Learn to Skate

Develop basic skating skills with the Learn to Skate program

Ice skating is a great way to stay physically fit and have FUN!  The Learn to Skate program offers a range of classes that suits everyone’s needs from age 3 through adult.  The program is a stepping stone to learning the skills necessary for recreational skating, more advanced figure skating, and hockey.

Download the Basic Skills registration form

The Traverse City Figure Skating Club’s Learn to Skate program follows the curriculum of United States Figure Skating (USFS) – the national governing body for figure skating in the U.S.  This Basic Skills Program is designed by U.S. Figure Skating to be the best beginning ice skating program that serves the needs of both the recreational and competitive skater. The curriculum is designed to keep skaters enthusiastic about learning from the time they begin lessons until the time they reach their goals.

An overview and description of all levels of the USFS Basic Skills program can be found at http://www.usfigureskating.org/content/BS-overview.pdf.  Whether the goal is to achieve Olympic fame or simply to enjoy the recreational benefits of skating, the Basic Skills Program is the place to start!

The schedule includes classes for all skill levels beginning with the skater who has never been on the ice before through those who may know the basics of skating forward and backward but who want to learn some beginning jumps and spins.  A schedule of current classes offered is available in the club office or online at www.goFigureTC.org/forms.

TCFSC Basic Skills Skating Classes/Levels:

Snowplow Sam Classes are for the 3-5 yr old skater with little or no skating experience. This introductory class teaches basic balance and skating skills in an age-appropriate and fun manner. The class consists of a 30-minute lesson with a number of instructors.  Helmets are required.
Basic Skills Classes are grouped lessons based on skating skills.  There are eight levels in the program and these levels will introduce the skater to the fundamentals of skating.  The skills in each level with build upon skills from previous levels. The skater will work on forward and backward skating, stops, edges, crossovers, spins, and jumps.  Each skater will receive an official USFS book explaining the required skating elements of each level.  After mastering all of the elements within a level your skater will be tested and will be eligible to purchase a badge for each level passed.  These classes will consist of a 30-minute group lesson with an instructor and then a 20-minute bridge/practice time.
Bridge Time/Practice Time is a 20-minute practice time for your skater to improve their skating skills.  During this time your skater may practice independently OR you may arrange for a 10-minute private lesson with an instructor to help your skater move along faster through the program.  If you are interested a list of instructors can be obtained in the club office or from the TCFSC newsletter.  No bars, parents, pucks or hockey sticks allowed on the ice during this time.
Advanced Beginner Classes are for skaters in Basic 4 and above. The program includes a variety of free skating (jumps & spins), moves in the field, ice dance, and choreography.  This offers your skater an introduction to all of the skating elements required if they choose to pursue a recreational or competitive skating career.  This is a 30-minute group class with two instructors.

Private Instruction

We are often asked by parents, “How can I obtain private skating lessons for my child?”  Visit our Skating Club Pros page for a list of all Senior, Junior, and Assistant level coaches with their phone numbers or pick-up a list in the Club office at Centre Ice Arena. You can simply contact one of the coaches (we recommend coming and observing a session or two during TCFSC low freestyle skating sessions to help you determine who may be a good fit) and then set up private lesson time.  Private lesson fees vary so be sure to ask what the coach’s rate is.

For skaters in level Basic 4 and below, these lessons can be done on the 20 minute bridge time after your basic skills lesson.  For skaters in Basic 5 and above, this can be done on either the bridge time following your lesson or on a TCFSC Low Freestyle session or an Open session (additional fees will apply, please see our Membership section for details).

Frequently Asked Questions

What class should my 3-5 year old sign up for if they have never skated?
Snowplow Sam

What is Snowplow Sam?
This section of the program is designed for those skaters not ready to begin at the Basic 1 level.  This class is for 3-5 year old children who require a little extra attention to help them feel more comfortable on the ice.  After completing Snowplow Sam, the skater will then advance to Basic 1.

What class should my 6-18 year old sign up for if they have never skated?
Basic 1

If my child wants to play hockey and does not want to be a figure skater, what class do I sign up for?

Snowplow Sam (depending on age) or Basic 1 class covers all of the important basic fundamentals of skating for hockey as well as figure skating.

What should the skaters wear?

  • Dress warmly, but allow for freedom of movement.  As your skater progresses, form-fitting clothes that stretch are better than tight, restrictive or oversized clothes that restrict movement.  An instructor/coach needs to see a skater’s body alignment to give proper advice and feedback about technique, so form-fitting clothing that allows for movement is better.
  • Mittens or gloves should be worn.
  • Pants should not be excessively long or have a wide flare.
  • Helmets are required for our Snowplow Sam classes.  Bicycle helmets are permitted.
  • New skates need to be sharpened before the first day of class.
  • Make sure skates are securely tied.  Laces should be snug through the ankle area, but allow for some flexibility.
  • No gum chewing is allowed on the ice.


What should we do when we arrive?

Sign in at the registration desk where you will be given a colored pass to get on the ice. We recommend arriving 10-15 minutes before your class begins to be sure you have enough time to sign in and properly put your skates on.

Where do we meet?
All skaters should line up against the boards to get on the ice. Colored posters are lined up against back boards of the arena; skaters should proceed to the class color indicated on their pass and give their pass to their instructor.

What should parents do while class is in session?

  • Parents are asked to watch from the stands or from the outside lobby.
  • Please do not stand in the area by the door or walk onto the ice!
  • Parents are not permitted to stand by the player’s benches.
  • Parents should not pick up skaters and carry them with their skates on!

Instruction/Practice Ice-Bridge Time
Practice ice is available for Learn To Skate participants only.  Parents and siblings are not allowed on the ice.  Skaters must be able to skate on their own to utilize the practice ice. Practice ice will be monitored by a staff member.  See class list for specific class and practice times.

How does a skater move up through the levels?

Skaters are evaluated during the mid-point of each session.  They will receive an evaluation form marking their progress.  When a skater completes a level, badges are available in the club office for $1.00.  It is not unusual for skaters to repeat a class two or more times.  Skills taught build upon each other, and to move a skater up before they master a skill only makes skating more difficult.  If a child misses this class, they will receive their evaluation the last week of classes.

Can we rent or buy skates at Centre Ice?

  • Rental skates will be available at Centre Ice for a nominal fee
  • New and used skates can be purchased through Stephanie Miller (instructor); please see her for more details.
  • Skate sharpening – please see Laurent Massé (TCFSC Director)
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