Category Archives: Coaches Corner

How to Choose Music for a Sport that Requires Music

5 Steps for Figure Skaters

by Catherine Collings

Let’s face it.  There are many sports that require music to compete such as Figure Skating, Gymnastics, Dressage, and Synchronized Swimming (to name a few). We are going to use figure skating as our example in this article.

Choosing music is probably the most important part of the athletes’ season. Whether the skater is an international athlete or a beginner choosing his or her first piece, the choice is critical as not only does the music need to fit the skaters’ abilities, but also their personality.

There are several steps to the daunting task of finding that perfect program piece.

1. The most important and golden rule: Pick pieces that are skater appropriate.
Imagine a 6 year old skating to “The Gladiator” trying their hardest to do cross overs around the end into their waltz jump while this dramatic music is blaring throughout the rink. Ridiculous! IN MY PERSONAL OPINION? YES! This would not be showing off the young skater’s skills, it is drowning them out and making them look insignificant in comparison to the music.
It’s all about finding “THE” balance, that complementary piece that is going to highlight that skaters every move. Music that the skater can get into and really enjoy skating to as many younger skaters will skate to a piece for more than one season. World level skaters usually only keep the piece for one season.

Music Notes2. Coaches play an important role when it comes to choosing music. Some coaches are very heavy-handed in this process, but ultimately it is the skater’s choice. If the coach wants a skater to skate to a certain piece of music, however, the skater just cannot relate to it, you needn’t be bothered to use that piece. Not only will this show through, but choreographing and practicing the program will become boring and something the skater will loathe. Skating is hard enough without the extra stress of skating to a program you just have no feeling for.

3. Always research pieces of music in the style that motivates the skater nice and early. Don’t leave it until the last minute before the program(s) need to be choreographed. Everyone will end up disappointed, not to mention stressed, rushed and ultimately unhappy!

When a skater hears a piece of music they like, have them write it down! Turn on the radio, use the internet, borrow cd’s and start listening. They will know when they hear the right piece. It will make them want to skate and it will inspire them.

4. DO NOT cut the coach out altogether, take the pieces that are short-listed back to him/her and discuss together what is right for the skater. The coach is better qualified to know what will best suit the style of skating in question.

5. Ultimately, once the Coach and skater have decided on what piece of music to use, the music needs to be edited to the correct length. This is completely dependent on the level of the skater. Most skaters now enlist a professional music editor, such as Ultimate Edges of Excellence LLC to have their music digitally mastered. Some coaches still prefer to cut the music themselves.

On a personal note, I personally work alongside many coaches, parents and athletes of several different sports that request several pieces of music, music ideas or style of music with what we call rough edits to send to the skater, who in turn picks a program or comes up with more ideas to be rough cut. This system is time efficient and works extremely well globally.

No matter how you do it, ultimately the skater and or athlete must be happy and feel something and enjoy themselves when skating to the music. Take as long as necessary, get it right, and it will be a happy and successful season!

Author : Catherine Collings CEO Ultimate Edges of Excellence

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Axels Advice from some Professional Figure Skating Instructors

In the past we asked some professional ice skating instructors their advice on helping skaters work on and land their axels.  Here is what they shared with the Ice Skating World community concerning this all-important jump.

Subject: AXELS

Submitted by: T.G
“In response to the axel gaining height…. I would have the skater do back-to-back axels. See how many they can do in a row type of game. This will force the skater to develop power when she is entering the jump. By the third or forth axel they will really have to work on the take off . Afterwards, remind them of the muscles they were using and to try to apply that on an axel when being done by itself. This exercise usually takes a few weeks to work, but with patience, power will develop and it will result in more height.”

Submitted by: Valerie
“My advice is to work back spin and walking over to the backspin. The student can work on the jump at home by jumping up and turning back on stair step. Pay close attention to the free leg and have them practice swinging free leg in and up. Good for those with inverted hip lines. Happy axels!”

