June 7, 2010

How to: Start Figure Skating

This may sound like a pretty obvious title but some of you may be wondering how to get into the sport of ice skating. Maybe you want your child to partake in a sport, or maybe you yourself fancy hitting that ice for a quick whiz about. Skating is fun, invigorating, and a long-term source of challenge and fun! For many people its their 'me time' and helps them to escape the daily routine of work, family and other commitments.

So you've seen skating on TV and fancy having a go for yourself?! GREAT! Go you! You'll need to start by finding an ice rink near your hometown. Many skating-oriented websites displays extensive lists of rinks by country and/or region but this method is a little outdated these days as Google Maps can provide instantaneous information simply by typing in the name of your town or region followed by the words 'ice rink'.

Once you've located your nearest rink, visit their website if they have one, pop along to ask information about prices and session times directly at their box office. Ice rinks usually display a board with information on their coaches too which you may want to browse for future reference! The number of coaches/choreographers available at the rink will give you an idea of the size of the club - the more coaches, the more skaters!

The next step really depends on how secure you feel about going it alone versus taking some classes directly. You could partake in a 'public session' by turning up at the rink and hiring rental skates - simple as that, you simply take to the ice yourself for the alotted time. However, if you are looking to get good basic knowledge of skating, and maybe you're even a little nervous (exceedingly normal!) then a learn-to-skate programme will be a better fit for you as a budding figure skater.

Most, if not all, ice rinks run learn-to-skate programmes, and these are often held on the weekends. They consist of anything between 30 mins and several hours of ice time specifically for beginners, and different portions of the ice surface are dedicated to different groups, usually grouped by skating skill level. The classes are given by certified coaches who normally coach privately at your rink, although sometimes there will be apprentice coaches present too who are there to learn from the older coaches in the goal of passing their coaching diplomas. The coaches and their assistants will explain the moves you'll be mastering that day, go through them step-by-step and then provide constant support and advice while you, the group, try it out for yourselves. These schemes normally run for a set time (anywhere between 5 to 12 weeks) and enrollment can be done on-site. The cost varies from rink to rink but is generally quite inexpensive considering this is a very good way to become initiated with the sport of figure skating. You can check out nationally endorsed beginner skating programs via the website of your national skating body (NISA UK for the United Kingdom, and USFSA for the United States, for example)

Upon completion of these courses (in which you advance through the groups, collecting 'grades' along the way, usually finishing with 'gold' or an elevated number) many skaters (provided they have caught the skating bug!) go on to take private one-to-one lessons with coaches at their rink. Learn-to-skate programmes are a great way to get to know all the professionals at your local rinkand give you an idea for teaching styles of many of your local pros, which can be very instructive when it comes to choosing a coach at a later date!

In the U.K, the national learn-to-skate programme is called SkateUK, for more information click here.
In the U.S.A, the programme is named Basic Skills, click here for more info.

Your age has no importance as any ages can enroll in beginner programmes. Of course if you are a beginner adult skater you will need to be realistic about the fact that you will probably not make the Olympic team any time soon, but that is no reason to not start skating or have competitive aspirations! Today adult skating is a huge part of skating: national and international events exist for skaters ages 18 through to 100+! So don't let your age or other peoples' opinions slow you down if you are an aspiring adult skater!

Whether you decide to go it alone on a public session first, or enroll in a programme from the get-go, remember to have fun, stay safe, and enjoy your skating!

Until next time, I hope you get signed up to your first lesson!


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1 comment

  1. Thanks for your comments about age! I'm 25 and wanting to start but have been terrified that I'm too late to think about being able yo do it competitively!

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