Category Archives: Learn to Skate

Five Figure Skating Resolutions for the New Year

Marta Nilsen of Ice Skating World

by Marta Nilsen, PSA Master-rated coach

As ice skaters we are always looking to improve, especially over the previous season. The New Year is as good as time as any to evaluate our situation and finds ways to become a better figure skater. Below are five recommended steps for improving your figure skating and making better progress over the course of the next season.

1) Add another day of skating to your week.

Adding another day of skating per week can speed up your progress dramatically. If you can’t add another day, the next best thing would be to add two more hours per week of skating time. Instead of skating one hour per day for two days per week, instead skate two hours per day, two days per week.

2) Take a ballet class at least one day per week.

Ballet increases flexibility, strengthens body alignment and placement, and teaches proper jumping technique. This is a great way to get that super spiral or increase your jump height.

3) Participate in off-ice classes at least one time per week.

Magic Jump Rope from Ice Skating WorldOff-ice class is not just another workout. You will be practicing simulating skills that are done on the ice. Practicing off ice allows you to feel, see and understand the basic positions that your body must attain during skating moves. You will also learn exercises and stretches that can do at home. Check out tools such as the Spinner for off-ice training.

4) Go to at least three competitions away from your home rink this season.

Competitions push you to increase your skill level faster than any other method of training. Striving to do your best in a competition helps you to reach the goals that you have set for your skating.

5) Set figure skating goals.

You need a plan for where you are going and a process for how to get there. You decide where you would like to be, which you discuss with your skating coach, and then he or she makes a plan to help you reach it. All successful people set goals to help them reach their greatest potential, and successful ice skaters are no exception.

Best of luck in 2013!

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Welcome Back to Figure Skating

by Marta Nilsen

Ann Margreth-Frei ice skating coachDid you take ice skating lessons when you were younger? Maybe you stopped because of financial resons, or possibly logistics.  Whatever the reason, you never realized your aspirations . You are among thousands of adults wanting to return to your childhood passion, figure skating. You now have the time and financial capability to explore activities that you always wanted to when you were a kid.

Welcome back to figure skating!

As a figure skating coach I embrace adults who want to get re-introduced to the sport. Let me assure you that you are a welcome change from ice skating classes full of six year olds! You are interested in learning, enthusiastic and willing to try. Come on into the ice rink and try group or private lessons. Most rinks offer adult classes, which I recommend as a great place to start. If you want a more personalized approach, look for a private figure skating coach.

It’s never too late to learn! See you on the ice.

Marta Nilsen is a PSA Master-rated coach teaching at the Tampa Bay Figure Skating Academy (TBSA)

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Should I Let my Daughter Quit Figure Skating?

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. 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 figureskating 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. Why? Typical of many kids, anything you want them to do, they won’t be interested in. Good luck and let me know how it all turns out.

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Common Sense and Fun Approaches to Teaching Basic Skills

by Rebecca Nagle

Snowplow 1, 2 & 3 or learn-to-skaters can be very playful with a creative coaching mind. As we all know, attention spans are very short and the best solution is to keep their feet moving and their minds off how tired they are becoming. Games such as Hokey Pokey incorporating snowplows and two foot hops are terrific exercises.

Group skating lessonsGather your group in a circle and begin singing “you push your right foot in, you push your right foot out…”, and let them shake their foot all about; end the verse with a two foot hop and you’re on to the other side! A full snowplow into the circle and back skating out completes the last verse of the song and you’ve just started developing their balance and snowplows as well as a lasting desire to come again next week.

Four and five year olds love to pretend so introduce silly ideas. Pretending to have animal parades by using forward and backward swizzles along with one foot glides keeps the class moving and imaginative. Koosh balls are a great trick for the extremely timid two, three or four year old skater. Toss the soft waterproof balls out of their reach and your little skaters will have fun trying to bend down and scoop them up. This is a great way to give your beginner students the confidence and falling practice they need.

Kids love stickers. Besides being used as a reward method, they can be used to demonstrate many a point to a basic skills skater. Place a sticker on the inside of their skate (usually the inside toe area) and tell them to squeeze the sticker when trying two foot glides (forward or backward). This works well with scullies also.

Other game suggestions that work well on the ice are Red Light, Green Light for forward or backward snowplows; Simon Says or singing “If you’re happy and you know it do a…” incorporating any basic skills move being learned. Remember, little people want to have fun yet need to learn.