Submitted by: Katie
“Although I am not a coach, I am a figure skater who figured out how to do a proper axle about a year ago with the help of my coach. Her tips were ‘kick up,’ ‘don’t stop with top pick before takeoff,’ ‘stand straight,’ ‘transfer weight in the air,’ and ‘keep your right arm and whole right side up.’ All these tips can be used for my doubles too. I just thought I’d share the tips I’ve learned. Good luck and happy skating!”

Submitted by: Sylvie Kademian
Rink: Kettering Ice Arena
“Have your student try the jump from a stand still. That way he/she has no forward momentum to help complete the rotation. From a stand still, the only way the student will get the rotation is to jump ‘up’ instead of ‘out.’ Once the student can confidently do it from a stand still, move to an entrance from a forward outside edge. Then do an entrance from crossovers. HOPE THIS HELPS.”

Submitted by: Angela
“[Response to Patti Brown] Hi Patti, I have a student that tends to get more ice coverage on this jump than height. Unfortunately, this jump is so intimidating. I would work on making sure that when the skater is making the transition from the gliding foot to the take off foot they do not fall to an inside edge (outside edge to outside edge), they keep their chest and chin up the whole time (if they look down, that’s where they will stay!), and the free leg and arms work together. And as their weight transfers in the air, an example I use is: it’s like a fireman sliding down the pole. Anyway, I hope this helps.”

Submitted by: Chris Mattern,

Rink:  Starcenter, Dallas
“[Response to Patti Brown]. I had a student with the same problem I found I needed to put a little skid in her take off. That makes her go up instead of out it also initiates the rotation. Not a big skid just about 2-3 inches right at the end of her take off. Also on the back edge have her lean into the circle and make sure she’s not lunging forward when she steps in. I hope this helps and good luck!”

Submitted by: Marta Nilsen, Lexington Ice & Recreation

“I like to start my students working on waltz jumps into backspins a month or two before I plan to start on the axel. This way they are practicing the actions and gaining muscle memory before we really start working on it. I think this adds to their confidence when they actually attempt the axel for the first few times.”

Subject: AXELS
Submitted by: Patti Brown, Centennial Ice Arena Highland Park
“I am glad that this topic is here because I am having a devil of a time with a student and her axel. My biggest problem with her is that she has no lift in the jump but great ice coverage and she does not get the concept of attacking the jump. We have done waltz-loop, waltz back scratch, double bunny hops. I have had her jump towards the boards so she has to lift in the jump otherwise she hits the boards.”


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Kate McSwain’s First Choreography Reel

by Kate McSwain

Okay! So here it is. My first choreography reel: a “collage” of a lot of my work thus far! Thank you so much to the skaters who supported me and skated for me in this.

You are the reason I do what I do. Special thanks shoutout to: Jeremy Abbott, Rachael Flatt, Wesley Campbell, Alex Johnson, Sarah Zanolli, David Ings, Garrett Kling, Sean Marshinski, Jodi Porter Haller and Kimberly Felton!


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Plyometrics: Beneficial for All Disciplines of Skating, Singles, Pairs and Ice Dance

 by Carl M. Poe

Reprinted with premission from :The Professional Skater Magazine
July / August 1996 – pp. 37 – 38.
©1996 by Professional Skaters Association

With the emergence of various off-ice training program theories, a handful of ideas or concepts are available for skaters to utilize in their training. The method of Plyometric training should be among the main training components (along with strength, flexibility and endurance conditioning) for complete development of the skater. More specifically, plyometric training is not just for the singles skater who wants increased explosiveness for jumping, or greater eccentric leg development for landing strength. Plyometrics is just as valuable to utilize for pairs and ice dance in order for performance enhancement.

Pair skaters can utilize plyometric training not only for jump performance but to increase upper body dynamic power for their respective skill movements on-ice (lifts, throw jumps, etc). Ice dancers can perform plyometric training drills for Hip/Leg power and speed of movement performing various footwork drills, lateral hops and bounds and other related movements. Also, ice dancers can benefit from upper-body plyometric (arm drills) for enhanced dynamic power to enhance on-ice lifts and arm positioning. The importance of plyometric training specific to these three disciplines, involves speed/strength enhancement of the Hip/Leg, Torso/Abdominal and Arm/Shoulder and Upper Back areas.

