Category Archives: Ask the Skating Pro

QnA: What is an appropriate age to start teaching my child to skate?

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Q. What is an appropriate age to start teaching my child to skate?

A. This is a common question, but one that varies greatly depending on the particular child. I have occasionally seen children under 3 in skates, but 5 or 6 is probably a good age to sign them up for a tots class to see how they enjoy skating and to find out if they can handle lessons. Most children are attentive and coordinated enough to make good progress by the time they are 8. It is important to remember that most children who start figure skating will not ever enter upper-level qualifying competitions, so they should be skating for the enjoyment and challenge that ice skating offers

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QnA: My child is struggling. Should I let her quit figure skating?

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Q. My 8 year old daughter has been skating for a year and a half. She just recently moved up to the Gamma level and has expressed a desire to quit skating. She has a history of quitting things when a greater effort is required (e.g. dance class, horseback riding), and I do not want this to be just a continuation of a pattern. She has competed successfully and likes competitions, but said she doesn’t like the work required. Do I insist she work through this or just let her off the hook? I think she can do this, but is just getting lazy! Thanks for your input.

A. As a pro I see this very frequently. Here are some of the things that I suggest. If you are not taking private lessons, I suggest that you try a few. Private lessons can provide the instructor with the option of introducing new skills that may be more fun than practicing three-turns! Skating must be fun and sometimes that means throwing in a few advanced skills even if the student is not quite ready for them. If you are taking privately, speak with your instructor about how both of you can add some fun to the learning process. Mix it up.

Games like skating with beanie babies on the head teach proper body alignment and posture while the student gets a fun challenge. A second part of “fun” is the social aspect. If your child does not have any friends at about the same level who skate, it’s highly unlikely they will continue. Having a friend to practice and play with is an important factor. Inquire about a club. Many rinks have figure skating clubs and junior clubs which could help you find some friends. They also give exposure to higher level skaters which might motivate your child to work harder to improve. Finally, if at all possible try to allow your child to request to go skating instead of prodding them to go. (Anything you want them to do, they won’t be interested in.) Good luck and let me know how it all turns out.

Note: Readers please feel to comment and offer your suggestions!

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QnA: How do we keep my son’s feet warmer on the ice?

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Q. My 6 year old son just started taking lessons, his feet freeze…what type of socks should he wear?

A. Usually we wear one thin pair of socks, similar to dress socks. The blade conducts the cold from the ice up into the boot. If you have room to put in an insole, that may help a little. It also is helpful to warm the boots up before putting them on. I sometimes use the blow dryer in the bathroom to blow hot air down into the boot. You could also use a hairdryer.

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QnA: When should my child start competitive skating?

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Q. My daughter is turning 6 yrs old and has been figure skating for the past four months. She passed Basic Level 3 skills test. She has a lot of speed, does a good waltz jump and spiral. Her instructor says she has progressed quickly and is ready to compete. Since I have nothing to compare her skill level to, it sounds a little soon to me to talk about competition skating. What do you think?

A. It sounds like your daughter is progressing quickly! Four months does seem a little soon, but realize that it may take several more months to get a program perfected enough to compete with. Most competitions do break down the groups by level and sometimes by age. In other words, she probably won’t be competing against someone with a far superior skill level. Many coaches encourage competitions early to keep students motivated and give them goals to pursue. Frequently, a competition will add new excitement and enthusiasm to skating. Explain to your coach that you want competitions to be an encouraging and a confidence building event. Knowing this, hopefully, they will make sure that your student is prepared before that very 1st competition!

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QnA: Recommendations for Diet and Exercise Programs

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Q. My daughter is 10, and she has been skating for two years and she is now on her Axel but not landed it yet. I want a diet and exercise program for her that she can do in her room before school using the VCR. Can you recommend a video for her to work along with in the mornings. Also any videos that she can look at for extension of arms, landings etc and body, hand posture. I do not have the extra money for ballet lessons. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. Thank you!!!!!

A. Hello, and thanks for your question. There are instructional videos on the market for both ballet and pilates. Three for Ballet are : The Ballet Workout, Ballet Class for Beginners, A Fantasy Garden Ballet Class (for younger kids). We plan to have these available on our site soon, but for right now you may search through Amazon and do a video search for ballet. I also recommend Pilates for ice skaters. This is an exercise method designed to develop strength and flexibility.

Ann-Margreth Frei instructional video series on DVDSome videos for Pilates are: Denise Austin- Mat Workout, Hillary Burnett’s: Mind, Body Mat, and The Method:Dynamic Toning. You also might check at the YMCA; frequently they offer classes in ballet or pilates at inexpensive costs.

We also have a set of videos on our site called the Magic of Style, which are very good and I highly recommend them. We have numerous books on diet and health in our Skater’s Library so please refer to it for diet information. I hope that I have been of some help.

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QnA: When do I Get My Daughter her own Figure Skates?

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Q. What sort of skates should I get for my three year old daughter who has yet to go skating but seems to have a great deal of interest in it?

A. I would rent skates until she shows sustained interest such as a 6 or 8 week class. After she finishes the class, if she is still interested, new skates could be a reward for her committment to finishing the class. Too many parents buy expensive skates before the child even knows if they really enjoy skating.

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Ice Skates for the 3yo Interested Skater

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Q. What sort of skates should I get for my three-year-old daughter who has yet to go skating but seems to have a great deal of interest in it?

A. I would suggest that you rent figure skates until she shows sustained definite interest. Put her in a 6 or 8-week group lessons class. After she finishes the class, if she is still interested, new ice skates could be a reward for her commitment to finishing the lessons. Too many parents buy expensive skates before the child even knows if they truly enjoy skating.

When you she shows that interest, we would be more than happy to help you through our Pro Shop at IceSkatingWorld.com.

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