Pro’s Corner

Making the Transition from Group Lessons to Club Membership

Regardless of the chosen discipline, skaters must practice for hours and hours to master

the basic fundamentals of the sport. Great skaters make it look so easy – gliding along

effortlessly, spinning fast and centered, jumps high and strong, and with all the intricate

edgework and moves connecting it all together – but it takes a lot of dedication for them

to get where they are. How do you set about on a similar path? Keep reading.

Practice makes perfect!

If your child wants to improve, it takes practice. The rule of thumb is for every group

lesson taken, he or she should practice at least one hour to work on what he or she was

taught. You can use public skating sessions or ask if your child is ready to skate on Free Style Sessions.

Get a list of things to practice from your instructor

or bring your record book to the session so you know what to work on.

Another idea is to ask your skating director about signing up for more than one class

lesson per week. The learning curve increases rapidly being on the ice twice per week,

plus there’s the advantage of constant supervision in the early stages of learning. U.S.

Figure Skating encourages beginner skaters to complete the classes through Basic 8 or

Adult 4. Many specialty classes become available at this point – through either a Bridge

Program or junior club program – to learn more about free skating, pairs, ice dancing,

Artistry in Motion, synchronized skating and the newest addition, Theatre On Ice (TOI).

Participation in these classes helps skaters become well rounded while being exposed to

all the different aspects of figure skating.

When is the right time to join a figure skating club?

Joining a club after group lessons is the first step to becoming a more advanced skater. A

club gives skaters a place to call home when training. Most figure skating clubs sponsor

provide test sessions with judges for skaters to advance, host ice shows and exhibitions, sponsor

fundraising activities, social events, and host competitions for their

members and others to participate. Check with your skating director or the rink’s bulletin

boards for information about joining the local club. Some areas have more than one from

which to choose, so get information from all of them and shop around. Every club offers

different membership packages and benefits. 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 Basic Skills, joining

a club becomes necessary.  Skating clubs are run mostly by volunteers. 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 lifelong skating friends.

Test Structure

Think of figure skating beyond Basic Skills in ladder progressions. The test structure is

the backbone. All skaters must participate to advance to the next level. Moves in the field

tests (which essentially took the place of figures) are the prerequisite to the other

proficiency tests – free skate, pairs, ice dancing. Each level has specific required

elements that skater’s must perform for a panel of 1-3 qualified judges. The pass rate

decreases as the level increases. On average, 99 percent of skaters taking the prepreliminary

test pass, while around 54 percent of skaters taking the senior test pass each

year. Each level has a set standard to be considered “passing.” If the combined total of

skills performed does not meet this standard, then the test is considered a “re-try,” and the

skater needs to retake the entire test.


U.S. Figure Skating provides a full competition structure for its members. From Basic

Skills to adults, invitational club competitions, artistic, synchronized skating and

qualifying events that lead to the U.S. and World championships and the Olympic Winter

Games, there is something for everyone.

Once a proficiency test is passed, then the skater normally stays at that level if he or she

wishes to compete. All skaters may compete in Basic Skills and opens

(invitationals/nonqualifying), but the qualifying system is where the “road to the

Olympics” begins. The participation numbers in the qualifying system break down as 80

percent girls/ladies, 12 percent boys/men, 4 percent pairs and 4 percent ice dancing.

Skaters may choose to never compete and continue up the ladder of tests to gain

credentials for coaching, judging or to help stay motivated while working on more

difficult skills.

Synchronized Skating

Synchronized skating is a popular discipline both within the United States and around the

world. Synchronized skating is a team sport in which 8-20 skaters perform a program

together. It is characterized by teamwork, speed, intricate formations and challenging step

sequences. As with other disciplines, teams perform a program with specific elements,

including blocks, circles, wheels, lines, intersections and moves in the field. Skaters have

a lot of fun participating on a synchronized team because it is a team effort and they have

a chance to skate with their friends. Look for a synchronized skating team in your area;

most are either supported by the local figure skating club or Basic Skills program


Source: U.S. Figure Skating