Example of Plyometric Drills for Singles, Pairs and Ice Dancers may include the following:

A. Singles-

  • 1. Double-Leg and Single-Leg Jumps in Place
  • 2. Double-Leg and Single-Leg Horizontal and Vertical Bounds
  • 3. Double-Leg and Single-Leg Box Jumps
  • 4. Rotational Jumps (weighted)
  • 5. Medicine Ball Rotational Drills
  • 6. Abdominal Plyometric Sit-Ups

B. Pairs-

  • 1. Same as Above (singles, 1 – 6)
  • 2. Medicine Ball Chest Pass
  • 3. Medicine Ball Throws and Catches
  • 4. Medicine Ball Push-Ups
  • 5. Drop Push-Ups

C. Ice Dance -

  • 1. Double-Leg and Single-Leg Strides
  • 2. Double-Leg and Single-Leg Hops (lateral and horizontal)
  • 3. Alternating Foreward and Backward Bounds
  • 4. Med Ball Rotational Drills
  • 5. Medicine Ball Abdominal Sit-Ups
  • 6. Med Ball Throws and Catches
  • 7. Medicine Ball Push-Ups

Finally, coaches and skaters should understand specific principles (guidelines) of off-ice plyometric training. In order to benefit from the training adaptations of plyometrics, the following guidelines are recommended for safety and proper execution of Plyometric Training:

I. Safety

  1. Training drills need to be appropriate for the age and level of the skater.
  2. A general and specific total-body strength training phase should be implemented 6-8 weeks prior to beginning jump/ Plyometric training.
  3. Proper progression (intensity) of drills from general motor-skill development to sport-specific.
  4. Proper Equipment
    • a. Footwear: skaters should wear shoes with adequate ankle/heel support (i.e. basketball or cross-training shoes).
    • b. Soft Landing Surface: mats, cushioned aerobic floor, sprung wooden floor, or soft grass should be utilized for performing drills.
    • c. Boxes: jump boxes should be durable with an adequate non-skid landing surface – Heights for skaters (Preliminary – Senior level) can range from 8″ to 35″ respectively.

II. Technique (emphasis should be placed on the following)

  1. Explosive takeoff, good knee-bend, arm-swing and appropriate vertical positioning of the trunk, back and head.
  2. Control of landing, absorbing (eccentric) the landing with a good positioning of the upper body (arms) head, back and trunk.
  3. key to success for jump/ plyometric training involves emphasizing the following:
    • a. Maximal effort on jump / drill attempts
    • b. Appropriate use of both upper body (arms) and lower body (hip / legs)
    • c. Correct posture or body positioning.
    • d. Quickness (speed) – When landing and taking-oft for another jump attempt, the skater must ‘Minimize” the amount of time spent on the ground or floor. Must be a quick rebound jump.

Cad M. Poe, M. S., C. S. C. S., served as the office strength and conditioning coach for the Colorado Springs World Arena, Colorado Spdngs, CO. Mr. Poe has been involved with strength/power training and conditioning training ofskaters beginning with his work at the United States Olympic Training Center and currently through the USFSA at the Elite and Regional Training Camp levels. For any questions regarding plyometric training for figure skaters, please contact Mr. Poe via the PSA directory.

Recommended books: Progressive Plyometrics for Kids

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QnA: When should my child start competitive skating?


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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What Should I Do and When Should I Do It – Ethics

by David Shulman
(PSA Legal Counsel – 1996 )

Reprinted with premission from :the Professional Skater Magazine
July / August 1996 – pp. 37 – 38.
©1996 by Professional Skaters Association

At the recent World Conference in Chicago, discussion was held on ethics as it may impact the skating coach. Many questions were raised dealing with the relationship between students and their coach and the quest of such students by other coaches.

Solicit… to seek to obtain by persuasion, entreaty, or formal application. To entice or lure.

