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For many parents, the idea of enrolling their children in a new sport can be quite overwhelming.
Ice skating seems complex but in actuality, it is quite simple when approached with the right knowledge.
So before anything else, it is important to teach your kids to have fun on the ice. Make sure you go into this unknown world without any expectations of your children winning medals or hope for them to become Olympic Champions. Let your kids find their way.
Time and patience do great things and if your children feel good about what they are doing, they might become the next Patrick Chan. Maybe. But they will also, without any doubt, become intelligent young adults with great skills which is just as good.
Whether the intention is to eventually play hockey or do speed skating etc., you will find that figure skating will teach you the right basics and skills. I will always recommend to have proper figure skating boots and figure skating blades. (The blades with the toe picks).
When it comes to skating boots, I recommend these companies; Gam, Riedell & Sp-Teri.
For the blades you should look into these two companies; Wilson or Mk blades. Generally, the boots and the blades are two separate investments. They often don’t come together.
However, Gam and a few other companies offer the boots with the blades which is usually for beginners or lower end ice skaters and you won’t have to worry about choosing the right blades. This is the best way to start if your kids are young or doing it for leisure. Make sure you get blade guards to protect the blades.
Depending on the frequency of the training, you should get the blades sharpened on a regular basis. I believe blade sharpening once or twice every six weeks is ideal but it is also to the discretion of the skater.
Keep in mind kids grow quickly. Therefore, it can be pricey to replace their gear every year so if your budget is tight or if you have more than one child enrolling at once, you can look into pre-owned equipment. Be aware this is suitable for the very first years of learning.
Having pre-owned skating boots could also lead to orthopedics and posture problems. In the end, physiotherapy treatments and sport doctors can be more expensive than brand
new skating gear.
Depending on the age of your child or the skating program they will be enrolled in, you may have to invest in a helmet. Ice rinks are cold so keep your child warm. For women, skating tights with a dress or leggings are perfect. For men, skating pants are fine. Make sure the kids have gloves and a warm jacket. The jacket shouldn’t be heavy to wear as they won’t feel comfortable doing movements.
When it comes to the frequency of training sessions for beginners, it usually depends on the skating programs or the skating school you will choose. I believe two to three times a week on the ice is perfect for beginners. It is important to let your kids do other activities when they are young. It is actually good for them to miss their time on the ice and look forward to the next practice. This is how the passion grows and at times, they will ask to go back early.
Talk with your kids and ask them how they feel. It is also important to commit and stick to your schedules. Unless they are really sick or unable to go to practices, they should always go. That’s how they will learn discipline and they will find themselves improving quickly when consistency is in place.
Nowadays, skating programs are very thorough. Kids will learn as they go and if they don’t feel pressured, they will learn new moves very fast. One thing that will help new skaters are dance classes. Off-ice work is often ignored but it is important to introduce beginners to musicality, flexibility, posture and self-confidence. For instance, jazz, hip hop or ballet are all very good dance styles that can improve one’s child dexterity.
Finally, the whole process of enrolling in ice skating is actually a lot of fun. Ask your kids if they are happy and how they feel with their new gear. Let them choose the colours they want to wear and let them express themselves because in the end, fgure skating is art.
I suggest to kids and their parents to watch international competitions on youtube or on television when it is broadcast. As of now, the next international event will be the ISU Four Continents Championships in February.
For international athletes, this will be a preparation for the World Championships next spring. You should see amazing performances as some athletes are breaking world records this season! This is a very exciting time to join the sport.
To all of you new to this wonderful sport, enjoy the process and take it one step at a time.
Skaters, always enjoy yourself. Parents, always support your kids.