Monday, February 8, 2010

How Much Figure Skating Ice Time Is too Much?

Note from Ice Mom: As always, the readers of this blog have left terrific comments. The Updates below contain snippets from those comments. Check out the full comments section for the readers' generous sharing of experience and wisdom. Please share your own experiences, too! Thank you, readers!

Please see below for a thank-you from Cathy for all of your comments.

Cathy, who is a new ice mom, sent me this question:

My daughter (9 years old) has been taking private lessons for only a few months. We have been informed by our coach that she will need to practice at a minimum 4-5 days per week, 6 being optimum. Since I work fulltime, the only time I can get her to the ice is a 6 a.m. She would then leave to go directly to school - eating breakfast in the car. My daughter seems willing, but I feel as though it is too much to ask of a 9-year-old. What comments do you or your readers have about my concern? Has anyone done this with a young child and has advice?

I want her to advance and become accomplished in the sport, but we have modest ambitions overall - no desire to raise a national champion. However, sometimes it seems that there is no middle ground to be had in figure skating. It's an all or nothing commitment.

Here’s what Ice Mom’s Advisory Board has to say:

C.L.: This is really the dilemma in our sport. Where is the middle ground? If national skating is not the goal, is it necessary to skate six days a week? Maybe if your child wants to be the best at his or her current level, it is. Natural talent does go a long way, too. I've seen a lot of wonderful skaters that skate two times a week for a couple of hours.

Each family and child is different. My daughter would never survive 6:00 a.m. ice on a daily basis (neither would I), but then again I know some of our members whose kids are early birds and probably wouldn't have any issues with that. I do think that's a lot to ask of a nine-year-old if you’re not planning on being serious regional/sectional/national competitors. Some coaches only want the best of the best...those skaters and parents who are willing to sacrifice sleep, money, and time. Other coaches are more flexible...allowing for a slower progression. As with any sport...the more time you spend doing it the better you get, but that doesn't mean someone who spends less time still won't be better than you

Ice Coach: Bottom line: if that’s the coach’s standards and the family isn't ready for that commitment yet, find a different coach with values/goals that match your skater’s. That’s really the only option here in my opinion.

kel: Different coaches have different requirements of ice time. When we started with our coach (my daughter was 7), she skated two hours a week -- one during her private lesson, and one hour during Learn to Skate. Now that she is 9, she skates maybe 3 hours a week. I'm aware of other coaches that require their skaters to skate 10 hours a week (twenty during the summer). Certainly, other skaters have progressed more quickly than she, but she's happy with how she's doing as am I. So, I think this is a matter of different coaches have different requirements -- this of course results in different speed in a skater's progression.

As far as 6am ice goes, I'm a fan. Gets it out of the way early in the day -- as long as your daughter is an early bird. We did 6am skates for a while and I felt that it was better for my daughter than later evening skates, when she was just too tired.

Xan of Xanboni!: Crazy, I literally JUST put up a post about this, in response to a reader request. It's the latest post, but it also refers to this one: http://xan-boni.blogspot.com/2009/10/yes-please-practice-why-are-we-even.html about how to judge amount of practice needed.

More specifically, if this girl has been skating "a few months" she cannot possibly be any further along than low freestyle and that's a stretch unless the coach has been "cutting" her up. Nine years old is a little young to handle early morning ice on her own, but not unheard of. If she is planning to go after a high-level competitive career, then sure, 4-6 days a week is not unreasonable. But it's hard to see them having made that judgment this early on.

Really need more information, including skating level, whether the coach is proposing just practice or additional lessons, and whether the girl is also taking classes. If the child is willing to do this and follows through without complaining (much), the family can afford it, and the skater seems happy and progressing, it's not completely out of line.

HOWEVER, my initial reaction was that this family is heading for burnout. They need to build it more slowly.

S.F.: How many private lessons per week is this mom paying for? My daughter's coach prefers an equal amount of practice to lesson time. (ie 30 min lesson 30 minutes practice) At this time with synchro, homework and school activities we aren't doing a lot of practice. Just lessons.

I can say that when my daughter doesn't put in the practice time in to go with the lessons it takes twice as long for her to achieve her goal.

Mom, skater and coach need to reach a happy medium. Mom and skater also need to decide how big a commitment/investment that they want to make.

