Parent’s Guide

Skating Parents Information Guide

Welcome to The Fort Myers Skatium, Skating Parent Guide. Many parents need help and information, to help guide their skater in the correct direction. We hope we can answer some questions you may have, and provide you with enough advice and information for your child.

Skating is a wonderful sport that not only teaches you how to glide across the ice effortlessly, but also teaches discipline, respect, stress management, sportsmanship, and many life lessons.

There are many aspects to skating. Group lessons, private lessons, skating as an individual or pair, ice shows, exhibitions, competitions at local, regional, national or Olympic levels.

As a parent, ask yourself:

  • Why does my child want to skate, and what is she/he expecting to get out of it?
  • Does my child want to skate recreational, or competitive?
  • Is my child willing to invest her free time in practicing?
  • Is this sport something I can afford?

Group Lessons vs. Private Lessons

Group lessons are a great way to introduce your child to skating. There are usually 10 -12 children in a group lessons, (smaller number for tots class) according to ability level. In ISI you start in Tots (3-5yrs old) or Pre Alpha for beginner skaters (6yrs & up).

ISI or Ice Skating Institute is geared toward the recreational and competitive skater, not wishing to compete in the USFSA test track. USFSA or United States Figure Skating Association is the governing body of competitive skating, which reaches all the way to the Olympics.

At The Skatium, we follow the ISI System for group lessons, and follow both the ISI and USFSA for the competitive track. In each 8 week class session, you can expect to learn approximately 5 different elements from your level. You will then be given a progress report, to see if you have accomplished all the elements, and can proceed to the next level. There are 9 skating levels, Tots 1-4, and Pre-alpha – Delta, before you reach Freestyle levels, FS 1-10.

When is your child ready for private lessons? You can start private lessons at any time. It is good to start in the group lesson program first, to see if you like skating and like working in a group situation. You can work with a private lesson coach in conjunction with your group lesson. Some skaters develop a close relationship with their group lesson coach and often take private lessons with them as well. Private lesson coaches can help you excel with any skating element you are having difficulty with, or to help you get started in the competitive field. Private lessons are slightly more costly than group lessons; however you get more individual attention with a private coach. Group lessons usually run in 8 week sessions, with a 30 minute group lesson and 15 minute of practice session. Private lessons are taken in 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes with prices ranging from $15.00 – $70.00, plus ice time.

A Parent’s Duty

Help your child set realistic goals. Do not compare your child to anyone else’s. All children learn in a different way, some verbally some visually.

Some skaters will excel faster than others, do not be disappointed if your child does not excel as quick, and on the other hand don’t gloat to other parents that your child excels faster than others.

This is a big no no! Do not coach your child from the doorway or hockey boxes. Not only do you disrupt your child’s practice times, you disrupt the other skaters on the ice as well. Our coaches are trained professionals, if they need your input they will ask. All of our coaches are independent contractors, who have been contracted and undergone extensive background checks with the city of Ft Myers. All have tested or are certified through one, two, three or all skating organizations: ISI, USFSA, PSA & USA Hockey.  Although you might mean well, you may be harming the child’s technique that the coach has taught them. It is wonderful to support your child, by watching them skate from the bleachers or snack bar area. Parent coaching is not allowed at The Skatium.

Do support your child when they do a good job, however, yelling, or screaming at your child is not acceptable. This not only embarrasses your child, but yourself as well. You may be asked to leave the building if you continue unacceptable behavior.

Sportsmanship is a key factor in skating. Only one child will come in first place in a competition, others may be disappointed. Do not criticize other skaters. This is a life lesson. You will not always come in first place. Support your child, and let them know as long as they did their best they will always be a winner in your eyes. With hard work for the next competition they may achieve their goal. What you see on the ice and what the judges see are not always the same. Judges have certain elements and criteria that they must follow, which parents may not be aware of.

You, your child and your coach should be on the same page. Set aside a time to go over your child’s goal for the season.  Listen to your coach’s advice and instructions, especially when practicing on the ice or during off-ice training. Parents, be sure to pay your bills on time. This is how your coach makes their living. Be sure to be on time for your lessons, failure to show up or cancel results in full payment of your lesson.

Changing Coaches

Some skaters stay with the same coach their entire career, other feel the need to change. Changing from one to coach another does not have to be a difficult task if handled correctly.

First assess the situation, do I want to change coaches because lack of progress with my child’s skating, is the coach not qualified to take a skater to a higher level, is a parent expecting higher expectations from their child, or another parent boasts that you should take from their coach if you want your child to excel faster.

If you have decided that you want to change coaches for whatever reason, it is best to sit down with your coach and explain why you are unhappy, and what your next step will be. I always recommend you draw up a letter, as well stating your intentions, this way it is perfectly clear to both parties.  You must be sure your skating bills are all paid in full before you set up lessons with any other coach. An Ethical coach should ask you, if you are taking lessons with another coach and if you are current with your bills. He/she will then contact your coach to verify this information, before they become your new coach.

Solicitation & Third Party Solicitation

Soliciting from a coach means; speaking to a skater or their parents, convincing them that they can train your child better than your current coach. Third party solicitation means when a parent convinces you that you should switch to their coach, because they can train your child better. Both of these methods are unethical. A coach can and will be dismissed from their job for solicitation, and a parent can be asked to leave the rink as well. If another coach contacts/solicits you regarding switching to them, please contact the skating director and they will handle the situation. Parent gossip about coaches and skaters is never welcome in the rink.

“Lobby People”

Ninety-eight percent of the parents in any rink are very good at being supportive, and following the role of a quality skating parent. They are thoughtful and careful in their conversations, and avoid going beyond referring back to “ask your coach” Now lets look at the other 2 percent.

Bad information generally comes from self-appointed experts who spend their time in the lobby or stands looking for naïve parents to prey on. We call them “Lobby People.” They are always talking and befriending parents. They twist parent’s brains with rumor, innuendos and the power of suggestion, taking things out of sequence and creating in the new parent’s minds. Lobby People may have children who skate, but they themselves are underachievers who wish they were coaches or judges so that they could have more power. Their only control and power comes from splitting clubs and rink programs in half, by pitting parent against parent and coach against coach. When lobby people leave a rink, you can usually hear a sigh of relief from the other parents, coaches and rink, but you shouldn’t relax, as now they are headed home to work the phones or computer spreading their misinformation!

If a Lobby Person approaches you, avoid lengthy conversations. Be polite, but move on quickly. They will start talking about the weather then move to how bad they think the rink or coaches are, and how your child will benefit from a coaching change. If you follow their advice, you may find your child’s skating career in ashes! There is always one of these people at every rink, parents be alert and beware!