Greetings, directors! Congratulations and thank you for leading a U.S. Figure Skating Basic Skills program. Whether you are a new director establishing a program or an experienced director looking for growth and improvement tips, this resource is for you. A successful Basic Skills program requires a great deal of planning and organization. As the skating director, you are the key to the program's success. Here you will find general information about the U.S. Figure Skating Basic Skills Program, essential building blocks for a successful program, a variety of articles and a resources page with all of the necessary manuals, forms, support materials and additional information. If you have any questions regarding setting up or administering your Basic Skills Program, please contact us.
There are four critical components to running a high-quality, successful Basic Skills program. These are all interrelated, but without focus on each individual component, the whole package will not be complete. These components include:
- 1. Instructional staff
3. Education of skaters, parents and staff
4. Customer service
For more information on hosting a Basic Skills performance or competition, visit the Basic Skills Resources page and scroll down to "Basic Skills Performance Approvals" or visit the Basic Skills Competitions page.
Please review the Basic Skills Administration Manual and the related articles in the Resources box to learn more. Also, visit our Growing Skating Programs and Ideas page for strategies on how to attract new members and retain current ones.
If you'd like to request an administration packet, please email Basic Skills Specialist Cindy Pacheco. This packet includes important information to assist you in the set-up and organization of your program. There is a one time set-up fee of $50 to register new programs. Fill out the program registration form (DOC) and mail or fax it to Headquarters to formally register your skating school as a member. Once received, the Member Services Department will first make sure the skating school's name is not already being used by an existing club or school. If the name you have chosen is already taken, you will be contacted to choose another name for your program. Member Services will then assign a membership number to your school and send you a Kick-Off packet. Your Kick-off packet will include everything you need to get your program started.
Once your program is registered, it is protected by third-party liability coverage. This policy (PDF) covers all scheduled Basic Skills events including group lessons, exhibitions, recitals and Basic Skills competitions. A certificate of coverage will be requested on behalf of the skating school and sent to the skating school director.
The cost is $12 per participant per year and must be collected by the skating school. Completed membership registration forms and a transmittal form must be sent to U.S. Figure Skating along with one check in the amount of the total number of membership forms multiplied by $12. For each current registered member, a $2,500 deductible Sports Accident Insurance policy (PDF) is available for injuries sustained as a result of skating-related accidents. It is mandatory that each skating school register all of its skating participants as members of the Basic Skills Program, as only current registered members are insured.
The Basic Skills membership year is July 1-June 30. Each participant, including students, instructors and directors, must submit a membership registration form each membership year.
All registered Basic Skills students will receive a record book with stickers to keep track of the levels they complete, a member patch, a year patch, information about skating, Sports Accident Insurance coverage and the opportunity to participate in group lessons, exhibitions, ice shows and Basic Skills competitions.
All registered Basic Skills instructors and directors will receive an instructor's manual that lists each level along with each level's requirements, an instructor's patch, a member patch, a year patch, Sports Accident Insurance coverage and the opportunity to purchase additional affordable liability coverage for coaching activities.
It is important that membership registration forms be sent to Headquarters within the first week of registration to allow for processing and mailing time. Processing time is usually two weeks if mailed. For online registrations (PDF), the processing time is usually two to three days after receipt of registrations.
Each program director has been assigned a specific committee member to help create a successful program. The program directors initiate contact with the committee members, with whom they share information about their particular program. This helps the mentor concentrate on the specific needs of the program to which he or she has been assigned.
Ideas to share include:
- Marketing concepts
- Registration procedures
- Class sizes and instructor ratios
- Effective communication strategies, including web sites
- The "how to" of growing programs and retaining students
- Secrets of starting team skating
- Hosting special events
- Creating a Buddy system with older, and more advanced, skaters
- Bridging from group lessons into private lessons, and then into U.S. Figure Skating testing programs
- Information about local skating clubs
- Hosting Basic Skills competitions
- Program evaluation methods
The list is limitless! The more creative minds work together, the more people benefit from their creativity.
There are many issues to consider when you organize your program. It is important to write a business plan, a mission statement, speak with an accountant (if you are privately owned), do a market analysis and consult other established Basic Skills programs for advice.
A few organizational questions to consider:
- Who is going to administer the program?
Most Basic Skills programs are either run by the local figure skating club, the ice facility or the local Parks and Recreation Department. A program can also be privately owned. The size of the program is entirely dependent upon local factors. These factors include the amount of ice time devoted per week to Basic Skills, population base and demographics, income level of the population and how many other programs are offered in the area.
