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Author Topic: What makes an enjoyable freestyle session?  (Read 1225 times)

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Offline Neverdull44

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What makes an enjoyable freestyle session?
« on: September 17, 2015, 10:55:01 AM »
What rules do your rink have for freestyle ice?

Who?  Who is allowed on the ice?  Is there a minimum skating ability?  Are there separate sessions for axel/higher levels?  Anyone with a toe pick allowed on the ice? 

What?   What are the right of way rules? Are they posted in the rink or website, handed to newbies?  Are skaters doing their program required to wear a brightly colored sash to help differentiate them?

Where?   I've heard some rinks have suggested areas to repeatedly practice certain moves?  The "lutz" and jumping corners, spins in the center.     Do you regulate where parents can & cannot sit (i.e. no sideline parent coaching)?

When?  Do you have early morning and afternoon sessions that  help kids attend brick-n-mortem schools?  Do you have sessions that abut Learn to Skate that make it conducive for lower level skaters to get practice ice?  Are there problems with some skaters not being able to play their music, do you have rules on taking turns with music, or is it just amicably worked out?

How much?   What is the cost?  Do club members pay less?   Do upper level sessions cost more since they could be limited to a lower number of skaters?

Why?   What are the best and worst rules you've encountered, and why?

Offline TreSk8sAZ

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Re: What makes an enjoyable freestyle session?
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2015, 01:13:16 PM »
Answers in purple.

What rules do your rink have for freestyle ice?

Depends on the session. We have Open (which means anyone Basic 6 and above, below Basic 6 must have a coach present with them), Juv-Sr, Int-Sr, and Elite. Mostly the last two are during the summer, during the school year it's generally Juv-Sr for the high freestyles. We also have specialty, which is an on-ice class for skaters FS4 and up.

Rules are posted on our online ice contract website as well as at the rink. Skaters in program must wear a belt (neon green sash), and they have right of way. Skaters in lesson come next, followed by everyone else. Dancers and pairs teams also must wear the belt during program, and usually the girl wears it.

Generally speaking, the idea is spins in the middle, jumps on the ends, dance and MITF down the sides. This isn't always followed or enforced, however, and it drives us crazy to no end when coaches plop their basic skills/low freeskate skater in the lutz corner to work on crossovers or spins, and stay there for half an hour.

Parents are not allowed near the ice. They may sit in the bleachers or in the lobby. There is NO coaching allowed by parents, and if the child keeps going over to the glass or talking to them from the bleachers, either the parent can get kicked out or the skater can be asked to leave the session. Mainly this is a safety issue - when the kids stand and talk to their parents over the glass, they usually aren't watching behind them and there have been some collisions, especially when they stand 3 feet back from the boards in the lane of traffic.

We have Open FS sessions starting at either 5 or 6 a.m., and they go through the morning until around 11 a.m. Afternoon freestyles are split - Juv-Sr on one rink starting at 1:30 and going through 4, Open on another starting at 1:45 and going through 5:15 or 6, depending on the day. Learn to Skate starts after the last freestyle, and LTS skaters also get passes to practice on public.

We use the RinkMusic system. It loads a queue of skaters programs in the order they are swiped. Coaches may bump a skater using their coach fob. A skater whose music has not been played will bump a skater who has gone before in the session.

(At my other rink that I skate at once a week, there is a Coach, Coach, Skater system. On busy days the line is written in marker, on less crowded days you just verbally make the line).

How much?   
The rink runs the sessions, not the club, so no discount there. We run on a monthly contract system. You input your contract by the 25th of the previous month. If you do so, you get the discounted rates - $9 for the 5 a.m., $10 for 45 minutes, $12 for 60 minutes, and $15 for 75 minutes. If you want to drop in or do your sessions after the 25th, then it is $14 regardless of the length or time of the session. Everyone pays the same cost regardless of skating level.

I personally like the traffic flow rules, as I can't stand when you're trying to do program and someone is spinning in the middle of nowhere where jump patterns inevitably end up. I do wish they would up the level a bit above Basic 6 for Open sessions, but realistically it's not just those kids that don't watch for others.

I LOVE the belt rule for running program. There is no question then whose music is playing, especially early in the season when everyone gets new programs. The other rink I skate at doesn't have a belt, and I can't tell you how many kids watch you come at them and even if you say "Excuse Me", they simply don't move.

It wasn't mentioned above, but we also have a dress code for freestyle sessions. Hair must be neat and off the face, no crop-tops or sports bra type tops, no jeans, etc. Most of the kids respect it, and it is enforced.

I really can't think of any "Worst" rules. Really, the rules are pretty fair and are consistently enforced, so it never seems to be a problem.