I think that skating is something that is very individual and the level of commitment is the based on the desires of the skater and the parent willing to put the time and money in to the lessons and practice. If the Mom doesn't want do the high level of commitment that the coach wants then she will need to tell that coach that we are not ready for that type of commitment.

Ice Mom: Ice Girl skates three times a week at 6 a.m. and I won't lie to you: it's hard. She eats breakfast in the van and dresses in the van, too. Ice Girl started this nonsense when she was 12 and it's been almost 2 years that we've been doing it. I, too, have this whole work thing I do during the day and sometimes it's challenging for me to get Ice Girl to the rink, especially during the summer when the only ice is from 8 a.m. - 11 a.m. Really. Do these people work? For us, it takes a lot of networking and car pooling to pull it off.

Pros:
  • You get practice over with and have your nights free (well, until 8 p.m. when you go to bed)
  • Ice Girl says she's wide awake for school and can concentrate better
  • The ice is usually not as packed as afternoon sessions, which makes it less stressful for a new skater.
  • It fits in a work schedule.

Cons:
  • It's 6 a.m.!
  • Possible zombie kid and parent
  • Wrestling with bed times

I think your coach is telling you that your daughter needs to practice so often so that the skills she's learning will stick with her and she'll advance. Really, it's a good use of your money to have a fresh lesson every time your daughter sees her coach rather than reviewing the same stuff over and over.

However, kids, especially young kids, have trouble focusing during practice ice and often skate aimlessly around for an hour without much focus. Having more lessons with the coach ensures that your daughter is using that expensive ice time well and improving her skills.

What really struck me when I read your e-mail was that your coach is insisting on this number of hours. Perhaps your coach isn't a good fit for your daughter's goals. Does the coach know that your daughter wants to be more laid back in her training? You might want to have that conversation with her. If she doesn't accept your daughter's goals, you might ask her to recommend a coach that would be a better match. You don't want to pay a lot of money for ice and lessons you don't want, and you don't want your daughter and coach to become frustrated with one another because one's pushing and the other is resisting.

Update: This is from Cathy, the ice mom who posed the question for this post. She e-mailed me this thank-you that I want to share with you:

I'd like to express my appreciation to you, your advisory board and readers.

Thank you all for generously sharing your experiences, what a pleasure it was to read your comments! When we first began figure skating we were presented with a well intentioned but very serious  approach to the sport. It was all so intimidating. Although my daughter loved to skate, the pressure to practice and master new skills was draining the fun out it. Often on the way home from the rink I  ould wonder if we had what it takes to pursue figure skating. I agree with Xan that we were heading for a burnout.

To read about the different ways others have been able to successfully weave figure skating into their lives has been a revelation. I especially enjoyed the perspective from the young skaters. So much of what was said rang true. It¹s not all or nothing ­ there is a middle ground if we choose to stake it out. I now feel confident that we can meet our goals and make a plan for our daughter that is sustainable, and most importantly - more enjoyable!

Thanks again to all your readers for such great advice!
 

Update: From reader Anonymous: My IG has been skating in a learn to skate program since age 3. [...] At age 9 we now average 4 hours per week. [...] We entered our first competition this past weekend. She can't wait till her next one!! Had I pushed her faster sooner she may not love the sport as much as she does now.

Update: From reader Helicopter Mom: [...] my daughter has been skating for 4 years! I think if they told me I needed to get her there at 6 am when she'd only been in private lessons for a couple of months, I would have lost my mind! I KNOW she wouldn't still be skating now.

Update: From reader Alice in Wonderland: Every session I check in with her (want to skate more/less/same) and she lets me know! We're being supportive, and at times I think I'm crazy, but when I watch her I see the joy she has when she's skating on her own and trying that "stupid axel"

Update: From reader Anonymous: Our coach is a very high level coach. She takes skaters to Jr. Nationals and Nationals just about every year. But when I ask her about amount of time to practice at first. She said" just let her have fun." If your skater is having fun out there, she will ask for more. If she really wants to learn new skills, she will ask for more. Then it's up to you and your checking account to make the finial decision on what's too much.

Update: From reader Anonymous (this whole comment is fabulous): My daughter has been skating the "early shift" for thirteen years. I actually found it was easier to keep to this schedule when we did it every day (but Sunday), because we were able to adapt better when bedtimes were consistent throughout the week. My daughter was/is a competitor and (almost) never complains about the early hours.