Consider the following: You arrive at the rink at 5:30 a.m. to begin working with your new pair team. As you enter the office area, you note a large photograph of a coach recently hired in the rink and attached to the photograph is a listing of the coach’s background and awards. In prominent black letters is the statement the coach has been a past world team member in Pairs, has numerous medals from various skating competitions and has been acknowledged as an outstanding Pair coach. As you enter the locker room you note a message light indicating there is a phone message for you. You dial in your password and the following message is heard: ‘Thank you for teaching our children. We have decided to start lessons with Mr. X who has great Pair coaching experience and a vast background of accomplishments and experience. We hope you will understand.”

Do you understand? Probably not. At that moment you are furious for a variety of reasons not the least of which is the early morning hour and the frustration of having lost what you believe to be an outstanding pair team to an unethical coach. Did the coach act unethically?

Consider the same scenario, except as you approach the rink you note that numerous cars in the parking lot seem to have pieces of paper tucked into the door handles. Curious, you approach one of the cars and pull the paper from the door handle, open it up and read it. Inside on a printed sheet is a complete outline of the newly hired coach with a suggestion in the copy that if a student were to take from this coach they would have much better chances both at tests and in competition. Unethical?

Advertise… to make a public announcement of, especially to proclaim the qualities or advantages of (a product or business) so as to increase sales….to make known; call attention to.

Consider the following: Upon opening your mail, you discover a flyer has been sent to you extolling the virtues of a husband and wife team recently hired at your rink. The flyer describes their various accomplishments and appears to make statements leading a skater to conclude that if one or both of these coaches worked with them a remarkable improvement would be made.

As you are putting down the flyer, the phone rings and it is the parent of one of your best students calling to inquire if you knew anything about this particular coaching team. It is evident from the conversation the parent has only a mild interest but you are curious as to the manner in which the parent was contacted. It appears they also received the flyer and had no personal contact. Trying to be professional, you suggest that this is merely a form of advertising and there isn’t much you can say about the ability or the lack thereof. Within moments, your phone rings three more times with additional calls from parents which now has you alarmed. It seems each of the parents received the flyer and some of them have expressed an interest in “just trying out the new coaches”.

Is there an ethical violation? Would it be an ethical violation for you to make some comment to your parents regarding your thoughts about this type of conduct? Should you contact the coaches directly?

The law prevents a party from interfering with business-contract relations of other persons. For example, if a business man has a contract with another business, it is illegal and subject to a damage claim if a third party attempts to interfere with that contract relationship. The question arises as to the definition of the word “interfere”. If a direct contact is made with one of the parties by a third person which encourages the breaking of the contract, the law views this as a “tortious interference”. Such activity will subject the third party to a damage claim by one of the contracting parties who may have lost income or business as a result of the interference.

Indeed, it is possible that a coach who has a national competitor, a steady flow of income from the competitor and perhaps a contract with the competitor for future earnings, to make a claim against an invading coach who attempts to steal away the student by interfering with the student-coach relationship. Such a claim would be subject to proof and require direct evidence of interference.

It is a common experience in skating to have coaches indirectly contact your students. The Professional Skaters Association has made it clear through its Rules of Ethical Conduct that such contact, with the clear idea of obtaining the skater as a student, is not appropriate and will be sanctioned. The difficulty of establishing proof when the contact with the student is subtle, poses some obstacles. Is a birthday card sent to another student, not your own, appropriate?

Is a sympathy card sent to a student who is not your own, appropriate at a time of sorrow? What about offers to “just keep an eye on a skater at competition, not interfere in any way and I’ll be there if you need me….” a form of interference with the relationship between a student and another coach?

This article was written to raise as many questions as it might answer. Each situation must be addressed individually but you will know in your gut when something is wrong or when the action you are about to take is unethical. Consider this definition: General distribution of literature or knowledge of credentials and background is not considered to be solicitation. Personal contact with skaters or parents, directly or through a third party, with reference to lesson availability, credentials or invitation to instruct is a definite violation and should be considered solicitation.

If someone is creating a problem for you, analyze the situation carefully and try to find the bright line between aggressive marketing and interference with the business relationship between you, your skaters and the parent.

