Many kids love to sit around and watch ice skaters gliding across the ice and pretend that it is really them on the ice. Does this describe your child as well? If so, you might want to consider ice-skating as the activity for them. Ice skating is a great sport for boys as well as girls, and is so graceful. From speed racing to ice dancing there is something for everyone.
Ice skating is not for the faint at heart though; it takes hours of practice, lessons and travel time to be a successful skater. Many students spend 1-2 hours each day at the rink practicing so they can master a particular skill. If your child has a desire to become an Olympic athlete and you are considering allowing this pursuit, please be aware that many parents move across the country to work and train with a specific coach, and these coaches are not cheap. They are in high demand and very expensive, as well as the moving costs associated with such a pursuit. If you are accepting of these challenges then by all means, move full steam ahead, if you are unsure whether you are willing to commit this much for skating, then allow your child to take a few small classes and get their feet wet before making any major commitments.
Ice skating is a wonderful sport and has many benefits including the overall muscle strengthening that occurs. Due to the nature of skating, the athletes are very strong overall, despite their small size. Skating also improves cardiovascular fitness, as well as coordination, balance, posture, muscle control, and body awareness. Your child will be exposed to music as well as dancing, and skating can make a wonderful family activity as well.
Wherever you have thick enough ice, you have the ability to skate, whether it is an indoor rink, outdoor rink or even the pond on the family farm. All make great places to skate. Kids who excel at skating are typically very friendly, outgoing, and extroverted children. They are somewhat reckless, which is a skill necessary in order to master the jumps and leaps. They enjoy the fast speeds involved, and they are willing to put a lot of work into the skill. Many competition skaters spend as little as two and as much as 4 hours a day on the ice. This is their schedule at least 5 sometimes 6 days a week. Not all children are comfortable putting this much time and effort into an activity.
Skaters need to also have high self-esteem and be able to take criticism in stride. Competitions are not easy, and the judges are not always nice, nor do they always say nice things. You want your child to be able to compete without becoming a pile of tears immediately afterwards. The pressures that accompany competitions is enormous and not all children can handle the stress.
Most rinks will start offering classes for children as young as 5 years old in groups, with private lessons being possible as young as four. By the time your child is 8 years old, they should have made significant progress in terms of skill and grace. Your child should improve a bit each year and the change should be noticeable.
When selecting a coach this can be considered a lifelong commitment, most skaters stay with the same coach for years if not their whole skating career. Select carefully, your childs coach should be kind, very knowledgeable, preferably a former competition skater and have a teaching style that fits well with your childs personality. Personal preference will determine whether a male or female coach is better, you should always make sure the coach is a member of either the Professional Skaters Association (PSA) or the U.S. Figure Skating Association. Both groups offer certification to coaches, based upon their skills.
There are several styles of skating to choose from singles freestyle, pairs freestyle, ice dancing, and synchronized team skating. The costs involved with each are expensive, with skates for a beginner costing approximately $75, while the skates for a serious advanced skater costing close to $1,000 or more. On top of the expense for the skates, are workout clothing, ice time, lessons, coach’s fees, and if your child is going to compete each competition charges an entrance fee.