- How many sessions should I offer per year? How many weeks are in a session?
- How much ice time can be allocated to Basic Skills lessons per week?
- How many skaters (minimum/maximum) should be in each class (maximum of 12)?
Recommended Class Sizes:
- Snowplow Sam: seven skaters to one instructor
- Basic Skills and above: 10 skaters to one instructor
- How much does ice cost at the facility?
- How much are you going to pay your staff (full instructors, assistants, director)?
- Will the program offer practice ice for the skaters? During class time? During public sessions?
- How will the program handle make-up lessons?
- How much are lessons going to cost? Will you offer a family discount?
- Are there any benefits to joining? Coupons? Free public skating sessions? Are rental skates included in the fee?
- Suggested length of class times (consider the ages of the skaters in each class):
- Snowplow Sam: 30 minute class
- Basic 1-3: 30 minute class
- Basic 5-8/Adults: 45 minute class
- Special Olympics/Therapeutic 1-12: 30 minute class
- Hockey 1-4: 30-45 minute class
- Free skate 1-6: 45-60 minute class
- Pairs: 45-60 minute class
- Dance 1-6/AIM 1-4: 45-60 minute class
- Synchronized Team 1-4: 60 minute class
- Speed skating 1-6: 30 minute class
- Theatre on Ice 1-4: 30 minute class
Hiring a Program Director
A successful Basic Skills program requires a great deal of planning and organization. Hiring a skating director is critical. It is their responsibility to implement and administer the program. The skating director oversees and coordinates the activities of the Basic Skills program with the local club, the rink, the Board of Directors and the board's various committees.
Qualifications of a great skating director:
- Extensive skating background or understanding of the program
- Strong interpersonal skills
- Experience designing and overseeing program operations
- Strong administrative and organizational skills
- Able to promote, market and attract people to the program
- Excellent customer service skills
- Membership in U.S. Figure Skating and PSA
Specific responsibilities of a skating director
- Schedule Basic Skills lessons, instructors and ice time
- Develop printed material
- Coordinate and train instructional staff, set testing standards
- Hold staff meetings and in-services
- Update membership lists
- Facilitate a Bridge Program between Basic Skills skaters and the local club
- Organize Basic Skills competitions, ice shows/exhibitions, special workshops and camps
- Any other activities that will serve to further the Basic Skills Program's purpose and mission
- Maintain a list of members, test records and a mailing list
- Act as a resource for prospective and existing members
- Maintain contact with local media to raise awareness of ice skating and skating-related activities
- Promote the sports of figure skating and hockey
- Schedule events and promotions that will attract media attention
- Advertise and market ice skating to the community
Hiring a Qualified Staff
A strong program has a variety of instructors at all levels of skating ability. A staff needs to be balanced with high-end competitive coaches, young enthusiastic student instructors, recreational instructors, adult skaters and assistants. Most important, the staff must be well trained and teach high-quality skating techniques. Ask about their teaching and skating credentials, experience and membership in the various skating organizations (U.S. Figure Skating and PSA). At least two training meetings should be held every year. Keep your staff well educated and well informed of ice facility schedules, compliment them on a job well done, and treat them with respect. They are the ones who come in direct contact with your customers. A strong program always has a terrific staff. Your staff must keep the skaters enthusiastic about lessons and keep them coming back for more! Look at their attendance records. Listen to what the parents are saying about them.
The size of your staff will depend upon the size of your skating school and the number of classes you plan to offer. An instructor's personal skating accomplishments are not necessarily related to teaching ability. It is very important that the teaching techniques of your staff are standardized. Try to have your staff use similar language so that when a skater moves from one instructor to the next, they will feel comfortable and not confused. Consistency is one of the key ingredients to a successful program.
Employee vs. Independent Contractor: Skating instructors can either be hired as an employee of the rink, club or parks department, or as independent contractors. Consult with your state employment office to find the rules in your area. There are 20 factors indicating whether an individual is considered an employee or independent contractor by the Internal Revenue Service. A person does not need to meet all criteria. Make sure the tax status of your staff is correct.
Set up a pay scale for your staff. Experience and credentials should be rewarded as well as enthusiasm and reliability. Sometimes your highest qualified instructors are not your best Basic Skills group lesson instructors. A great line to remember is "Hire for attitude - train for skills." You can train the testing procedures and skating technique, but you cannot train personality or loyalty.