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How Can Synchronized Skating Help my (or my child’s) Figure Skating?

by Dierdre Dizon

Drill teams and precision have received a bad wrap. While some parents may have let their daughters join a team for a year for fun, if your child was serious and had a future in skating (read “Olympics”), you would never waste her time or your money on a team. It was for skaters who couldn’t hack it. Right?

Well, it never really was. But that’s the reputation synchronized skating seems to have. It’s for those who just aren’t good enough to compete individually and it’s a waste of time for anyone who is. That is completely untrue.

If your daughter (well, actually it is a co-ed sport, but its like 90% female in the US) has a passion for skating and the talent to go with it, spending some time on a team may actually improve her skating and move her ahead of her peers.

Consider this. You’re shoulder to shoulder with a line of skaters zooming down the ice–crossovers, three turns, edges, mohawks and everyone is still standing and in line at the other end of the ice. This takes incredible control from every member of the team

Adult National ChampionshipsSkaters learn how to do neat footwork right under their own bodies, not sprawled out all sloppy and crazy. You can’t get away with that in a line or you will trip your neighbor. Learning how to skate at exact speeds and put each step at the correct time in the music (so everyone does the steps at the same moment) will improve a skater’s accuracy and performance in an individual routine. The skaters are having fun while practicing moves in the field and other maneuvers at the same time.

Team practices also help stamina. Skaters have to skate for 2 to 4 minutes or more straight through. There is usually no “slow” part in the middle for catching one’s breath. And during precious on-ice practice time, you repeat sections and finally the entire program over and over. After that kind of workout, an individual program is a piece of cake.

Serious USFSA teams also know the importance of performing. The coach probably says “smile” almost as often as “keep those lines straight.” And since the judges sit high up in order to appreciate the formations, team members learn from the beginning to keep their heads up and smile. Skaters also need to maintain excellent posture and strong arms to look good and maintain the proper formations.

These are just some of the benefits. Being on a team also has other advantages. Single skating is an individual sport–one that often puts “friends” or acquaintances against each other. Being on a team not only gives skaters the opportunity to work together and learn from a team experience. It also get ever member (and parent) of the team routing for teammates, anxious for their success and improvements. After all, as each individual skater improves, it brings up the level of the entire team. So don’t scough at team skaters and don’t ignore it until you give it a try.

Dierdre is member of LA Express, an adult synchronized skating team. In 1995 they took the silver at Pacific Coast and the pewter at Nationals

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To Be or Not to Be…A Corporation

A feature of Coaches’ Corner for Ice Skating World

by David Shulman (PSA Legal Counsel – 1997 )

Reprinted with premission from : The Professional Skater Magazine May / June 1997 – p. 29. ©1996 by Professional Skaters Association

A number of skating coaches have sought to operate businesses other than the teaching of skating to accumulate property and earn income. During the course of this quest for additional income and a more secure future, business opportunities may arise which suggest the forming of a corporation to operate that business.

The leading reason for incorporating any business is to gain personal protection from the corporate debts. If someone gets hurt on your business premises or perhaps a deal goes badly, you want to make sure that the only assets which are in jeopardy belong to the corporation. You don’t want to have your personal estate being attached for the debts of a business which you operate. If you incorporate your business and properly follow the rules governing corporations, you may avoid personal liability and attachment of your personal assets for the business debts. If you fail to follow the rules, a court can pierce the corporate veil and hold you and other owners personally liable for the debts of the corporation business. It is therefore important that you understand exactly how a corporation is expected to operate and follow all of the rules for such operation.

Until recently, corporations could only operate for a limited duration and have a limited allowable purpose. Most legislatures have now allowed corporations to be formed under a new business structure, the limited liability company (LLC) which offers liability protection as a corporation with fewer restrictions. It is relatively easy to begin the corporate structuring by forming a limited liability company but certain rules should be followed at the outset.

  1. Provide enough capital upon the formation of the business to meet your expected expenses.
  2. Keep business records separate from personal records.
  3. Document all transactions between the business and any of the corporate shareholders – owners.
  4. File all reports required by your particular state’s secretary of state.