Basic 1-6 levels or the non-jumpers, depending on your program structure, are the levels where skaters learn their basic turns, edges and crossovers-the vitals of skating! How to accomplish such a task and stay interesting requires a technically creative mind over silliness. Permanent markers, skateguards and the boards can be tools used to demonstrate.

Drawing with waterproof markers on the ice gives the children a very descript visual. A rocking horse is challenging to trace. Three or four small circles drawn for a group of ten gives the skaters the spacing they need (2-3 per circle) to practice an outside/inside edge, three turns or Mohawks.

While attempting backward one foot glides hold a skateguard in front of the torso in two hands. Have the skater think of bringing their knee up to the guard from the two foot glide position.

Another exercise that the kids enjoy is balancing a pencil or water bottle on your clipboard. Use this trick for outer swing rolls, forward edges or one foot glides. See who can go the farthest down the ice without spilling!

The boards are a terrific way to teach the bend and stretch feel of pumps. For example, have the group line up with their right side against the boards. Press right hip and ankle against the boards. Stretch right hand back and left in front. Have the Beginner skater bend their right knee over their skate while pressing their hip and ankle against the boards. Extend the left leg out to the side while bending. Repeat several times and then transfer to a circle. This should keep the skaters from doing scullies and produce real pumps instead.

Relay races incorporating two foot turns, hockey stops, t-stops, one foot glides, Mohawks and slaloms are a great way to end a group and develop strong skating.

Low level freestylers ready for spins and jumps can either be over anxious or timid in the beginning. Some commence Moves in the Field at this time and some a basic figure program. There are many creative teaching tricks at this level that can keep skating fun.

Balancing quarters on top of the hands, placing a mitten on top of the head or stickers on the palms of the hands help control those fly away arms or the leaning over of the upper torso.

Stickers again can be used for scratch spins. Place a sticker on the outer heel of the free toot in the spin. When bringing the free foot across on the scratch spin have the skater place the sticker on the outside part of the knee of the spinning leg and slide the sticker down the outside of the leg to the tight crossed position.

Airturns on the ice right from the start of the waltz jump or a half flip jump is a terrific way to get kids to lose their fear of leaving the ice (jumping). Start with simply rising up to the toes and down in conjunction with the proper arm positions. Have the group pair up and face each other while doing this. Then do a few two foot jumps with no turns. As the comfort and ability level increases so should the airturn. Begin to do a 1/2 turn with 8 repetitions and so on. A group of ten can accomplish this exercise easily.

When introducing a sit spin have each skater put a glove/mitten in the hand of the free side of the spin. After entry the skater will take the glove and place it between their knees and have the arms extend to the sides. They need to spin three times around holding the glove with their knees. They will be in a semi-sit position. This exercise is simply to have the skater understand the closing of the inner thighs and to not lean way over with their back in the spin. It is a very challenging exercise but once again great for a group of ten skaters learning sit spins.

Music, as we know, is very much a part of skating. Singing, humming or playing a variety of music can help develop rhythms or flow at this level. Back edges or the waltz eight to waltz music slows the child down and aids in the counting. Split jumps or flips to rap gets them motivated to jump high! Seasonal music once in a while, such as a scary tape at Halloween or holiday music, can uplift the attitude of a group class lesson.

At low level freestyle introduce the stopwatch which will be ever so present in their skating career. Time the skater going into their waltz-toe loop jump and have them beat their time the next skate around.

The advanced groups have fun with an introduction to hydro-blading. Use this to strengthen their muscles for the up and down motion of a sit spin or develop a better understanding of lean into the circle for crossovers, spirals or the tightening of an outer edge into a spin. Have the group challenge each other to see who can hydro blade the longest.

For additional ideas refer to the Creative Teaching Section in the PSA Coaches Manual.

Reprinted with premission from :

The Professional Skater Magazine
May / June 1997 – pp. 13 – 14.
©1997 by Professional Skaters Association

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Filed under Coaches Corner, Figure Skating Education, Ice Skating Coaching, Learn to Skate

Ice Skating Prodigy? You Be the Judge

Click the YouTube video link below to see Natalie, a 23 1/2 month old, skating at the Tampa Bay Skating Academy on June 23, 2011

http://e-junkie.tv/r.swf?id=19697

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Ask the Skating Pro: What is the difference between a Mohawk and a Choctaw?

