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This varies greatly depending on the goal of the skater.
If you're looking to be able to skate on your own recreationally, it can take 4-10 lessons to learn the very basic skills.
If you decide to progress past the very basics, it can take quite a while. I explain it all in this video!
There is no precise answer to when a child is ready to begin skating in a structured environment. I have taught children as young as age 2 and adults into their 60s in private lessons!
Rinks usually require children to be at least 3 years old for group lessons. Some three-year-old children are very mobile and can do complete stops or skate backward with relative ease.
A child is ready to skate when they can comfortably walk with reasonably straight ankles while wearing skates. Children must be able to understand simple instructions and follow directions from a person other than their parents. In order to avoid unnecessary accidents, all children must be properly toilet trained.
However, young children often have short attention spans and can find group instruction challenging. As long as your child can walk well and is potty trained, they can begin in private lessons.
Children develop at different rates. Physical, emotional, and social development varies with each child, as does their readiness to learn to skate. What may work for one beginner may not work for another. If your child has a lot of difficulties, you can always try again in a few weeks or months.
The ability to ice skate can add to a child's overall development of motor skills.
Some young children are very mobile and can do complete stops or skate backward with relative ease. However, some skaters find group instruction challenging. Skaters under the group lesson age (usually 3 or 4) or who prefer a private lesson environment begin their skating journey with one-on-one instruction.
There is no right or wrong way to begin ice skating. What is most important is that the choice you make fits your budget and schedule.
If a skater struggles with a particular element in group lessons, or by the time they reach Basic Skills 3 or 4, private lessons are suggested as a supplement as the skills become more challenging at these levels.
Skaters interested in competitions and shows (available to skaters of ALL levels) should have a private lesson coach to prepare properly. In fact, you will have to list your fully compliant coach when you register for a competition, and your coach must approve your entry.
I teach both group and private lessons. However, the rink will assign your coach if you sign up for group lessons. There is no guarantee that Coach Aimée will be assigned to your class if you take group lessons.
Rental skates are fine for the first few lessons. But, rental skates often have dull blades and have been worn down by many different people wearing them, offering little in the way of support.
As soon as you make a commitment to skating, it is wise to invest in your own skates.
The most important thing to consider when purchasing skates is that they must be the correct size and offer the appropriate amount of support for the skater's age, size, and skating level.
I always recommend that a skater go to a reputable skate shop to be fitted by a good technician.
In my area, we are lucky to have Greg at Polar Skate Shop in East Hanover, NJ, and I highly recommend that all my skaters go there!
A good skate tech, like Greg, knows which brands and models are appropriate for a skater and their budget.
Bending the knees is one of the single most critical skills to learn in skating, so anything that inhibits knee bending should be avoided. In addition, knee pads prevent a beginner from being able to push up off the ice from a fall because they may slide on the ice.
The sliding issue is one reason that snow pants are not recommended either. Waterproof-style pants will slide on the ice, and beginners have difficulty pushing up from a fall when this occurs.
It is also difficult for a coach to see if a skater is bending their knees properly when the skater is wearing bulking clothes such as snow pants. Fitted leggings are suggested. If you think you will get too cold, wear tights under the leggings or multiple layers of fitted pants.
In addition, it's best not to wear waterproof or hockey gloves either. These styles of gloves may cause the skater difficulty when trying to get up from the ice or if they need to hold on to their coach.
A good general rule is to practice outside of lessons as often as you take lessons. If you have one half-hour lesson each week, you'll want to practice independently for an additional half-hour outside of the lesson, ideally on a different day.
If you take two half-hour lessons each week, you'll want to make sure that you practice on your own for two half-hour sessions on different days of the week. You can do more, of course, but this is ideal for young skaters who are just starting out with a limited budget.
Skaters progress better when they skate at least twice a week, as it takes a minimum of two times per week to train a muscle group.
Skaters that wish to compete and/or take moves in the field tests should figure practice time according to their jumps. Each jump rotation equals an additional hour of practice and lessons (1:1 ratio). So, if you are working on a waltz jump, toe loop, salchow, and half loop, for example, you should be training on the ice for a minimum of 3 hours, split equally between independent practice and lessons.
If you have the dedication, budget, and time to spend hours on the ice every week with multiple lessons, you will progress faster and have more proficiency.
Off-ice warm-ups and cooldowns are recommended before each skating session or lesson to make the most of your time on the ice. In addition to skating, off-ice training by a professional certified in personal training or strength and conditioning is recommended at least twice a week. Proper nutrition will also assist skaters in excelling on the ice.
Founded in 1921, U.S. Figure Skating is a non-profit organization and the national governing body for the sport of figure skating in the United Skates. It is recognized as such by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and is the United States member of the International Skating Union (ISU).
