Skating lessons for children: is it worth it?

Skating lessons for children: is it worth it?

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Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials. What are the conditions on the ice? How would you describe them to someone who has never had skates on their feet?

Jacek Tascher: The basic problem that arises when you get on ice is the overwhelming feeling of imbalance. Everything happens incomparably faster than it happens when we move in ordinary shoes, on a normal ground for us, i.e. on the floor, sidewalk, lawn, in a word, after everything that we deal with except the ice sheet.
Just before entering it is good to remember that all the new skills that we have acquired so far in our lives required learning, effort and compliance with certain rules ... On ice it will also be familiar to us that a huge number of consciousness attacks us at the same time incentives. But this is only at the very beginning. When can you start learning to skate?

J.T: Four years is the age when you can start playing with ice skates. Of course, this is a conventional limit, because as you know, children develop at different rates. We usually advise against early start, because skating shoes are usually more rigid than those where the child walks away from home. And remember that at this age the child's foot is still forming.
Fortunately, there are no other contraindications, because children are already susceptible to learning skating elements at this age. It is naturally important that learning is carried out using a variety of fun elements. Keeping children focused and interested in the subject of the meeting is probably the biggest challenge for the lecturer. The social element - being in a group - helps a lot.

What precautions are you taking to keep learning safe?

J.T: At the beginning, what is very important for children: head protection - a helmet. Just light, cycling and we all immediately feel safer. And if your child's skills and coordination increase, you can say goodbye to him.
In general - the best in this respect is prevention, and thus learning how to counteract situations that can lead to injury and how to save yourself when everything "accelerates" and movements get out of our control.
One is to teach a good technique of navigating the ice and strive to develop (as quickly as possible) habits that counteract the emergence of situations that imply threats. Second, teaching how to behave in situations where there is a loss of balance.

The first harvest is to develop good habits.

Such as the fact that we do not look under our feet, because the lowered head is "pulling" towards the ice and hooking the ice with the tips placed at the beginning of the skates. The same applies to "staying" behind the hips. We pay constant attention to the bad reflex of unnatural raising of arms, which significantly reduces the impact of the shoulder girdle on our body control. We also pay attention to the fact that the hands are kept some distance from the torso and do not show excessive, uncoordinated mobility. Arms and hands are elements stabilizing our body on the ice sheet.

Another important habit that we are trying to develop is the use of knees as a natural shock absorber. The knees constantly (and often in an unnatural way) straighten at the initial stage of learning.

When you lose your balance, you often fall (and this happens often and this is a normal component of ice skating). For this occasion, we teach the habit of using hand assistance to cushion the fall. We make sure that the hands are not stiffened and the palms turned inside out towards the ice pane.

It is also important to develop the habit of protecting the head when falling backwards and "folding" it towards the chest.

To the full skill we add coping back to the upright position. During the fall, everything happens extremely quickly, so developing the habit of automatic, proper response in such a situation causes that both children, which we do not have before our eyes the vision of the constantly lurking "disaster".
And in addition - we teach the easiest way to stop and protect with our hands as soon as possible. Stretched out and stiff at the elbows. Can everyone learn ice skating? Are there any contraindications?

J.T: Virtually anyone can acquire basic skating skills, although the pace of acquiring them varies. It has to do with individual predispositions that each of us has. Our long-standing practice shows that there are very few people who are not able to learn to skate. Of course, we are not talking about figure skating in a competitive form, because in this matter it is always good to check what innate predispositions a child can show. But this only applies to competitive training.
Here we talk primarily about comprehensive development and recreation - that is, pleasure in its pure form. Cases where efforts to teach children and adults skating skills and simple skating elements fail, for example, may be associated with exceptional coordination. Also, do not start the adventure of ice skating, if we know that the child / adult has labyrinth disorders or exceptional bone fragility.

What about sick children? Is the ice rink open for them or toughened up?

