If, amidst the holiday hurry and seasonal stress, the one thing your child is dazzled by this winter is the ice-rinks, it might be time to consider more formal training in ice-skating. Indeed, the UK has a long tradition of exceptional ice-skating, including 10 Olympic medals and more than 80 World Championship medals. Yet even with such a spectacular tradition, if your knowledge of ice-skating leaves you out in the cold, then read on for a quick summary of ice-skating for kids in the UK!
Advantages of Ice-Skating
Many children love to skate because it is a unique activity. At no other time in their daily lives can they glide across ice and jump or spin. Yet regardless of ability, ice skating offers a variety of benefits to any skater:
- A great aerobic workout.
- Enhanced muscle strength and endurance.
- Increased coordination and flexibility.
- Better posture and balance.
- A chance to choreograph movements and be creative.
- An appreciation of discipline and hard work.
- The satisfaction of meeting personal goals.
For skaters who can stay up for more than a few seconds at a time, five types of skating are recognised for formal competition. These include:
- Singles/Figure-Skating – in choreographed programmes (short and long) skaters are judged on appearance, showmanship and ability.
- Pairs-Skating – in mixed gender pairs, skaters perform choreographed programmes that include lifts and throws.
- Ice-Dancing – often the most misunderstood skating competition, ice dancing is the interpretation of dance and theatre on the ice. Think Torvill and Dean!
- Synchronised-Skating – teams of multiple skaters perform a synchronised routine.
- Speed-Skating – like athletics on ice, speed-skating involves sprinting in a circle for a set distance and the fastest skater, or the last skater still standing, wins.
Perhaps the best way to get your child involved in competitive ice-skating is to contact the National Ice-Skating Association (NISA), otherwise known as Skate UK. Skate UK offers a 10 step Learn to Skate programme that is taught by trained, professional coaches. This programme strives to:
- Provide basic skating instruction in a group format.
- Introduce skaters to the principles of “skating.”
- Identify and encourage talented skaters who may be fast-tracked through the NISA programme.
- Promote all skaters through the NISA programme.
Also, because Skate UK aims to keep all students on the ice and in action for at least 75% of any given lesson, you can rest assured that your child will receive plenty of time to practice what they love – skating!
Considerations for Competitive Skaters
If your little skater shows promise on the ice, there are many factors to consider about a competitive skating career. Before making any promises, take into account:
- Time commitments.
- Do you have the time to shuttle your skater around?
- Is it fair to the rest of the family?
- Emotional investments.
- Is your child competitive?
- Can your child handle pressure well?
- How will you all cope if your child’s skating career is unsuccessful?
- Costs. Can you afford to pay for:
- Rink rentals?
- Costumes and accessories?
- Competition fees?
- Travel to competitions?
- Extra medical expenses?
Whether your child has a long lasting love affair with skating, or just seems to be in the midst of a fling, one way to ensure his/her happiness is to provide time on the ice.