U.S. Figure Skating regulates and governs the sport and defines and maintains the standard of skating proficiency. It specifies the rules for testing, competitions, and all other figure skating-related activities. U.S. Figure Skating promotes interest and participation in the sport by assisting member clubs, skaters, and athletes, appointing officials, organizing competitions, exhibitions, and other figure skating pursuits and offering a wide variety of programs. Athletes and officials who represent the United States at international figure skating competitions are selected by U.S. Figure Skating.
Learn to Skate USA offers programs for skaters of all ages and abilities through local rinks. Fully supported by U.S. Figure Skating, USA Hockey, and US Speedskating, with support from Special Olympics, the Professional Skaters Association (PSA), and the U.S. Ice Rink Association, Learn to Skate USA offers every student a heartfelt welcome, lifelong benefits, and fond memories. Passion: It's why Learn to Skate USA is recognized as the world's best ice skating program.
Skaters in group lessons are typically required to pay a membership fee each year (beginning July 1) as part of their registration to join Learn to Skate USA. This provides you with the following benefits:
Skaters that take private lessons and do not take group lessons may join Learn to Skate USA on their own or U.S. Figure Skating directly or through their local club. More information about clubs can be found by clicking here.
Skaters are required to be a member of U.S. Figure Skating either through a club or directly in order to skate on Freestyle Skating sessions - there are no exceptions.
U.S Figure Skating is recognized by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and International Skating Union (ISU) and oversees the qualifying competitive pipeline and eventual selection of athletes to represent the United States at international competitions, including the Olympic Winter Games.
U.S. Figure Skating, USA Hockey, and US Speedskating, with support from Special Olympics, the Professional Skaters Association, and the U.S. Ice Rink Association.
ISI was founded in 1959 as a nonprofit organization for owners, operators, and developers of ice skating facilities.
ISI created America’s original learn-to-skate program and has introduced more than 10 million individuals to the wonderful world of ice skating. In fact, when I was a child, I took ISI group lessons at Mennen Arena!
For many years, ISI was the only learn-to-skate program. It used to be that skaters would only join U.S. Figure Skating once they had their Axel!
I learned to skate through an ISI program when I was young. I'm a coach member of U.S. Figure Skating, Learn to Skate USA, and ISI. Coch Aimée Skating Academy is a registered ISI skating school recognized by PSA with an Excellence on Ice award. I am also an ISI Gold Judge.
World champions have come out of both learn-to-skate programs!
I like both programs, and many coaches actually prefer ISI's learn to skate program. The big difference is that ISI focuses on recreational skating, while Learn to Skate USA and U.S. Figure Skating are more competitive.
Depending on where you live, there may be more accessibility to ISI programs and competitions. However, in our area of New Jersey, there are few ISI skating programs, and most competitions tend to be sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating. This is because Learn to Skate USA is endorsed by U.S. Figure Skating, USA Hockey, US Speed Skating. That means that rinks have an easier transition for skaters that are going into figure skating, hockey, or speed skating from the Learn to Skate USA program.
Both programs offer a sound and logical skill progression. Although the order of progression is slightly different, you will learn to ice skate in either program.
The real key to learning to skate is time: You will improve no matter the program if you keep consistent with lessons and practice. So don't stress about which one is better!
You need the basics in place first to achieve more complex elements such as jumps and spins.
Appropriate skill progression is used by good coaches to achieve long-term athletic development and the future success of the skater.
Every skill builds on another, and higher-level elements are comprised of the building blocks of lower levels. A skater's progress can suffer if there is a break in the chain of skill development.
Introducing an element to a skater before they have the necessary skills in place can lead to frustration, injury, and lack of success, often resulting in the skater leaving the sport.
So, when a skater is struggling with an element, I often go back to a different skating skill to improve the building blocks rather than repeating the desired skill without the solid building blocks already in place.
A skater struggling with an element such as forward crossovers, for example, may not be able to hold proper forward edges securely or may not have a steady one-foot glide. These skills are necessary to execute forward crossovers correctly, so improving the earliest skills as a component to the desired skill works to ensure success.
Gaps in skills will become more apparent when trying to properly execute more complicated elements. Improper technique, from basic skills that have been rushed, are often very difficult to change.
So, a good coach will introduce the appropriate skills when you have mastered the fundamental skills that are required to properly execute that particular element.
Edge classes are recommended for skaters from Aspire through Senior/Gold skating test levels and are a great way for skaters to build camaraderie among other skaters at the rink, even across different levels and age groups.
Music is can be incorporated into an edge class as many skaters, especially those new to edges and moves in the field /skating skills, may have a changing time distributing edges and turns proportionately on a lobe. Counting and assigning a cadence to each pattern allows skaters to better understand the alignment of each lobe and the timing at which each turn should take place.
The time it takes to pass your tests largely depends on how much time you spend in lessons and quality independent practice.
While there is no set timeline, it takes a skater an average of 6 and half years to go from Pre-Preliminary to Senior (Gold Medalist):
While there is no set timeline, it takes a skater an average of 8 and half years to go from Pre-Preliminary to Senior (Gold Medalist):
Standing lessons are recommended as you always know when your lesson will take place.