Update: From reader Jozet at Halushki:  Here's my advice: talk to your skater and first figure out what her goals are and then start breaking it down - a year goal, a monthly goal, a goal for the week, a goal for each lesson/practice. Then start with the amount of ice time that makes you all the least crazy and see if it's a good match for your daily and weekly goals. Give it a month or so. If your skater is chomping at the bit or hitting a plateau, add an ice session. If your skater is doing well and achieving her daily/weekly goals, stick with what you're doing.

Update: From reader Rosalie: As to the age concern, I think what is and what is not right for a skater has less to do with their actual age and more to do with their maturity level. If a skater can handle so much practice and early ice time, it can give them good life skills in the future, such as sticking to a routine, setting goals, and learning how to manage themselves, which a skater who only has lessons won't learn. However, if it only stresses your skater out, you see a decline in their grades or happiness, or they start to lose sight of their priorities, it might be too much too soon.

Update: Excellent and detailed training information from reader Season. This entire comment is worth a good read. However, here's an exerpt from the very end: I hope this helps explain why a choach asks a skater to skate 4-5 days a week. The coach knows and understands the amount of skills they will be required to teach your skater to compete sucessfully and they what to make sure your skater has enough practice time to help the coach move quickly through the skills being taught and to give your skater confidence when they are competing.

Update: Wise advice from Anonymous who has seen meltdowns: I think schedule-wise you HAVE to do what's best for your kid and not go overboard for where there are with their skating.  Years ago, we also had an "ice friend" that was, at the age of 7 (and skating at Basic 8 moving to low beginner freestyle level), skating every day before school, 3 days a week after school and 2-3 hours each on Sat and Sun. And she had 4 coaches because that was the only way to get that many lessons. That was one very unhappy child and her mom just couldn't figure out why her skater couldn't stay focused on the ice!

Update: Excellent advice from reader Season about coaches, synchro, and dance: I will say again I do highly recommend having all skaters that are working on Basic Skills through Intermediate MIF work with an ID coach and learn ID because it will help your skater progress through their MIF faster and they will have more confidence and be able to present their FS programs with grace and extention.

I also would recommend lower level (Basic Skills through Juvenile FS)skaters to try synchronized skating for at least 1 year because it will make them a stronger skater and a faster skater. They are required as part of being on a team to do their best to skate up to the level of all the skaters on the team. If you have a skater that is a weak skater and you want them to become stronger, faster, and progress faster then have them join a synchronized skating team for at least 1 year. When they progress to Juvenile level (qualifying level) or higher and they want to focus on one skating discipline then you would want to encourage your skater to choose which discipline of skating they want to focus on.
How much figure skating ice do you think is too much? Is there such a thing as too early or too young? Do you have advice for this mom?

Do you have a question for Ice Mom and the Advisory Board? Do you have a guest post you'd like to share? E-mail Ice Mom: icemom.diane@gmail.com

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

My IG has been skating in a learn to skate program since age 3. Throughout the years we have averaged between 2/3 hours per week with the 1/2 hour lesson and the rest practice time.

At age 9 we now average 4 hours per week. 1/2 hour with ice coach, 1/2 hour basic skills freestyle 1&2 lesson, 1 hour syncro practice and the rest practice on own.

We entered our first competition this past weekend. She can't wait till her next one!! Had I pushed her faster sooner she may not love the sport as much as she does now. My opinion is that you should learn to love your sport. I know she does. Sports give you life long lessons in commitment, perserverance, dedication, and organization, and team play.

Every child is different. Her best friend 9 years old passed her Senior Moves in the Field this year. She skates 6 hours + per week and loves it too. We have the same Ice Coach and she taylors the programs accordingly.

If you have to question if 6 hours is a good thing for your daughter than maybe it isn't. I would think about what your goals are and base the time on that and then have a heart to heart with Ice Coach about the goals.

MoasMom said...

My Icegirl is 7 1/2 and we are in NYC. She skates with a skating program 3 times a week plus one extra day of private lessons that's about 6/7 hours a week. I have to say that I’m trying to go on the ride with her; but, it’s overwhelming financially and time wise. But, when an extra day of skating is added it is discussed and school work comes first. As far as summer, right now, I think she needs other experiences so we will probably only do skating intensively for 2 weeks in camp and recreation once or twice a week if she wants to.

