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Author Topic: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...  (Read 2700 times)

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Offline lovemyskater

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A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« on: January 04, 2014, 03:54:14 PM »
Hi!  My DD (8) just finished Holiday School (12 lessons in 2 weeks) and LOVED IT.  Which is great.

However, I noticed some things that I am not sure about, both with the lessons and the rink.  They are ISI.
1)She had a different Coach/Teacher everyday, which lead to several different styles/requirements for skills (Example: Today, during the 30 min class, at the 20 min mark they were evaluating the kids One-Foot glides, and told them they needed to be straight.  Which I get, but shouldn't they have told them that from the beginning?  Also, it's really hard to go straight when everyone is bunched in a big group, don't know how to stop, and are dodging each other. IMO)

2)The ice was always horrible, reminded me of pond ice that I used to grow up on.  In the 2 weeks, it never looked like it was resurfaced.  Yesterday we saw the Zamboni for the first time, and today, they had testing before the holiday school.  Is that normal?

3)After the first week, we saw that DD loved it, and kept trying to ask the desk who to talk to about lessons and private lessons, etc.  They wouldn't give us any information beyond what was in a brochure, which wasn't helpful at all.  I would think that if someone was asking about lessons and private lessons, you talk to them so you can get their money.

4) My husband tried talking to the Pro(?) shop about skates, and blades and all the other stuff that she would need and no one was there, even though the door was open and the light was on.  And asking at the desk got no results.

We only have 2 rinks "near" us.  This one (ISI) and another that is USFS and 20 minutes further.  Are those things normal to expect from a rink?

Thanks!
We are a new skating family, DD, 8, fell in love during holiday school.

Offline techskater

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2014, 05:15:01 PM »
It's not uncommon for rinks and pro shops to be discombobulated, especially during the holidays.  Ask to speak to the skating director and for a FS schedule so that you can evaluate coaches on your own.  This is a sport that requires a lot of tenacity and never giving up.  Good luck to you and your skater.

Offline Rachelsk8s

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2014, 06:00:33 PM »
I would second asking to speak to the skating director. I am currently the acting skating director at the rink I coach at, and have tried to make it a point to tell other staff members at the rink to direct any questions about learn to skate to me. unfortunately because there are so many staff members and it seems as though there is typically a rather high turnover rate (not coaches but rink guards and skate attendents), not all of the employees at the arena know how to answer many of the questions customers have pertaining to our skating programs. Some rinks may have classes with different coaches from week to week, I know it's definitely not ideal but some rinks may have problems retaining consistency within their coaching staff. The arena in which I coach at requires all coaches to make a commitment to teach 90% of classes in each session, but it can be difficult finding coaches who can make that commitment. As far as the ice quality goes, I really don't know how to answer that one...perhaps there's hockey before group classes and they're not cleaning it? I honestly haven't found ice during learn to skate an issue around here but that could just be because there's a lot of competition here!!! I hope this helps you, good luck to you and your skater!!

Offline sarahspins

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2014, 07:32:07 PM »
It's not uncommon for rinks and pro shops to be discombobulated, especially during the holidays.  Ask to speak to the skating director and for a FS schedule so that you can evaluate coaches on your own.  This is a sport that requires a lot of tenacity and never giving up.  Good luck to you and your skater.

Ditto this - there is really minimal staff on hand during the holidays, even when there are classes running.  I know at my rink, if you asked the desk about private lessons and the skating director (or assistant director) was NOT around, you'd basically be met with blank stares.  The non-coaching staff knows very little beyond "here's our brochure"... even some of the coaches may not be able to fully answer your question.  For example, I teach classes, but I don't teach private lessons.  I really couldn't help you beyond suggesting you talk to our skating director or filling out a private lesson request form (and only because that's how I've been instructed to handle such inquiries - the form just goes to our skating director, so if she's around you can usually bypass that step by speaking with her directly).  The skating director is really who you want to speak with.

It's a similar story with the pro shop.  I know you're thinking this is the busiest time of year, surely they would have plenty of staff on hand, but there's a huge demand to take time off around the holidays, and most rinks and pro shops are typically short staffed.  I know it has happened at my rink that the pro shop is actually "closed" but it gets left unlocked with the lights on, which can create a lot of confusion as people are expecting it to be open if it's lit up and they can walk in. In a week or two when the next "session" is in full swing may be a better time to stop by.

As far as the rest, in a class that meets daily, it's not uncommon at all to have a different instructor every day, mostly due to the difficulties of scheduling someone to be there every day around the holidays.   There is always going to be some difference in how skills are presented, and what each coach expects of their students... so having a mix of instructors can actually help even that out, it's not really a bad thing.

