Thursday, December 1, 2011

Learn to Skate--as an Adult

In an adult group class, the 25 year old coach was teaching us to do lunges. The class is divided between people over 40 and people under 25. The under 25's do the lunge. The over 40's applaud and cheer them on enthusiastically. Then group coach has the over 40's do it. "Get really down in the knee!" she says to our half hearted effort.

The over 40's all burst into laughter. The young coach blushes. Charming Charlie says, "I can get down but I can't get up." I tell her, "Wait 'til you're 60. You'll look back on this day and laugh too."   Hockey Harold gives it a manly try, rams into the boards and pulls himself up. "That's not gonna happen."  Poor coach, stuck with a curriculum for kids and teaching it to adults.

Some weeks later came shoot the duck. This was introduced to us with great enthusiasm. The over 40's laughed again. We didn't even try.  (However, this doesn't mean that older mature senior adults  AARPC eligible skaters can't do it. I saw a woman in her seventies do a classic shoot the duck across the length of a rink. She couldn't do it every day, but she could do it, and do it well. And by the way, every one on the session burst into spontaneous applause.)

So even though I'm in private lessons, and I'm testing, I still take group lessons. What wonderful fun!

Members of the adult group have been skating together at this rink for several years. The rink doesn't use the adult program, but sticks with the kids program. We do Basic 1-8 not 1-4. There's a distinct advantage to this for the rink; Their coaches don't have to keep two separate programs in their heads. For the skaters there's an advantage too; We're learning the program as it's meant to be taught.

We're also fortunate that the coaches don't make us do every skill to pass. I don't jump or spin; The coach substitutes something else. The guys in hockey skates are reluctant to do spirals; no problem, do something else. This is really an excellent example of how an adult program should be run, with flexibility and innovation. Adults are there to have a good time. We don't have a deadline for our triples; We know our limits and we want to have fun while learning a skill. I've had some really good times in the adult Basic class.

Then one day, they passed me into Freestyle. Oh, I was miserable. I'm in Ice Dance, I don't jump. The class is filled with little kids wanting to jump and three adults who are also willing to try. I stuck it out for one round and went back to Basic 8. There's stuff I can work on at that level: waltz 8s, and back edges, and maybe even a lunge. I just didn't want to spend my time in Freestyle. In Basic 8 the coach can send me to a corner and let me practice dance stuff so I can get mid week ice time. I'm so not worried about getting my patch.

Surprise! Surprise! The new coach came in and said to those of us who had been in the program for a while, "You guys are ready for brackets!" So she taught us.

That's what I'm talking' about! A program that says, 'Not everyone fits in the USFSA mold. Let's keep the adult customers by acknowledging not everyone wants an axel. Let's have fun!"


  1. I like this post alot. I enjoy LTS myself, was with kids only for quite awhile and really enjoyed the time. There is something special about being 52 years older than the 2nd oldest in the class. We now have an adult LTS with 2 sessions left. I really hope it can continue but that depends on numbers. I don't think the University will continue to support the adult class if we don't get 10 skaters.

    In other news, I enjoy your blog and although I don't check it everyday, I check it enough to keep current. Keep up the good work, I expect you will have more followers than Britney Spears in no time at all.

    Please forgive me if she isn't the popular one these days. I admit that I don't try to keep up with everything..

    Harleyboy alias Tommy

  2. At my rink, we had separate adult classes that loosely go through the curriculum. After a few class sessions, when adult enrollment was low, one other lady and I were put in a Basic 6-8 class with the little kids, and we were introduced to the shoot-the-duck. It led to a lot of sliding across the ice on our butts and LOTS of laughter. From the two of us at least. The young girls were dutifully and seriously going back and forth, first with one leg and then the other. We would try, and then spin out on our derrières in fits of laughter. The kids did not understand what was so funny.

    I love being an adult skater :)

  3. When I passed Adult 4 and moved into Adult Freestyle I just felt it was completely beyond me. After a couple of sessions there I elected to go take classes with the kids and joined what my rink calls Intro to Freeskate (which is really Basic 7 and 8). I realized then that the adult curriculum just didn't teach all the elements but most adults there just don't seem to care.

    I've been in that class now for 4 terms and I don't know if I'll ever learn to do a mazurka! But I'm going to keep trying. (However, no shoot the duck for me - I'm 61 years old for goodness sake! But, I can do a lunge.

    I'm working with two coaches (one for freestyle and one I just started dance with) but I will continue to take group lessons. My rink lets us skate for free at ANY public session if we take group lessons so it's a great value.

  4. Aussie Skate offers an adult stream (Adult 1, 2,3,4) that gives you all the skills ready to join the freestyle. I came straight in at free skate 1, and all the adults there (4 in a class of 9) were willing to give everything a shot, from consecutive change of edge to 3 jumps! It was excellent.


  5. Great advice! I figured skated as a girl and now, at 40, I'm going back to it. I called the rink and the director said I could enroll in Basic 1-8 but he'd put me with the Adult 1-4. That way, I will skate with adults but I will get special instruction for Basic 1-8. PERECT!


    1. That certainly is a unique solution. I've never heard of that before.