Yes, I’m on my daughter’s ride but since I’m paying and I’m the Mom, I have to measure what is too much. My daughter loves skating and the joke is she always saying, “Skating is my life. “ But, there’s time. This is her second year; but, she’s now skating on a Delta level looking to take that test in March so she can be on Freestyle 1. She only skated 2 times a week last year and to me that’s a lot of progress and took a break part of the summer. This year is more intensive because of her passion and desire. My thought is, if this coach is pushing this much this fast; I would consider finding a new coach. I know coaches can be intimidating especially when you don’t know the sport, like me; but, I have to try to get advice from people like Ice Mom, the Moms at the rink, books and blogs.

Finally, 6 AM is early and if your daughter’s not a morning person it will be hard. We do the reverse and it’s challenging. My daughter eats dinner, dresses and does homework in the car. So I feel sometimes this is a lifestyle.

Good Luck,
MoasMom

Helicopter Mom said...

Wow. This is a tough one. Like Xan, I would be concerned about burn out. Luckily, I can take my daughter to the rink in the afternoons so she hasn't had to skate before school yet, but I do realize it's only a matter of time. However, my daughter has been skating for 4 years! I think if they told me I needed to get her there at 6 am when she'd only been in private lessons for a couple of months, I would have lost my mind! I KNOW she wouldn't still be skating now. Maybe that coach is trying to "catch her up" or something - I can't see why a new skater would need 6 practices a week, unless they were having 6 lessons a week! My daughter skates 4 days a week, with two lessons a week (which is A LOT less than many of her friends) but she has been progressing very well because she doesn't waste her time out there. I know it can seem like there's no middle ground, but there is. There is middle ground when a parent finds it and stands up for it. Like the previous discussion about schoolwork and skating - each family has their priorities and the coaches need to understand that. We have families at our rink who homeschool and skate every day. And there are others who fit skating in around dozens of other activities. Most of the rest fall somewhere in the middle. I always feel like "how to skate" is the coach's domain and "how much to skate" is between the skater and the parent who does the driving, with appropriate input from the coach. I don't think there is a coach in the world who wouldn't want their skaters to skate 6 days a week as long as they are really practicing! But I feel very lucky that we found a coach who respects our needs as a family, regarding both time and money! Hopefully your reader and the coach can come up with some kind of compromise or maybe it is best to find another coach. OR maybe she can go ahead and try the 6 am skating with the understanding that if it's too disruptive, you'll stop and figure something else out.

Alice in Wonderland said...

Rinkhead is 8, has been skating 1.5years, and skates 7 hours a week, with yoga, ballet and an hour of off-ice conditioning. We started with group lessons 2008 -1x a week in Fall, 2X in Winter, and then in the spring she started privates for 30 minutes (that's when I went down the rabbit hole). She just wanted more. So, I signed her up for a suummercamp 2009 in the AM M-F, and her Saturday group lessons, and at the end of the summer I expected her to burn out. She didn't. (Drat!) Local schools shifted the start time to 9:00, so we started mornings in Fall 2009. While I think of her as middle of the road semi-competitive skater who will learn discipline and the joy of doing "her best", she definitely aspires to more. Every session I check in with her (want to skate more/less/same) and she lets me know! We're being supportive, and at times I think I'm crazy, but when I watch her I see the joy she has when she's skating on her own and trying that "stupid axel"

Anonymous said...

My daughter,10, has been skating for 1.5 years. When she first started, she will go to her Sat morning group class and then stayed for public skate for 1-2 hour. She started to work with her coach early last year so we added another 30 min practice time after 30 min of lesson per week. We did that all the way until she moved up for freestyle last summer.
Now she has all her single jumps and is working on her axel. We go to rink 3-4x per week for about total of 5 to 6 hours. So far this is working well for her. She has 2 30 min lessons with coach each week and 2 group lessons then practice time. There are skaters taking as much as 6 private lessons per week with different coaches. It really dependence on how well is your skater able to practice on her own. My skater also know well that we, the parents, will support her as much as we can only if she, the skater, does her practice well.
As for early morning one. We have 45 min drive each way to the closest ice rink. The earliest one so far is 7AM. It's hard to be up and ready by 5:45. But so far my skater has no complain and she know early morning means empty ice. Sometime, that's the only open coach has. Then works with your coach and request to change it as soon she has other open time.
Our coach is a very high level coach. She takes skaters to Jr. national and National just about every year. But when I ask her about amount of time to practice at first. She said" just let her to have fun." If your skater is having fun out there, she will ask for more. If she really want to learn new skills, she will ask for more. Then it's up to you and your checking account to make the finial decision on what's too much.

