Your World is a series of blogs on all things figure skating by Jo Ann Schneider Farris, About.com's Guide to Figure Skating. In this article I explore some of what it takes to be a skating coach.
Years ago, when I was co-directing the learn to skate and learn to play hockey programs at a local ice arena in my city, I received a call from a young man who wished to apply for a job as a skating instructor at the rink. The boy was very enthusiastic about teaching skating, and explained that he had played ice hockey when he was young, but had not skated in awhile and that he was a bit out of practice.
I needed to hire an assistant for the learn to play hockey classes at the rink; experienced teenage skaters and players were needed to help especially with the younger skaters. We set up an interview, but I also wanted to check out the applicant's skating skills.
The next day, the young man showed up for our "interview-appointment." I was caught by surprise since he did not own his own skates, and was wearing rental skates! He then struggled to walk in those rental skates towards the ice sheet's entry door when I asked him to show me his skating skills.
I was shocked after what happened next. The boy didn't know how to skate! He had to hold on to the rail and was afraid to let go of it.
"Why would this young man apply to teach skating if he doesn't know how to skate?" I thought to myself. The whole situation seemed a bit ridiculous, but I wanted to be polite and encouraging.
"Before you consider teaching skating, you will need to learn how to skate," I told the applicant.
He understood, but replied that he figured he would somehow learn to skate once he was hired! He just didn't understand how much experience was and is required in order to teach ice skating.
My story may be funny, but it should be noted that some people think that very little skating experience is needed in order to become a skating coach. This assumption is far from the truth. It takes years of practice and lessons, and also competition and skating test experience before an individual is qualified to teach skating.
There is also a common misconception that someone who only knows beginning skating skills can teach beginning ice skaters, hockey players, and tots. In reality, basic ice skating skills really should be taught by the most qualified skating coaches. What ice skaters learn when they are beginners will greatly affect their skating later on.
Before you consider becoming an ice skating teacher, become an excellent skater, but also educate yourself on what it takes. Join the ISI (Ice Skating Institute), US Figure Skating, or Skate Canada. All three of those associations have programs that will help train and assist new ice skating instructors. The PSA, Professional Skaters Association, offers online courses that educate new skating coaches. Mentoring programs with accomplished figure skating coaches are available through the PSA.
Teaching group ice skating lessons can be the best place to start because it gives new skating teachers exposure. But eventually, a coach will want to teach private lessons. Keep in mind that making a living teaching ice skating is not an easy task. Most figure skating coaches are independent contractors. Building up a private student base may take time, so it might be necessary to have another source of income while you build up your business.
More About Coaching Skating:
- Recommended Steps to Becoming a Figure Skating Coach - From U.S. Figure Skating
- Teaching Tots to Ice Skate - From Ice Skating Institute
- Accreditation and Certification - From the Professional Skaters Association
- National Coaching Certification Program - From Skate Canada