Because legislatures allow corporations to shield their owners from liability and thus encourage business development, it is important that the shareholders-owners follow all of the established rules required for the operation in any particular state. When you are forming your corporation, make sure that there are enough assets to operate and pay all creditors at the beginning of the corporate existence. Always keep separate income and expense sheets for personal expenses versus corporation expenses. Hold annual meetings to elect officers and directors, even if they are the same people as the shareholders. Minutes of these meetings must be kept. Nothing is more exciting than to have an audit by a state taxing authority only to discover that five years of corporate records need to be constructed in the lawyer’s office two days before the audit is to take place. Not only is this expensive, it is very dangerous to the corporate existence.

Be sure to file any annual reports with a proper state agency. Failure to file these reports, and pay any filing fee, could result in the corporation being dissolved. Make sure major decisions are made by all of the directors as required under the operational rules of the corporation. One individual making decisions without consulting the board, when it is required to do so, could result in a court ordering the dissolution of a corporation which is a fraud.

Finally, make it clear that the business is operating under a corporate structure. Always have officers sign contracts and purchase orders in the corporation’s name, never in their own name. Failure to properly indicate your corporate capacity could result in personal liability for any business debt to which you have agreed to pay.

Whenever corporate funds are used to pay any of the owner’s personal expenses, it should be authorized by the directors as part of the owner’s compensation package. Always, always treat the corporation as a separate legal entity. Operating under the rules as suggested may be a nuisance but it is the price for protection of your personal estate.

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Obtain a New Professional Position with Help from PSA Coaches Manual

by Shirley Carlson Hughes
(New Age Professional Skater (NAPS) Chairman – 1996)

Reprinted with premission from :The Professional Skater Magazine
February / March 1996 – pp. 27 – 28.
©1996 by Professional Skaters Association

What follows is an excerpt from the PSA Coaches Manual which deals with the challenge of finding a new professional position.


Establishing Personal Goals

It is imperative to begin the process of finding the right job by developing a clear understanding of what you want from the job. No two people have exactly the same objectives for the professional aspect of their lives and defining and prioritizing your own goals is a critical first step in a successful job search. There are many ways to approach this process but consider writing down your goals and discussing them with close friends or associates whose opinion you respect. Examples of questions which you may wish to consider while establishing these goals include the following:

What aspect of teaching interests you? Recreational/group lessons or competitive skaters? How much time are you prepared to spend? Do you want a full or pant-time job? Will you work early mornings? Evenings? Weekends? Will you relocate? Do you have long term goals include running a skating program or skating rink? Do you wish to advance to elite coaching? Are you prepared to attend seminars, clinics and explore other career enhancing opportunities? Would you be prepared to team teach?

Once established and prioritized, these personal goals will be an important tool in shaping your résumé, focusing your search for opportunities and in preparing for interviews.

Writing a Resume

The French word résumé means summary and refers to a fact sheet that identifies, describes and lists the qualifications of a person in terms of experience and education. While you will never obtain a position solely on a resume, it may well be the key to obtaining an interview and eventually the job. Your résumé should be well-organized, concise, clearly formatted and comprehensive. There are books available to help you develop a resume, either at most bookstores or in a library. Many computer programs enable you to format a resume. After preparing a résumé, consider asking friends or associates to review and comment on it. There are also résumé services available if you would feel comfortable with professional assistance. Résumés are not normally returned so ensure you keep the original. Take the time to have high quality copies made – remember, first impressions are important.

Arrange your résumé so that your most impressive qualifications appear first. Never overstate your experience or qualifications. List job experience and education in reverse chronological order. You may wish to include a list of references or reference letters with the résumé or, at a minimum, offer references if requested. Your résumé would normally include the following types of information:

  • Name, address, telephone number
  • Ratings (as applicable)
  • Highest tests passed (USFSA, ISI, ISU, other)
  • Competitive experience with highest title first (list only the most important)
  • Amateur training, clinics (including when, where, with whom)
  • Amateur or professional shows and exhibitions
  • Coaching experience (highest level skater you have coached)
  • Coaching education (seminars, coaches clinics, classroom, student-teacher)
  • Other education (college, high school, music, dance)
  • Outside interests
  • Personal (married, children)

When your résumé is prepared you must decide where to send it. Seek the help of friends and associates. Be sure that it reaches the hands of someone who is in a position to offer a job. Some of the sources that you should consider in determining where to

send the résumé include local ice rinks, lists of clubs in the USFSA Rulebook, lists of rinks in ISI Directory, advertisements in Skating, The Professional Skater and other publications. There is also a Job Placement Directory in the PSA Office.