Offline mamabear

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2014, 07:36:15 PM »
I would give the other rink a try as well and see which suits you and your daughter better. 

I have some of the same issues as far as rink staff goes at our rink.  They are nice, they are cheerful but good grief-phone calls aren't returned, no one ever seems quite sure how to run the computer/charge for skating and the turnover is quite high.  Once we were in the Learn to Skate program and now with private lessons we've figured stuff out but it took more effort on our part than I had experienced with any other activity that my children participated in.  I think I posted it here but I was quite annoyed a few weeks to find out that buying a figure skating session card does get you a benefit (buy 10, get 1 free) because I had asked several times and was told that there was no benefit or reason to do the session card.   I wonder if the changes in coaches were in part because it was a holiday school session?

Offline nicklaszlo

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2014, 07:37:25 PM »
2) No.

3) Not surprised.  Advice on choosing a coach, with links:
http://xan-boni.blogspot.com/2011/01/can-i-really-audition-coach.html

4) A good coach should be able to advise you about finding a good skate fitter.

It is worth checking out the other rink.  Your first impressions suggest your rink is crap.  However, the problems you are having may be fixable by making friends with the right person, someone who has read their ISI rulebook, knows when the ice is resurfaced, knows the coaches, and knows the good skate fitter/sharpener.

Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2014, 07:43:59 PM »
When I read the OP, I thought all the older coaches were off for the holidays and the high school, college aged kids were all that were left. Same thing with the sam driver.

Holiday LTS is probably not indicative of the rink overall.
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Offline lovemyskater

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2014, 09:32:50 PM »
Thursday we popped over to the other rink to see how far it was, it will be 35 miles each way (oy) - but the person we spoke to was very very helpful (in the middle of a public session) and referred us to the Skating Director, who I will be speaking to tomorrow hopefully (per our email exchange).

I think we will probably end up using the closer rink just for public practice time during the day (we homeschool) and do the drive for lessons etc.

I just couldn't believe everything that was happening, from what I've been reading (Xanboni's blog, IceMom's archives, etc) I was really surprised not to see any rink guards, monitors, etc.  Plenty of instructors milling about (they all had club parkas) but they did nothing about the kids throwing themselves on the ice and into the boards (Is that normal??) and cutting across the middle, etc.

The New Rink has a lot of rules posted and rink guards etc based on my conversation with the Manager there, who had skated at the other rink in the past, she didn't say anything negative about it, but kind of a knowing/understanding look. KWIM?

Thanks for your responses!
We are a new skating family, DD, 8, fell in love during holiday school.

Offline sarahspins

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2014, 11:04:15 PM »
I was really surprised not to see any rink guards, monitors, etc.  Plenty of instructors milling about (they all had club parkas) but they did nothing about the kids throwing themselves on the ice and into the boards (Is that normal??) and cutting across the middle, etc.

This is something that varies a lot from location to location, but in general the coaches aren't being paid to play skate guard.  If they have a job to be doing (coaching, or teaching class) that is what deserves their attention and it is what they will focus on.  If they constantly have to pull away from that to deal with other issues, think about how short-changed whoever they are coaching is going to feel about that.

Secondary to that, if they were off the ice, it's entirely possible that they weren't actually working, or being paid - private coaches pay a commission to the rink for their lesson time, so they're not paid by the rink.  Skate school instructors are only paid for their time on the ice teaching class, so outside of those hours they are basically "off the clock".  I often wear my coaching jacket at the rink when I'm not working because it's warm, and I probably shouldn't, but most coaches do too.  Granted, I am the type of person who will help someone if they obviously need it, but I can also see the other side of that and not wanting to work for "free".  There are a lot of coaches at my rink who feel somewhat jaded in that regard - more is always expected of them than they are fairly compensated for, and as a result there are some who won't do anything outside of what they are paid to do.

I don't say any of this to make excuses for anyone, there is a bit of "rink culture" that you'll gradually pick up, but if there isn't a skate guard present, the correct person to be upset with about that is rink management, not any coaching staff who may be around.

Offline nicklaszlo

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2014, 12:01:07 AM »
the kids throwing themselves on the ice and into the boards (Is that normal??)

No, though some international competitors do it on a regular basis.

Offline Meli

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2014, 12:53:35 AM »
I just couldn't believe everything that was happening, from what I've been reading (Xanboni's blog, IceMom's archives, etc) I was really surprised not to see any rink guards, monitors, etc.  Plenty of instructors milling about (they all had club parkas) but they did nothing about the kids throwing themselves on the ice and into the boards (Is that normal??) and cutting across the middle, etc.