Offline icepixie

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Re: What makes an enjoyable freestyle session?
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2015, 07:26:47 PM »
What rules do your rink have for freestyle ice?

None, really.  It's pleasant anarchy. :)

I skate at two rinks, and all of their freestyles are open to everyone.  We even have a coach who teaches hockey skills take students on freestyle ice.  Some of the kids have doubles, but basic skills through singles are most common.  I started skating on freestyle rather than public when I was in Alpha group classes.  I think the third rink that's further out of town, where I never go, has sessions divided by ability.  All of the higher level people skate out there.

There might be right-of-way rules buried on the rinks' websites somewhere, but I think people just osmose from their coaches and peers.  Most people seem to spin in the center and jump in the corners.  Everyone's pretty good about giving right of way to folks in lessons or doing programs or dances.  Some coaches will stake out a spot, typically near the boards along one of the blue lines, and do their lessons there, while others will move all over.

No sashes for programs, but it's a small enough community that after a while you can memorize who's doing what music this year.  I've not gotten to the point of doing a program yet, but from what I can tell people just go up to the sound system, plug in their ipod/phone/CD, and do what they need to do.  (A lot of sessions only have 4-5 people on them or even fewer, not all of whom are at the point of doing a program.  Saturday mornings are a little busier at 8-12 people.  I've skated 7 AM sessions where I was the only one there.)

Between the two rinks we have early and mid-morning, afternoon, and into the evening (ending at 5:45) sessions most weekdays, Saturday mornings when there isn't a hockey tournament, and Sunday afternoons.  I can't complain about the ice times, especially since I work right across the street from one rink and can typically make the last evening session after work.  That rink sells ice time in 45-minute increments, and if you buy the biggest package ( = discount) it's a little over $4 a pop.  At the other rink, you pay one fee per session whether it's an hour or three hours.  It's kind of weird.  With the biggest package, each session costs $7.50.  (I usually skate there on Sunday afternoons for an hour, which works out to not too much more than what an hour of ice time at the other rink, were that to exist, would cost.  Also it has ice on Sundays, which nowhere else in town has, so that alone makes the higher price worth it.)  Both rinks are municipally-funded, so those prices are for in-county residents.  Yay for my tax dollars at work!

I think our laid-back approach works for us.  I don't know that trying to institute rules would improve things, although there are certainly a few kids I can think of who could use a stern talking to about watching where they're going.  Dividing sessions by skill level is a non-starter; the rinks would never make any money and lots of ice would go unused.

Offline mamabear

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Re: What makes an enjoyable freestyle session?
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2015, 09:56:09 AM »
Each year, my coach has me sign an agreement that I understand the rules of skating on freestyle and there are some references to public as well. 

Who-Our rink is not divided by skill levels-it sounds like we are similar to icepixie in that we don't have enough skating to make that work.  In general-there are usually 2-3 basic skill level skaters who have a lesson and continue to practice.  My daughter has been practicing several days a week since Basic 4 on freestyle ice and there are a couple of others who practiced pretty regularly since basic (most have moved onto Freestyle)

What-there are no belts.  I have a good idea who is using what music at this point.   There is also a list of rules posted on the hockey plexiglass that includes throwing away your tissues and getting up quickly if you fall.  I think people slowly edging around the wall are more likely to read this list than people practicing on freestyle.

Where-spins in the middle, jumps at the ends and moves either at the very end or sides.  Um, I think my coach just did my lesson this week in the lutz corner-back 3's.  I should probably feel guilty about this!  I don't think there is a rule prohibiting parents from standing at the side although I don't see it actually happen much.  I do see a few parents come to public and stand in the doorway-kid goes out, does a couple of skills and comes back for instructions, whining, drink-I really have no idea but something. 

When-early morning sessions (5:45-7:45) just started this summer during the week.  Saturday is 8:15-10:45 and I know there is a Sunday morning session but we don't skate that.   There are also afternoon sessions from 3:45-5:15.  LTS gets a pass for public skate.  I'm guessing that isn't that helpful for practice though since public sessions usually early afternoon (noon-3:30).  I love practicing on public because it's usually quite empty during the school year and is a break from work but I can't imagine it's that convenient for most LTS families.  There is a Monday afternoon public 3:30-5, a Friday  night 7:00-8:30 I think and then Saturday and Sunday afternoons.   Music-this seems to be a first come, first serve system.  Every now and then I'll hear complaints that someone plays music too much or jumped in front of someone but that doesn't seem to happen often.

How much-there is a monthly pass option for $150 or single sessions are $10 for hour sessions and $15 (I think) for 1.5 hour sessions.  You can also buy a punchcard where you get 11 sessions for the price of 10.  Same price for everyone. 