HOWEVER, a standing lesson is not optional. Your coach is reserving that time for YOU, and you are expected to attend every lesson.
If you are sick or have another emergency, you should provide your coach with a minimum of 48 hours' notice to cancel or reschedule. More notice is always appreciated!
If you have a conflict with another activity or will be away, 2 weeks' notice is required.
In other words, you should not treat a standing lesson as something that can be canceled or rescheduled if another activity comes along for that week.
Your coach is reserving that time FOR YOU, and you are expected to keep your commitment to your coach each week.
PSA Ratings assure clubs, rinks, skaters, parents, and the general public that the coach they hire is technically qualified to instruct at the level in which they are rated, regardless of personal background and skating achievement.
More and more coaches are required to become rated by rinks and clubs. Many, like Coach Aimée, are choosing to do so voluntarily because it benefits both the coaches and athletes.
Achieving PSA Ratings takes a substantial amount of time and effort on a coach's behalf.
The first step in the Rating System is to take and pass a Basic Accreditation (BA) written exam or successfully complete the Foundations of Coaching Course (FCC). The BA exam is completed in the e-learning academy. The FCC is a one-day course held in various locations across the country. Coach Aimée passed the BA (2019) and completed the FCC (2022) course.
After passing the BA exam or FCC, the candidate can apply to begin taking the Sport Science & Medicine (SSM) exams. There are four SSM exams- one at each level: Registered Sport Science & Medicine (RSS) exam, Certified (CSS), Senior (SSS), and Master (MSS). Passing a SSM exam is not a rating by itself. It is a component of a rating, and a verbal exam in a specific discipline must be passed in order to achieve a rating. Coach Aimée has passed all SSM exams through Maste in 2019.
After passing the Registered Sport Science & Medicine exam, a candidate can apply to take the first of four verbal exams (Registered, Certified, Senior, and Master) in the discipline of their choice. Verbal rating exams are taken virtually or on-site at a verbal rating event, and registration is completed in the online events calendar. Exam panels will consist of three master-rated coaches as examiners and up to two trial examiners.
Coach Aimée has passed Registered Ratings exams for Program Director - RPD (2022), Moves/Skating Skills - RM (2021), and Group Instructor - RG (2020),
Once a rating has been earned, a coach must maintain at least a Professional or Premier PSA membership and a minimum of 28 educational credits over a three-year period through attendance at educational events to keep the rating active.
A coach may not advertise as a PSA rated coach unless the rating is active.
Once a rating has been earned, a coach must maintain at least a Professional or Premier PSA membership and a minimum of 28 educational credits over a three-year period through attendance at educational events to keep the rating active. A coach may not advertise as a PSA rated coach unless the rating is active.
Coach Aimée has three active PSA ratings: RPD, RM, RG.
The criteria to qualify for this program is directed toward the career accomplishments of PSA coaches based on the performance of their skaters/teams.
Rankings are discipline-specific and listed in increasing order beginning with the Fundamental Level. Then, from Level I to Level X.
If a higher level is achieved later, a ranked coach may re-apply to upgrade to that level or can apply for a ranking in another discipline.
Applications are accepted three times annually: April 1, August 1, and December 1.
U.S. Figure Skating and ISU records verify rankings.
1. Must be a current PSA member
2. Must have a minimum of a PSA Basic Accreditation rating or a PSA Foundations of Coaching
3. Must maintain and be current with PSA educational credits
4. Must meet the current U.S. Figure Skating Coach Compliance requirements
Coach Aimée has a PSA L1S-20 Ranking.
You must know how to teach skating effectively and efficiently, using sound techniques.
Teaching group learn-to-skate lessons as a group lesson assistance is usually the first step.
I suggest skaters interested in becoming coaches start by discussing your interest with your coach and the skating director at your rink. They can help you take the next steps!
View U.S. Figure Skating's chart of requirements for coach compliance.
View Coach Compliance Tips from PSA.
I highly recommend that all new and prospective coaches get on the path to becoming PSA-Rated. The PSA Rating process will help you become a better coach by helping you understand: what you are teaching and how you teach it, using safe, efficient, effective, and sound techniques.
Get started on your journey to becoming a PSA-Rated coach by joining PSA as a Basic Member! - If you need a sponsor, contact me.
Coach Aimée Skating Academy is a PSA Excellence on Ice awarded program, offering ice skating lessons and off-ice training in Morristown, Wayne, and Randolph, NJ.
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You’ve got a clean slate ahead of you. It’s filled with possibilities and opportunities – all you have to do is decide to TAKE CONTROL and train with intention.
My Annual Figure Skating Planner will help you take inventory and pinpoint the areas that are going well … and zero in on those areas that need a little attention.
Then, you’ll put your action plan together to take that first step toward your goals!