Figure Skating for Parents – Understanding the Test Levels, Costs and the Life of a Figure Skating Family

Figure Skating for Parents – Understanding the Test Levels, Costs and the Life of a Figure Skating Family

Figure skating is a beautiful sport to watch, a difficult sport to learn and a complex support to compete in. Aside from all of that there is the social element of figure skating, which is surely no different than anything that involves high achieving kids and involved parents. If you are thinking of signing your child up for some figure skating lessons, there are some things to consider. Summer is a great time to start skating as there won’t be any crowds at the rink and there’s nothing better than an ice rink to cool you off in the middle of the summer.

Figure Skating For Parents

For young kids, group lessons are the way to start as they are relatively inexpensive, no different than dance lessons for example. In group lessons, the instructor will have a group of kids at the same level and teach them the basics of skating, which include going forwards, backwards, stopping and how to get up when you fall down. If your child is just standing there week after week, not moving, looking confused or terrified, don’t bother signing them up for the next section. Let another six months go by and take them back to the rink yourself and see how they do when it’s just with you. They may have no interest and/or they still might not have the coordination needed. Rushing a child in to this intense and difficult sport is a really bad idea. The child has to love it, be relatively good at it and see some chance at progress or success. So give them a chance to feel there way along.

If your child does well in group lessons, you will learn that the lessons are likely based on the International Skating Institute (ISI) learn to skate instruction and testing levels. This means, at the end of every 8 or 10 week group class, your child will be tested and then move to the next level or repeat the same class for another sequence. It isn’t unusual to repeat and it doesn’t mean you have the next Michelle Kwan in your house if they pass the levels from sequence to sequence. The first group of ISI levels are as follows; pre-Alpha, Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. Once Delta is completed and passed you move to the freestyle levels whih run from levels 1 through 10. By the time a child gets to FS 1, they are doing some basic jumps and spins. At a FS 10 level, they are double and triple jumps and very complex programs.

Figure Skating for Parents

Running parallel to ISI is the Unite States Figure Skating Association (USFSA). The USFSA also has basic skills program like ISI and the increasingly advanced levels of Pre-Preliminary, Preliminary, Pre-Juvenile, Juvenile, Intermediate, Novice, Junior and Senior. A skater who has passed FS 10 in ISI testing is comparable to a USFSA Senior. Senior level skaters are the skaters you see in the Olympics, though not all Seniors of course, make it to that competitive level.

Once a skater has moved through the basic levels and appears to have some interest and ability, the instructor is likely to recommend private lessons with a coach. For parents, this is where it all get very confusing, and very expensive. The coach may start with a weekly lesson but will quickly suggest that the child skate more than once a week and they don’t usually mean at a public skating session. A parent will likely be asked to schedule a weekly lesson, 2 or 3 practice sessions per week and then outfits, competitions, test session and better skates will quickly follow. This is a wonderful sport, but the budget is a huge consideration. Typically coaches will provide a half-hour lesson for $20-$40 dollars; ice time is $10-$20 an hour, plan for 4 competitions and 4 test session per year at $50-$100 each. In addition, you have to pay the coach to be present at both tests and competitions. Skates will cost between $300 and $600 and blades are generally extra. The weekly budget for skaters with one lesson and three ice sessions will be about $100 or $5200 per year. Add in everything else and the budget can jump to $7000 easily.

Figure skating provides an amazing outlet for both creativity and sport. It’s an individual sport, yet skaters generally join a club, which helps to organize events and ice time. Parents need to consider there own lifestyle and financial situation before making the decision to open the door to figure skating. For those children who get hooked on it early, it’s impossible to pull them away.

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