J.T: By all means - you only need to follow some basic rules. Such as clothing for "onion" and adapted to the conditions prevailing at the ice rink. Other conditions prevail on the outdoor ice rink (current weather conditions are also important here), others on the ice rink in the tent hall (without ventilation), and different on the ice rink in the hall where there is ventilation and temperature control (here, for example, Torwar in Warsaw) . Generally, if you are moving, everything is fine. We catch cold most often when we get warmed up, we do not move for a long moment and we "cool" not remembering that then "our clothing onion" asks for more layers.

It is worth buying skates immediately, or is it better to rent them?

J.T: If you rent, it's good quality ice skating shoes. The quality of rentals at the ice rinks is - unfortunately - very different. If we buy - remember the rule that very cheap in the end always costs us the most expensive. Proposals below PLN 100 are a joke, not an opportunity. It is always worth remembering that our legs are not exchangeable and we have only one for life.

How do we dress a child at the ice rink?

J.T: The outfit should be comfortable and so-called "Onion", adapted to the conditions prevailing at the ice rink. Such an ice rink as Warsaw's Torwar is a fairly warm place, there is no need to give your child a winter jacket, just a fleece sweatshirt, for example. We absolutely (also for safety reasons) take with us five-finger gloves.
You have to remember that at the beginning the children get cold more, but when they do a large dose of various moves and poses in class (falling over, getting up, reaching for their shoes, cups etc.), and there will be a large dose of laughter and emotions , begin to peel off individual layers. We dress children appropriately warmer (including hats and gloves) on the outdoor ice rink or in a tent in which there is no ventilation.

What does the first lesson look like?

J.T: In the first lesson, there is a lot of what we were talking about when learning safely. We teach and tame with falling, we show what is the most effective way to get up after falling. We teach, first by walking (yes, yes ...) moving forward, then let the skate move a little on the ice at every step. First, straight and forward rebounds, small squats, light bends. We introduce training props that make classes more attractive and supportive. We protect so that it is safe, but at the same time to lead to moving on ice as quickly as possible using our own sense of balance. We also teach the easiest way to stop. So that the way to stop is not a band surrounding the pane or someone who is within our arms ...

After what time does the child feel free on ice?

J.T: This is very individual. It depends on individual abilities, as well as whether we try to learn ourselves or use the advice of trainers or instructors. Why study with trainers? Learning skating skills - just like learning to write, drive a car, get used to the computer, requires a specialist. Of course you can try it yourself, but as experience teaches, this is not the best, cheapest and most importantly - the most effective way. All mistakes that can be made along the way would take a long record. Another issue is the time that you then need to devote to correcting bad habits and learning again ... In addition, the issue of safe learning has been discussed before. Our experience shows that after the first class some can, with the simplest steps, move forward, others take 3-4 classes. Usually - quite freely, using the simplest steps - the child moves forward in 6-10 classes.

What are the benefits of ice skating for children?

J.T: Ice skating, also learning to skate, is an activity that requires consistency and continuity. Giving visible results with regular training. We are constantly learning something new, we are entering higher and higher levels of difficulty. There is no boredom here, because learning even the simplest forms of figure skating is a wealth of elements, a variety of techniques and a wide scope for displaying them. A sport that improves coordination, supports all muscle groups, slims and gives us grace and lightness of movement. In addition to learning painless falls - and falls can one day always happen to us even on a straight path, in addition to improving overall fitness, coordination, modeling a nice figure (gentlemen certainly understand that this is important not only for ladies), there are other advantages. This sport adds confidence and self-esteem. We all know how important this is in the world around us today.

Jacek Tascher - works according to the slogan of Walley Skates - good fun. A professional trainer and promoter of figure skating. The solo country champion and runner up in the dance pair, he defended the colors of the country at the European and World Championships. He graduated from the coaching department of the University of Physical Education in Warsaw and postgraduate studies in marketing management and strategic marketing at the Warsaw School of Economics. As a trainer, he managed training at the Polish Figure Skating Association for many years. Since 1996, he also comments on figure skating for Polish Eurosport. For many years, apart from competitive skating, he has been involved in amateur skating.