Anonymous said...

My daughter has been skating the "early shift" for thirteen years. I actually found it was easier to keep to this schedule when we did it every day (but Sunday), because we were able to adapt better when bedtimes were consistent throughout the week. My daughter was/is a competitor and (almost) never complains about the early hours.

I do think it can be difficult to find a middle ground in this sport, especially if your athlete has any competitive fire. At competitions, it can become very obvious when a child is not keeping up with their age-mates.

That is still not a good reason to spend time and money if becoming a champion is not your goal. Just set more realistic goals for the amount of commitment you are willing to make and don't fall into the trap of trying to keep up with other skaters who may be putting much more time in. Most competitive skaters are doing much more training than you will even realize. Most parents in this sport are not as open as Ice Mom and the other generous contributors to this blog and do not readily volunteer information.

Moves, freestyle, and dance test levels, test track competitions, showcase competitions, ice theater, and synchronized skating are all avenues that can create satisfying goals for your skater. Keep the fun and joy in skating, for you and your child!

Jozet at Halushki said...

My creds: 11 year old figure skater now at pre-pre competitive level working on double toe, skating since 6 years old. We took things verrrrry slowly. We went from one LTS, to two LTS per week over the course of a year to then working with a coach for a 15 minute class once a week.

My daughter didn't really have the "drive" or discipline at a young age to skate more or really be actively coached. It was a real balance between keeping it fun and doing the work, and to be honest, most weeks it still is.

Here's my advice: talk to your skater and first figure out what her goals are and then start breaking it down - a year goal, a monthly goal, a goal for the week, a goal for each lesson/practice. Then start with the amount of ice time that makes you all the least crazy and see if it's a good match for your daily and weekly goals. Give it a month or so. If your skater is chomping at the bit or hitting a plateau, add an ice session. If your skater is doing well and achieving her daily/weekly goals, stick with what you're doing.

My skater is a non-morning person. However, after about 2 weeks of a new schedule that got her on the ice in the AM, she's good most days. (I also noticed the bonus of her being more awake and focused for school after a morning workout.)

Our schedule now is
Monday AM and PM ice
Tuesday AM ice; PM conditioning class
Wed AM and PM ice
Thursday, sleep in, conditioning class in PM
Friday AM ice
Saturday and/or Sunday one hour of public ice to practice the boring stuff (skating standing up instead of slouching, etc.) and we bring a friend along to keep it fun.

I found we really needed to up ice time once she started working on axel; it was easy to lose if not on the ice a day or two. Also, you can experiment with a competition or two as times when more skating is needed and see how it goes as a short term goal to skate more and for a concrete reason: competition.

Just remember, it's a process. The point isn't just to skate, but to learn about oneself, gain discipline, push comfort zones through sports. You'll push a bit here, pull back a bit there. You might learn that Monday mornings are better to sleep in, but that two sessions on Wednesday are a good way to tackle mid-week blahs. Your skater will learn about nutrition and how to pack a solid breakfast as well as how to pack a skate bag and be responsible for remembering to put in extra gloves.

Our biggest bonus is that with three kids, mornings are my time with my daughter to chat in the car, give her my attention.

You decide what you want, then find a coach that will work with you. If your daughter is willing to do this, then I say do it, but to step in slowly and add sessions instead of doing too much and getting frustrated or burned out.

Jozet at Halushki said...

"Moves, freestyle, and dance test levels, test track competitions, showcase competitions, ice theater, and synchronized skating are all avenues that can create satisfying goals for your skater."

Well said! Just testing is fun and a great goal. And theater on ice is getting really big around here as is synchro and dance. All great ways to keep skating a lifelong sport.

Vlad said...

Thank you for so nice themes!

Rosalie said...