I can't really think of a worst rule-it seems to work okay.  I was frustrated when the front desk would ask for a long time-do you have a punchcard?  I had asked if there was some advantage and was told no, it was just easier for the kid skaters to not carry money.  Then I was told that you got the 11th session free.   A costly miscommunication.

Offline celia

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Re: What makes an enjoyable freestyle session?
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2015, 09:20:01 AM »
Low Freestyle = working on FS 1-4 (+ Alpha-Delta if on a lesson)
High Freestyle = working on FS 5+ or Pre-Juve moves+ 
Open = combined

What - No rules posted anywhere I've ever seen - physically or digitally.  Everyone seems to observe though (maybe coaches tell people?) no hanging out in lutz corners, spins in center.  No belts but program has right of way followed by lessons.  I've never seen a parent coaching from sidelines.  They sit on benches or bleachers behind the hockey glass.

When - early morning starting at 5am + afternoon after school sessions + weekend sessions, lots all throughout the school/workday too.  there's an open level "coffee club" at a discount at 10am.  LTS skaters get free pass to public immediately following.  No rules about music, everyone seems to work it out

How much:  rink ice : $27 per 50 minute freestyle session, 10% off with 10 pass card; club ice limited to club members only : $35 per 50 minute freestyle session, 10% off with 10 pass card; public $10 per 3 hour session

Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: What makes an enjoyable freestyle session?
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2015, 10:58:18 AM »
No Basic Skills skaters on the ice unless: 1.Accompanied by a coach, 2. Approved by the Skating Director

Everyone (including coaches) has to sign off on rink etiquette rules. If the skater is too young to comprehend the rules then the skating director has to figure out how to handle it. Those little fast clueless kids are dangerous to themselves and to others.

Rule number 1: Be Polite.

Rule number 2: Priority: In program with music, with the belt on (but should skate around weaker skaters who can't get out of the way), Skaters in Lessons. Dancers trump everyone, but they shouldn't act like it's a dance session. If there are so many dance couples that they need a dance session, then that's a scheduling problem.

Rule number 3: The world does not orbit around your ass. It's not the end of the world if you have to modify a program/dance laydown/figure/MITF.  If the test is tomorrow and you get all huffy about how you're going to fail because some skater cut you off then maybe you're not ready to test.

Rule 4: Be Polite.

Rule 5. You are not allowed on the ice unless you pay and sign in. (My rink had some borderline cheating/open cheating/ unidentified cheating on payments. It's a little hazy, but now they'll take you off the ice and ban you for a period of time if you get caught not paying, so it must have been something.)

Rule 6. Skating director's need to keep an eye on coaches who tell their skaters to skate right over people. Depending on the skater and the coach, this can be harmless encouragement to out right bullying of other skaters (I've heard a couple of bad stories from other rinks)

Rule 7. Freestyle sessions have personalities. Skating directors know this and if the rink doesn't have enough sessions open for High vs Low, they could at least post "This session has a preponderance of fast moving, high level skaters. Camping out on circles, practicing spins in the same spot over and over, and other fixed practice habits are discouraged. This is a session where you will need to keep moving." or "This session attracts low level skaters, high level skaters are asked to be courteous and keep an eye out for other skaters not at their skill level."

Rule 8. Be polite

I've got no problem with a coach teaching a hockey player on freestyle. I see this all the time. However at my rink, as soon as the lesson is over, the skater has to depart the ice. I think this is fair. The hockey skater doesn't know the rules of freestyle etiquette and should understand he's there as a guest, it's not a skating practice session for hockey.

Here's my thoughts on my blog.

Yes I'm in with the 90's. I have a skating blog.

Offline DressmakingMomma

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Re: What makes an enjoyable freestyle session?
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2015, 01:08:28 PM »
Great rink with great coaches, great kids, affordable, and well-cared for ice with clean facilities.

Anybody is allowed on the ice, thought I haven't seen a hockey player during freestyle.

No rules posted. The unspoken rule is that lower level yield to higher level skaters; they have the right of way unless somebody is running through a program. Everybody yields to a coach giving a lesson.

Spins tend to happen in the middle. No specific corners for jumps.

Freestyle on weekdays from roughly 6:30am - 5pm (some days till 6:30) with exception of a 9-11am break on Wednesdays for maintenance and a public skate from 12:30-2 everyday. No ice on the weekends. Dd is home-schooled so she skates during the day when there is never more then 5 skaters and often she is the only one on the ice. It gets crowded after 3:00 pm but not terrible.

Price is amazing for our geographical location (where many rinks are $15-18/hour). Contract = $4/hour or $100 for unlimited freestyle/month.

We have quite a few rinks to choose from within a 45 minute drive with three that are closer to our house then dd's (hockey is huge here). We drive about 40 minutes each way, totally worth it!