Use a brief cover letter with each résumé. This is your chance to personalize and focus your communication regarding a specific opportunity. Note your most relevant qualifications, and explain your interest in the position.

Remember, the résumé will always be an important tool in furthering your career. Even after you have the job, keep your résumé up to date. Consider revising it every six months. It helps you be prepared for the next opportunity and also gives you a benchmark to ask what you have done to increase your experience and nurture your professional growth.

Interviewing Effectively 

Once you have been contacted and invited to an interview begin by reviewing your résumé and list all the questions which you might be asked. Find out as much as you can about the position and the person(s) who may be interviewing you. Look your best, be on time, be concise, emphasize your best points, relax! Some of the questions which you might expect to be asked include:

How many years have you been skating? Why do you want to teach? What are your schedule restrictions? What level of teaching experience do you have?
Why did you leave your previous job? Will you bring your own students?
What levels will you teach (adults, tots, etc.)? Are you prepared to make a commitment to stay for a specified period? Do you intend to continue your professional education?
Will you participate in community events, advertising, etc.?

It is important that you interact with your interviewer in a proactive manner. Use the interview as an opportunity to learn more about the job being offered. You should prepare a list of questions which you want to ask during the interview. The following list may provide some examples.

  • Will you be an employee or an independent contractor?
  • If employee: What would be the base salary? How often would you be paid? Would taxes be withheld?
  • If contractor: What would be your commission and how would you be paid?
  • Who will be your direct supervisor (rink manager, skating director, club)?
  • What are the payment policies for private lessons, group lessons?
  • What are commissions? How much is paid? How often are they paid? When are they due? On which lessons?
  • Is liability insurance required? Provided? How is it obtained? What kind? What level? What is the cost? (Liability insurance is available through the PSA).
  • Are you required to join the PSA, ISI or both?
  • Will you be expected to be rated by the PSA?
  • What are the policies with regard to setting fees for private lessons?
  • What is the policy with regard to teaching at other rinks? Are there any limitations or restrictions?
  • Are there rink/club policies regarding private lessons? Can you teach anyone who asks?
  • Are there set policies/formats for group lessons? Are there tests at the end of each set? USFSA, ISI or other?
  • Will you be asked to provide administrative support? How much? Are you paid?
  • Will you be expected to cover certain sessions as the pro on duty?
  • Will you be expected to give tests, judge basic skills competitions, ISI competitions?
  • Will you be expected to volunteer time for stroking clinics, or club/rink shows?
  • Is there a pro room? Is there a dress code?

You may be hired at the interview but more likely that you will be told that you will be called. Do not hesitate to call back and reemphasize your interest in the position if you have not had any follow up within a week or so. On the other hand, inform your potential employer in a timely manner if you decide you do not want the job or have accepted another opportunity.

First Impressions

After you get the job you need to make special preparations for the first few days. It really is true that first impressions last a long time and there are things that you can do to ensure that the first impressions you make are good ones:

  • Be on time and look professional. Many people at the rink will see you before they meet you. Present a good image to everyone.
  • Work hard at meeting the many groups at a typical ice rink including the other pros, management, ice maintenance staff, office staff, and skate shop staff. Remember names, write them down if that helps.
  • Familiarize yourself with the entire rink schedule, take a brochure home and study it. Know the sessions and the prices, even for those areas which you do not teach.
  • Learn the rules of the rink; what is permitted on public sessions, who you can instruct and at what level. Determine all the details of group lessons, including levels, prices, group sizes, etc.
  • Identify the clubs at your rink and when their sessions meet. Do you need special permission to teach on these sessions? Who can authorize you?
  • Find out when and if tests are given, and the name and phone number of the test chairman.