How much ice time a skater takes really depends on what their goals are and what will keep them happy. I think that it is best to start low and then work your way up. I started off skating about two hours a week, but that wasn't enough for me, so I slowly added more until I found an amount of time that worked for me. Set out your goals and set out your skater's goals, and find ways to reach a happy medium. My parents couldn't take me at six in the morning, and wouldn't take me every day, so I went with friends or participated in ice skating camps when I didn't have school. (Some YMCA camps have skating camps that children can participate in, where they provide transport, group lessons, and ice times for the skaters, as well as supervision before, during, and after as required.) I spend a lot of time on public ice, too. The ice isn't as good as freestyle, but it is cheaper and allows for more flexibility, especially if you get an annual pass. I can get off when I want to and get back on when I feel like. If I start to get tired, I can say "That's enough for today. I'll take tomorrow off and come back the next day" and it doesn't cost me anything extra. I would always bring something else to do, like homework or a book to read, so that I could do something productive while I waited for my ride back if I got off early.

As to the age concern, I think what is and what is not right for a skater has less to do with their actual age and more to do with their maturity level. If a skater can handle so much practice and early ice time, it can give them good life skills in the future, such as sticking to a routine, setting goals, and learning how to manage themselves, which a skater who only has lessons won't learn. However, if it only stresses your skater out, you see a decline in their grades or happiness, or they start to lose sight of their priorities, it might be too much too soon.

Jessie said...

Ice Mom, as a figure skater myself, i wake up at 5:30 a.m. for friday practices, which are at 6:30. I usually go twice a week, one at 7 and one at 630. I work part time, and go to school full time. By 9 a.m. if i don't get enough sleep the night before, i am ready to crash and sleep again. I love to skate, it's fun, i go as much as i can, if i was able to skate for 3 hours a day, i would love to. But i can't. I don't have that kind of money. If Ice Girl loves it that much, than let her do it. I read that article, "skating around for an hour aimlessly", i say, let her do it. She's not an olympian, though who knows what her future holds, it's for fun. Maybe compromise with ice girl.

Last year, i had 2 1/2 hour practices with my coach, and and 2 hours for Synchro. Then i would practice for an half hour b4 lessons with my coach and a half hour after, so i was averaging about 6-8 hours a week.

For example: Their is a little girl called, 'mary' at my ice rink. She is about 8 or 7 and she skates for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the after noon, every day. So she skates about 20 hours a week, and she loves it. But i see her crying, from too much stress. so 4 hours isn't that much.

If Ice Girl does good, and she loves it, and her grades in school are good, then i say let her skate to her hearts content. It's good excercise and she loves it.

I do suggest taking a break every now and then from it, you don't want to her stressing to much. I say small break, like go one week without lessons, and just skate for fun. It's all up to u Ice Mom.

Anonymous said...

Ice time I feel should be based on the skaters goals and should be negotiated with the coach and parent.

If the skater is working on very difficult skills like an axel or double and triple jumps than the skater will need at very bare minimum 10 hours of ice time a week to practice these jumps enough times for the skaters body to develop the muscle memory necessary to consistenly land these skills with confidense and proper execution. The skater at this level also needs additional ice time to the 10 hours, to work on spins, choreography, moves in the field, and lesson time.

I also agree that if you are having more than 1 lesson a week you need to practice more hours a week. The skater should have at least 1-2 practice sessions for every 1/2 hour of lesson time. This will allow your skater to efficiently practice the skills they are learning before they have their next lesson so that they are prepared to present the skills learned in the previous lesson. For example, a good 1/2 hour lesson should consist of 10 mins fine tuning skills that are becoming confident, 10 mins teaching new skills and 10 mins of the coach watching your skater perform the new skills so that the coach can provide further instruction on the new skills that were taught during the lesson.
If a coach has to spend more than 10 mins fine toning skills that have already been taught in a previous lesson it is apparent to the coach that the skater is not getting enough practice and it starts to get very frustrating for everyone. Eventually if you have too many lessons that require too much time reteaching previously taught skills the coach will be asking the parents to get more practice time for the skater.

If the skater is working on single jumps lower than the axel than you can get away with less practice ice time and lesson time.

