likely to get far, anyways. The number that would have is likely a margin for error, statistically.
By the time a skater is working on jumps and spins, they shouldn't need verbatim demonstrations of elements. They should have enough fluency in skating vocabulary and enough body awareness to do just fine. All of that can be acquired in a decent learn to skate program.
In short: Being a high level skater doesn't automatically make you a great coaching candidate, especially when you had all of your triples by 12-14.
Also, adults tend to learn more about the technical details from being coached than small kids, because they often demand technical details and far more elaborate explanations. They don't want to fall, so they want the entire schematic. "Just do it like this" often is not enough for them.
This is why some adults tend to teach above their level, even when they are lower level skaters. The fact that they are often less physically gifted than their younger peers does not impede their ability to learn, understand, and pass on information.
Plus, what if your skater spins and jumps in the opposite direction? Can't just turn away a pay check