If you were on a public, the kids throwing themselves on the ice and into the boards were likely hockey players.  Cutting across the middle is also pretty common, especially if there is a birthday party going on or you're in the high-traffic weekend or school break public sessions.  Quality of rink monitors will vary, but much of the time they're high school kids and aren't overly confrontational.

If you have the luxury of being able to attend a mid-day public session during the week, those tend to be more civilized.

Offline DressmakingMomma

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2014, 10:45:13 AM »
Our dd took group lessons once a week for a year at a rink 10 minutes from our house. The coaches are very nice, but have a tendency to pass kids up to the next level without requiring true mastery. It is a great rink for those who are skating recreationally, and our older daughter still takes lessons there. They also have a strong hockey program from what I understand. We didn't feel it was the best place for our younger daughter who was showing an intense interest in skating.

We spent the summer rink shopping by signing her up for group lessons at three different places. By the end of the summer we were able to confidently choose a coach and rink for her to begin training more seriously. No rink was necessarily better then the other, but each had a different 'personality' and we needed to find what fit our dd best. Like others have stated, holiday skate sessions can be pretty crazy, so I wouldn't base judgement on just that. I would recommend taking lessons from several places and then choosing what fits best.

BTW, we homeschool also. Our dd's motivating factor for getting school work done efficiently is being able to skate her lunch break at the local rink for a couple of hours. A good week means she skates all five days.  :D

Offline Loops

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2014, 02:02:02 PM »
BTW, we homeschool also. Our dd's motivating factor for getting school work done efficiently is being able to skate her lunch break at the local rink for a couple of hours. A good week means she skates all five days.  :D

Oooh, well played!

I envy you and LoveMySkater as well.  I'd love to homeschool, but know that I just don't have the temperment for it.  Plus it's nearly unknown here, so there's no community either.

All of you are lucky you have rink choices.  The one 10 mins from our house is the only one within 2 hours driving.  I feel lucky that I really like both the skating and hockey clubs and that the general rink culture works for us. 

You've gotten very good advice here.  I don't recall if anyone mentioned it, but if you're thinking about skates, it's very very very worthwhile finding a good fitter.  This is not necessarily going to be the pro-shop at the rink (you're lucky if it is though), you may even need to drive a good way.  Ask around at whichever rink you end up choosing, the other skaters and the coaches.   Buying skates can be daunting, even at the basic levels (probably more-so, since its all new).  Your coaches and a good fitter will be able to navigate you through those waters.

Offline lovemyskater

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2014, 03:11:46 PM »
How do you find somewhere to buy skates?  Rink 1 (the one we've been going to) says they have lots in stock, but I over heard the owner (per the website pic) say that a lot of them are up in the attic and really crammed in there and they can't get to them.  Rink 2 (the new one) the Pro Shop is run by the hockey team and they only have a few skates (a R-band??). 

I've tried googling with little success.  I really don't want to have to drive to Nashville (3 hrs) or Atlanta (4-5hrs)...
We are a new skating family, DD, 8, fell in love during holiday school.

Offline techskater

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2014, 09:01:28 PM »
Reidell.  It's good so long as your skater's foot belongs in it, otherwise, yikes.  You are best off discussing with the skating director where the locals get their boots.

Offline Loops

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2014, 12:31:21 AM »
I'm with techskater.  Ask the coaches and other parents.  You may well find something closer.  But skates are funny beasts, and you really want them to fit well, not "it'll do." Some of us are just unlucky wrt pro-shops- I recently had to drive 5 hours and spend the night even to get them- we made a family trip out of it. 

If she's just starting then there's no hurry, so you have time to do some research.  When you decide to take that plunge and get skates, you really do want to work with someone who knows their stuff, even if it means a long drive. 


Offline DressmakingMomma

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2014, 12:44:50 PM »
If you want to know lots about skate fitting I recommend Mr. Edge's book, "Anatomy of a Figure Skating Injury". He has tons of great information all about skate fitting, breaking in skates, maintenance, and blade selection. He was the only one able to successfully fit our daughter's feet after multiple failed attempts by other skate shops. He has quite a few articles and links posted on his website as well, just google Mr. Edge and his site should come up.

Our daughter wore rentals to start with, then a pair of used skates which probably didn't fit very well from Play it Again sports. Those skates got her though most of the basic levels just fine before she started feeling unstable, had foot pain, and we needed to get her better skates. Good Luck!

Offline WaltzJump413

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Re: A lot of questions about our first rink experience...
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2014, 11:04:20 PM »
I know this is a bit late, but welcome to the forums, lovemyskater!

P.S. I was homeschooled, too--all the way from K-12. DressmakingMomma, I love the way your DD "earns" skating time by getting her work done! :)
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