LEARNING TO SKATE: A SKATING TEACHER'S PERSPECTIVEI recently had the opportunity to sit down with Ryan, a Montreal skating coach. 20-year-old Ryan has a calm yet fun demeanor which I imagine works incredibly well with young kids. He has been teaching kids to skate for the past 3 years while also pursuing a Bachelor of Arts.
Dupliskate: How do you motivate kids who are learning to skate?
Ryan: It's all about making the kids believe that we are playing games and not working. They can't feel like learning to skate is an obligation. I will ask a 6 year old who their favorite hockey player is. They often say Sydney Crosby so I say - "ok, I am going to teach you to skate just like Crosby!" They get eager and become more than willing to play along.
Dupliskate: What are the typical issues you experience when teaching a young child to skate?
Ryan: Focus is the number one issue I deal with in teaching kids to skate. They often become hyper and lose focus. I never teach more than 4 students at a time because it becomes too challenging to give each child the attention and guidance they need. On the other hand, fatigue is often a problem. When kids are learning to skate, they get tired easily and then act out. It's physically challenging for kids to skate for 30 to 60 minutes. When they get tired, they start to skate on their ankles. One thing I have learned is that the best form of teaching skating is through demonstration. Kids don't understand what it means to lengthen your stride or push harder into the ice. They need to be shown.
Dupliskate: Does skate sharpening have an effect on young kids?
Ryan: Absolutely. Uneven edges make it more difficult and will cause children to slip and slide. Kids with poorly sharpened or dull skates can have trouble stopping, cutting and doing crossovers.
Dupliskate: What should a parent look for in a skating teacher or skating coach?
Ryan: Aside from being a good skater with teaching experience, it is important that the skating coach be patient and a good communicator. Not every skating coach will be able to teach every age or skating skill level.