Beyond Class Lessons: Advanced Training in Private Lessons
The Bridge to Private Lessons
Once a skater has been in class lessons and has completed the requirements for passing Basic Skills Levels 1–8, he or she begins Freestyle 1–6. As the skater progresses to higher levels the maneuvers become more difficult. The skater should have more icetime to practice. Practice time is separated into Moves (edgework and turns) and Freestyle (jumps and spins).
Skaters do not need to have a coach or private lessons to sign up for practice ice contracts or walk on during the rink-sponsored contract ice times.
At any time during the Basic or Freestyle levels of the Learn to Skate program, skaters may choose to implement private lessons in addition or group lessons or to switch from group instruction entirely to one-on-one instruction with a coach. Parents of younger skaters should check with their rink’s skating director for rules about when the skaters are qualified to skate during contract icetimes.
The Avenues of Skating
Parents and young skaters often envision “going to the Olympics” (like Michelle Kwan or Todd Eldridge) as their goal in figure skating. But there are several channels or avenues of skating that young athletes can choose if or when they decide solo competitive skating is not for them.
The major avenues of figure skating are:
· Competitions, either solo or in pairs, ice dance couples, or teams
· Exhibitions, performing in ice shows and other short-term performances
· Testing, completing Moves, Freestyle, and/or Ice Dance testing levels
· Theatre on Ice, a growing avenue of skating featuring multilevel groups of skaters in costume and makeup performing routines together
· Ice Dance, completing test levels or preparing original dances in couples
· Synchronized Skating Teams, for groups of same-level skaters performing precision routines in competitions
When and How to Select a Coach and “Move to Privates”
If the skater enjoys skating and wants more challenge, parents may consider private lessons.
Following are reasons skaters report for “switching to privates”:
· Getting “stuck” on a particular move, spin, or jump and needing one-on-one work with a coach to master it
· Repeating the same level of group class more than twice and growing frustrated/discouraged
· Wanting to devote more time to the sport or needing to skate at times when no group lessons are scheduled
· Needing more room on the ice than is available in group sessions to practice moves or freestyle elements
Private lessons range from 20 minutes for younger or less-experienced skaters (beginning at about Basic 4) to an hour of one-on-one learning with a coach. The lesson is given at the Moves and Freestyle practice time. Skaters’ families purchase one or more units of contract icetime through the Crystal Ice House. Parents begin this procedure in one of three ways:
· Talking to a group lesson teacher, perhaps one the skater learned the most from in class lessons.
· Asking the rink office or the rink skating director to suggest coaches listed with the rink.
· Visiting a few contract ice hours and observing the coaches and their students, checking whether the type of instruction (moves, freestyle, ice dancing, competitive skating) and the coach’s approach are a good fit for this skater.
Coaches charge upward from $20 for a 30-minute lesson.
Planning Lessons with the Coach
After the skater and parent select the coach, the skater will work with him or her and the rink to purchase icetime when lessons will be taken. Additional practice time is also purchased in this way and can be on an as-needed basis by paying for walk-on skating time with the rink office. After the coach and skater have been together for some time, the coach may recommend that the skater begin other types of training to complement the main coach’s instruction. Figure skaters benefit from these other fitness/artistic activities:
· Ballet classes, particularly those tailored to skaters’ needs
· Pilates core strength-building classes
· Off-ice conditioning classes for skaters taught by physical trainers specializing in skaters’ needs
The skater’s primary coach may also suggest special sessions for advancing skaters to be taught by other coaches experienced in:
· Choreography for freestyle programs
· Power training