Here is an example of my daughters ice time progression. My daughter when she was 4 years old she had 1 (1/2 hour) lesson per week and she would practice 2 days a week for 50 mins and she was taking 1 basic skills class per week. (She was working on basic skills and 1/2 rotation jumps, 1 spin (scratch), 1choreographed competiton program. When she was 6 years old she had 3 (1/2 hour) lessons per week 2 (lessons with primary coach and 1 ice dancing lesson) and practiced 4-5 days a week for 1(50 min) and 1 (20 min) session per day, and she was working on all of her single jumps, moves in the field, 2 choreographed competition programs, 4 spins (scratch, sit, camel, attitude)and ice dancing. She was also on a synchronized skating team that practiced 1 day a week. When she was 8 she had 3 1/2 hour lessons per week (2 lessons with her main choach and 1 lesson per week with a choreography coach) and practiced 6 days a week for 2(50 min) sessions per day, she was working on all her single jumps including the axel and 2 double jumps, 3 choreographed competition programs, all her spins and 2 flying spins, and moves in the field. As you can see as my daughter got older and she had more skating skills to practice and therefore needed more practice time to allow her the time she need while on the ice to practice all the skills that she was working toward accomplishing. The skills that I have layed out in this description are very typical skills your skater will be working on while they are in a lesson and during practice. The only thing your skater may not be working on is ice dancing. I do recommend new skaters to taking some ice dancing lessons if it is possible because it will help with their edge quality and their presentation skills.
I hope this helps explain why a choach asks a skater to skate 4-5 days a week. The coach knows and understands the amount of skills they will be required to teach your skater to compete sucessfully and they what to make sure your skater has enough practice time to help the coach move quickly through the skills being taught and to give your skater confidence when they are competing. Thank you, Season Williams (mom of a skater for 12 years)

Anonymous said...

My daughter started learn to skate when she was 3 (she's 11 now). We started with classes once a week and gradually moved to twice a week. When she was 7, one of the coaches approached us about private lessons but the only time she had was at 7:30 pm. That made keeping an 8pm (or even 8:30) bedtime impossible! She was only in 2nd grade and her father and I decided that was pretty unreasonable to keep her up late in order to skate and then she'd be completely wiped out at school the next day. We waited until a coach (with better sense) was available and then, over the last few years, have slowly added lessons and hours as my skater and her coach have agreed. We discovered that the early ice really works well for her!

I think schedule-wise you HAVE to do what's best for your kid and not go overboard for where there are with their skating.

Years ago, we also had an "ice friend" that was, at the age of 7 (and skating at Basic 8 moving to low beginner freestyle level), skating every day before school, 3 days a week after school and 2-3 hours each on Sat and Sun. And she had 4 coaches because that was the only way to get that many lessons. That was one very unhappy child and her mom just couldn't figure out why her skater couldn't stay focused on the ice!

Anonymous said...

siFYI...There is such a thing as too many coaches....If your skater has too many coaches this can cause great confusion to the skater.
More practice time is better than more coaching time.

I can understand having more than one coach for various disciplines in skating. For example, Freestyle FS coach (1), Ice dance ID coach (2), Moves-in-the-Field (MIF)coach (3), Choreographer (4), Pairs FS coach (5), Synchronized Team coach (6).

This many coaches would only be necessary if your FS coach is not confident enough to coach the other skating skills. Most FS coaches should be able to coach your skater in FS, MIF, and Choreography from Basic skills level through Juvenile FS and Intermediate MIF level.

The higher level MIF (Novice through Senior) should be taught by a master rated MIF skating coach because they are very difficult and you want to make sure that your skater is performing these skills very precisely. If you have a FS coach that is not able to teach at least MIF and FS from Basic skills through Juvenile FS and Intermediate MIF level than I feel that you need to find a more experienced coach. This coach may not be skilled enough to give your skater a good foundation in skating.

Your skater would only need the additional coaches if they wanted to skate in the other disciplines of skating and not just FS.

I will say again I do highly recommend having all skaters that are working on Basic Skills through Intermediate MIF work with an ID coach and learn ID because it will help your skater progress through their MIF faster and they will have more confidence and be able to present their FS programs with grace and extention.

I also would recommend lower level (Basic Skills through Juvenile FS)skaters to try synchronized skating for at least 1 year because it will make them a stronger skater and a faster skater. They are required as part of being on a team to do their best to skate up to the level of all the skaters on the team. If you have a skater that is a weak skater and you want them to become stronger, faster, and progress faster then have them join a synchronized skating team for at least 1 year. When they progress to Juvenile level (qualifying level) or higher and they want to focus on one skating discipline then you would want to encourage your skater to choose which discipline of skating they want to focus on.
I hope this helps parents with picking a coach and with deciding how much ice time your child needs for practice. Thank you, Season

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