Q. What is the difference between a Mohawk and a Choctaw?

A. When doing a Mohawk you remain on the same edge after the change of feet and continue to travel on the same circle after the change. When doing a Choctaw you change edge when changing feet. For example, if you go into the turn on the outside edge, you exit on the inside edge, and change lobe or circle when turning.

IceSkatingWorld.com

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Ice Skating Competition and Surviving the End of the World

By Katherine Ruch

Ice Skating really is a fascinating sport but it may take someone who is a glutton for punishment to keep at this craziness. If you had asked me a week ago what my stance on competitions was, I would have mumbled back something about how I was never going to let any of my students do a competition EVER again. Now that I am on the other side of the competition at my home rink, I’m feeling a little bit different about all of it. I prepared a handful of my students to do a competition last weekend and, for whatever reasons; the whole thing had yours truly a little unhinged.

Unlike the competition last year, I was NOT in charge of the whole thing which should have given me a huge sense of relief! This year I was still worried about it, just not in the same way. For starters, I’m not great at coming up with programs even though I realize that is a huge part of skating. Even though I used to want to be an actress and definitely have a thing for drama, I don’t always feel like I’m all that creative. I didn’t start skating till I was 17 so I’ve been much more apt to question everything about what I was trying to do before I ever even contemplated attempting it. I personally really love the technical side of skating, the mechanics of it all. In terms of programs, it terrified me that somehow my programs would fall flat or that may do an ill job of preparing my students for any of the host of things that can sometimes happen at a competition (I’m certainly glad the end of the world didn’t come as predicted for May 21, 2011, because I’m not sure even the best coach could prepare their students for that).

Even though I only had a few skaters competing that day, they were certainly varied. I had the Basic Skills kid who had been doing the same program for weeks, as well as the one who learned the elements the week before the competition. I had the adult who was totally up for doing the competition with few questions asked, as well as the one who took quite a bit of convincing. Somewhere along the way I had to realize that there is only so much you can do as a coach. When your student’s name is called and the music starts, it’s just them and the ice. Each and every one of my students who skated did a fantastic job and I am so incredibly proud of them!

The next day I passed the “moves” test that I have been working on for four years. It was truly a banner weekend! The weekend reminded me that I need to let my love of skating fuel my desire to coach instead of relying on fleeting success or gains because skating certainly has its ups and downs. I took a couple of bad falls this week but I am certainly not about to let that keep me from going to the rink tomorrow.

While I sit here and ice my knee, I may start looking for that next competition whether it’s for me or those kids. What a difference a week makes!

@IceSkatingWorld

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How old should my child be to start ice skating?

by Michelle Wilkin

Age four is best to start. There are some children who are ready at 3 years old. Consider the following criteria:

Attention Span – most group classes will last 30 minutes.

Separation from parent – Separation anxiety is still developmentally appropriate until approximately age four. If your child can be comfortable accepting instructions from another adult, then you should be fine.

Balance – both in skates and in regular shoes.

My recommendation is to start with your child walking in skates on the floor only. If this goes well, then your child is physically ready. Check with your local ice rink for age requirements. Many rinks will not accept children for group classes who are under 4 years of age. If your child is eager and can meet the basic criteria before he is 4 years old, you may consider private lessons.

They are more flexible with the length of lesson and can adapt to the age of the child. To ensure quality instruction, make sure to ask for a Professional Skater’s Association (PSA) rated instructor.

For more articles for skating parents, visit http://www.iceskatingworld.com/parents/letters_articles/index.html

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5 Ways to Make Better Progress this Season

by Marta Nilsen, PSA Master-rated coach

Here are five steps for improving your figure skating and making better progress during the upcoming season.

1) Add another day of skating to your week.

Adding another day of skating per week can speed up your progress dramatically. If you can’t add another day, the next best thing would be to add two more hours per week of skating time. Instead of skating one hour per day for two days per week, instead skate two hours per day, two days per week.

2) Take a ballet class at least one day per week.

Ballet increases flexibility, strengthens body alignment and placement, and teaches proper jumping technique. This is a great way to get that super spiral or increase your jump height.

3) Participate in off-ice classes at least one time per week.

Off-ice class is not just another workout. You will be practicing simulating skills that are done on the ice. Practicing off ice allows you to feel, see and understand the basic positions that your body must attain during skating moves. You will also learn exercises and stretches that can do at home.

4) Go to at least three competitions away from your home rink this season.