You are not expected to know everything when you first arrive. It’s the best time to ask questions and learn everything you can about your situation. Make it an exciting, challenging experience – not a threatening one.

Editor’s Note: Ice Skating World offers a Job Board which lists jobs at ice skating rinks throughout the country. Check it out

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Perceptual Modes or V.A.K Learning Styles

 by Ann-Margreth Frei

Reprinted with premission from :The Professional Skater Magazine
March / April 1997 – pp. 13- 14.
©1997 by Professional Skaters Association

Learning styles or perceptual modes of learning represent one of the most effective tools we have for diagnosing how our students learn. They allow us to adjust our delivery and create clear lines of communication that are essential to the learning process. By taking a big chunk out of the trial and error process of teaching, the end result is a greater satisfaction for the teacher and a real sense of accomplishment for the students.

V.A.K. = Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic

Senses play an important part in learning to skate. When we teach, the more we cater to all senses rather than just one or two, the more deeply we will anchor the skill we are trying to teach.

Everyone tends to learn more dominantly in one of the three modes; visually, auditorily or kinesthetically. What is your learning sense? Interestingly enough, if you are dominant visually, y9u may tend to teach primarily to that sense. It is important to remember that our students may be dominant in another learning sense which we will need to cater to in order to be most effective.

Statistics indicate that:

29% of students are visual learners

23% are auditory learners

34% are kinesthetic learners and

14% are mixed learners

The visual learners will see, imitate and be able to mimic instantly. Clear demonstrations or modeling other skaters is helpful to them. They will say “I see what you mean,” or”l don’t get the picture, show me what you want me to do.” The visual learners need a clear image of what they are going to accomplish from both the “big picture” and detailed perspectives. When explaining, create word pictures that help the students visualize the movements. They like to watch, visualize themselves doing the same movement and then try it. Solicit feedback for understanding relative to the student’s clarity of the image you have created.

The auditory learners need explanations and all the data. They are more matter of fact and methodical. They need to think things through so they have a clear and logical understanding of the movement pattern that they are attempting. They might say “that rings a bell,” “yes I hear you,” or “I understand.” Building a detailed framework is essential because it creates a logical, progressive and orderly sequence for developing, combining and applying skills. They are very aware of sound so make them hear the scratching of their stroking or the smoothness of good skating. Checking for understanding on a cognitive (knowledge gained) level needs to be done often to ensure that the students really understand.

The kinesthetic learners need to feel the movements and get their feet wet. They will say things like “that jump felt good,” or “it’s not comfortable, I feel awkward doing this.” Take a single focus and then explore all around it to help the students develop accurate feelings and sensations associated with the correct movement. Have the students verbalize their internal state after performing so they can increase their kinesthetic (feeling) awareness. Use language and explanations that are “feeling” specific (e.g. feel the ball of your foot in the spin).

You may need to help your students become aware of their senses. They might need to learn to feel parts of their bodies, to learn to watch your demonstrations and learn to listen to the sounds of their blades (and you will)!

Practice presenting pieces of your lesson from every angle, then from all the angles.

  1. This is what it looks like. Do a demonstration in segments or completely. (Use another student to demonstrate if you can’t demonstrate.)
  2. Explain the skill technically in details and if suitable mention the sound of it. “Did you hear the scratching on your take off or the skidding?”
  3. Tell or ask your students what it feels like. “Can you feel the tension in your leg as you lock the knee of your free leg?”

Try to guess what people’s dominant sense is. Did one student have the light bulb turn on when they had to feel something or another when you demonstrated clearly or took the time to give a good metaphor? Make a list of metaphors to help draw on your students senses and past experiences. A metaphor “is like.” It looks like a V. It feels like spreading butter on toast. It sounds like a gust of wind.

Statistics show the retention percentage through sensory perceptions:

30% is retained by seeing only

11% is retained by hearing only

50% is retained by seeing and hearing

70% is retained by seeding, hearing and doing

90% is retained by seeing, hearing, verbalizing and doing.


Ann-Margreth Frei has published a very popular and wonderful 3-volume set on ice skating instruction. Check it out in the Ice Skating World Pro Shop.

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