The most important thing you can do as the parent of a figure skater is educate yourself and support your child both on and off the ice. The best way to provide this support is to learn what they are experiencing both now and in the future. Please take a few moments to browse the following information, which should provide some basic considerations to make good decisions about your child’s involvement.
Why figure skating? Your child can benefit greatly from participating in skating. Here are just a few values your child will learn through their participation:
- Acquire an appreciation for an active, healthy lifestyle-participants may be 3 or 93 years old.
- Develop self-esteem, self-confidence, self-discipline and self-reliance by mastering and performing skating skills.
- Learn to perform under pressure and test emotional and physical balance.
- Be part of an exciting individual or team sport.
- Develop short term and long term goals.
- Learn about managing success and disappointment.
- Learn about fair play and being a good sport.
- Learn respect for others.
When is the right time to join a Figure Skating Club
Joining a club is an important step in a figure skater’s life, as this becomes your training home. Once a skater is ready to take official U.S. Figure Skating tests or compete in competitions beyond Learn to Skate USA levels, joining a club becomes necessary. Every club offers different membership packages and benefits. Most figure skating clubs sponsor monthly or weekly ice sessions, test sessions with judges for skaters to advance, host ice shows, exhibitions, fundraising activities, social events, awards banquets and host competitions. Most clubs have information at the rink or use the Club search tab on www.usfigureskating.org. Some areas have more than one to choose from, so get information from all of them and shop around. To learn more and look for a list of figure skating clubs in your area, go here.
Why should you join? There are many benefits to joining U.S. Figure Skating as a subsequent member for an additional $24 (your club may add on additional fees).
Here are some reasons to join:
- More parental involvement will be a win/win for your skater.
- You will have a direct link to all the information provided by your club and U.S. Figure Skating.
- You will have a voice and a vote in club business.
- By being more involved, you are more likely to have a positive experience in the sport.
- When nominations are being sought for club board positions, you would already be a club member.
- Clubs will benefit from a larger membership base.
All About Coaches
There are many reasons to hire a private coach for your child. Coaches can help skaters excel at a faster pace than in group lessons, supplement group lessons, provide assistance on a difficult skill, or help when the skater is ready to compete more seriously.
To begin this process, ask the local club or the skating director for a list of all staff or club coaches in your area. Select two or three potential coaches from this list and set up face-to-face meetings to ask important questions and find out how you and your child interact with the prospective coach. Things to consider when selecting a coach are personality, learning and teaching styles, experience and technical know-how.
Here are a few questions we recommend asking:
- How long have you been coaching?
- What are your greatest coaching accomplishments?
- What is your skating background? Do you specialize in coaching certain disciplines (singles, pairs, dance, synchronized skating)? What levels have you passed? Did you skate competitively?
- Are you a member of U.S. Figure Skating and the Professional Skaters’ Association (PSA)?
- Are you compliant with all U.S. Figure Skating requirements? Do you hold any PSA rankings or ratings?
- How do you stay current with the sport and the profession of coaching?
- What are your rates for lessons, competitions, cutting music, etc.? How often do you bill for charges? When do you expect to be paid?
- What is your policy if we have to cancel a planned lesson?
- Are there any other policies that we should be aware of in advance?
Click here to learn more about coaching and coaching requirements.
Testing - The Backbone of Skating
The test structure is the common core of figure skating. Every athlete in every discipline must take tests, the foundation and building blocks to develop strong skating skills, to move throughout the pipeline of figure skating.
Here are some things you need to know about the test structure:
- Everything in figure skating is based on a skater's test level: entry to competition, participation in various programs, placement within programs, etc.
- Skaters move through the test structure at their own pace. There are no rules on age or time requirements.
- Skaters can use the test structure as an entry point to competitions or it can be a unique achievement on its own.
- Test record and qualifying (and international) competition history is the only permanent record that follows a skater through their career.
- Passing the highest test in any discipline earns the skater the title U.S. Figure Skating Gold Medalist
Skaters start with the Moves in the Field (MITF) structure. MITF is a basic skating skills progression. Each test level has several set patterns of step sequence elements including turns, edges, spirals, etc., that get progressively more difficult.
The Free Skating & Pairs structure requires skaters to perform a program with jumps, spins and step sequences. Please note, skaters must pass the corresponding MITF test before taking the free skating tests.
The Dance & Solo Dance structure requires skaters to perform 3-4 set pattern dances per level. The Free Dance & Solo Free Dance track requires a free dance.
Competitive Pipleline - Nonqualifying and Qualifying Competition Structures
A U.S. Figure Skating nonqualifying competition is an event that any member club can host, and any member can choose to enter.
- Most competitions offer the core levels and events of singles skating:
- Well balanced program free skating events based off the test-levels.
- Restricted free skating events, called test track, which have the same entry requirements as well balanced program, but the elements are limited.
- Short program events/compulsory events
- Competitions can offer additional fun events for skaters such as Spins & Jumps Challenge, Step Sequences, Moves in the Field, Showcase, etc.
- The results of nonqualifying competitions are not recorded, and do not count toward any other official events.
There is a standard announcement that host clubs use to structure their events to keep the rules are consistent.
Why should your child participate in nonqualifying competitions?
- To assist with goal-setting and measuring progress throughout the season.
- For the opportunity to compete against other skaters, see friends and meet new people.
- To receive specific feedback about strengths and weaknesses.
- To begin participation that can last throughout a career from Learn to Skate USA to Team USA.
Qualifying Competitions - Regional, Sectional and U.S. Championships
Qualifying competitions are the backbone of competitive figure skating. This is the only track to the U.S. Championships, the World Championships and the Olympic Winter Games, and the first competition that is part of a skater's permanent record. Skaters must be at the juvenile level or higher to participate. Approximately 5,000 skaters enter in singles, pairs or ice dance, and synchronized skating qualifying competitions each year.
To learn more about the additional skating programs in which your child can participate, visit each of the following pages:
Competition Scoring Systems
Learn More about Skating Skills
Athlete safety and well-being
U.S. Figure Skating SafeSport Program
We can all play a role in preventing abuse and reducing misconduct in sport. The U.S. Figure Skating SafeSport Program provides resources for all members to identify abuse and misconduct, steps that can be taken to reduce it and procedures to respond to it. The U.S. Figure Skating SafeSport Program is proud to offer free online resources and training to all the parents of our members. We must all be vigilant guardians of our children.
- To learn more about the entire SafeSport Program, please go here.
U.S. Figure Skating and its member clubs rely on volunteers to support skaters and coaches as they participate in figure skating at both the competitive and recreational levels. If possible, take time to volunteer with your club. You will learn more about skating, and at the same time, you and your child will make lifetime skating friends.
The Parents Committee of U.S. Figure Skating, comprised of experienced parents of competitive skaters, athletes, judges and coaches, offers its perspective and that of other colleagues on topics relevant to having children involved in the sport. As you may already have discovered, figure skating in all of its disciplines, has lots to offer our children.