Competitions push you to increase your skill level faster than any other method of training. Striving to do your best in a competition helps you to reach the goals that you set for your skating.

5) Set goals.

You need a plan for where you are going and a process for how to get there. You decide where you would like to be, which you discuss with your coach, and then he or she makes a plan to help you reach it. All successful people set goals to help them reach their greatest potential.

Best of luck this ice skating season!

www.iceskatingworld.com

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You CAN Learn to Ice Skate

by Jassen Bowman

Having been raised in the era of figure skating superstars like Nancy Kerrigan, Michelle Kwan, and Todd Eldridge, I have been fascinated by this beautiful display of athletic prowess for nearly two decades. But, like many things in life, there comes a point where the fascination slips into a desire to do something more than just sit on the couch and watch these happenings on the moving picture box.

Being 30 years old and 50 pounds overweight, part of my brain was telling myself I was absolutely, positively nuts to even be thinking about doing this. Even that first time I stepped onto the ice, I was still telling myself that I was about to be involved in a major medical emergency involving multiple broken bones. Three months later, I am not only injury free, but actually making substantial progress.

So, how does one go about learning how to skate? Like anything else, you have to do your homework. It all begins with identifying a facility in your area that even has a sheet of ice. Most major metropolitan areas of the United States, Canada, and Europe have ice facilities of one form or another. Some ice rinks consist only of frozen lakes, while others offer multiple ice rinks within one large building, complete with locker rooms, concession stands, skate rental, and more. Finding a facility near you begins with a simple Google search or a trip through the phone book.

After identifying an appropriate facility, you must then actually contact the ice rink and inquire as to the availability of group classes or private instruction. Most ice rinks offer public skate sessions during which you can obtain one-on-one instruction from a member of the site staff. Many facilities in America also participate in either the U.S. Figure Skating Association or the Ice Skating Institute basic skating skills programs, which provide a structured course of instruction in either a group format or on an individual basis.

Most people will start with group lessons. The advantage of joining a class is that there is an organized curriculum to the entire process of learning how to ice skate, along with being with a group of people of your own skill level. The cost for group lessons is also significantly less than private instruction. It is common for classes to meet twice per week for about four to six weeks. These types of classes vary in cost depending on where you’re geographically located, but in the United States expect to pay between $60 and $100 for such a class. In addition, you will also likely have to rent skates from the facility you are taking lessons at. However, skate rental is generally very inexpensive, at only a few dollars per session.

If you’re looking to test the waters before jumping into a class, or simply desire the undivided attention of an instructor, then private lessons are a worthwhile option to consider. Meeting once or twice with a private instructor is a great way to get started, especially to help you determine whether or not ice skating is something that you will really enjoy and want to stick with as a hobby. Following private instruction with group classes can give you a head start on learning how to ice skate, especially if you take a private lesson on occasion during the course of being in a class. Private instruction is definitely more costly, but pays for itself in terms of the progress that you can make in your skating skills compared to a group environment. Expect to pay anywhere from $45 to $100 per hour for private instruction, with most lessons lasting about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your goals and pace.

Personally, my intention was to meet twice, and only twice, with a private instructor, and then maybe take a class, with the thought that doing that much would get the desire to skate out of my system. My primary interest in learning to skate was to have a wee bit of a clue about what it’s like to be on the ice, since I had already made the decision that the only way I could ever actively participate in the sport of figure skating was to be a judge. However, after those two private lessons, I was hooked on skating itself, and now my weekly lessons are a line item in my personal budget.

Ice skating is an addictive form of recreation. Learning to ice skate will provide you with a great sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment. Whether your interest is purely recreational in nature, or you have an interest in any of the related disciplines such as hockey, ice dancing, or figure skating, ice skating will provide you with a sense of pure elation, and will always provide you with additional challenges should you wish to explore them.

In my next article, I will offer insight into selecting an instructor for private coaching. This relationship is such an important one that it deserves careful consideration. I consider myself extremely fortunate that the “next available instructor” to whom I was assigned is such a talented coach and a good personality fit. However, one should not rely on blind luck or good fortune alone when picking an instructor, so be looking for that article coming soon.

Jassen Bowman is a tax consultant by profession, helping taxpayers obtain the tax relief to which they are legally entitled. Outside of work, his lifelong interest in the sport of figure skating has recently blossomed into an intense drive to learn to ice skate He can be found practicing three or four times per week at his local ice centre.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jassen_Bowman

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