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FAQ


My skater or myself have completed the CanSkate program. What next? 

When you have completed the CanSkate program, you will have the skating skills to enjoy skating on a recreational basis. Skaters may choose to continue to other Skate Canada programming hosted at GTSA including STARSkate (the figure skating test program) or CanPowerSkate (hockey skills).

If you wish to pursue figure skating competitively, please inquire about or Pre-Star program. Skaters viewed as suitable for the program may be selected prior to the completion of CanSkate and moved into a Pre-Star group for more enriched and specific development and skill acquisition for the sport of figure skating. CanSkate badges may still be tested periodically in the Pre-Star class.

What happens if my child has to miss a skating class?

GTSA is not responsible for classes you cannot attend. Each class is purchased as is and is not subject to make up classes should you not be able to attend. Missing too many classes may make it challenge for the skate to properly be evaluated by the coach potentially resulting in the skater not being awarded a report card at the end of the season. Some coaches evaluate on specific chosen days as they like to spend the majority of their time teaching and working on skills rather than evaluating.

Due to registration constraints, GTSA is unable to provide make-up classes. Refunds will only be provided for medical reasons and must have a medical note from a doctor. Please see our policy page for more details.

I notice my skater is faster than other skaters in his/her group. Why aren’t they moving up? 

Coaches evaluate skills and give checkmarks for acquired skills in the CanSkate or Pre-Star programs. Usually, it is the case that while a child may be performing well at some skills, they have not yet sufficiently mastered other skills. If a skater does not learn all of the skills at each level, it may result in the missed skills impacting their advancement in the future. In Pre-Star, many of the skills have parts which must be learned as fundamentals to skating. These steps or processes to each skating element can be picky and very detail oriented. A coach wants to see that the skills are properly learned before passing the badge or giving a certificate. A coach may work on several badge levels in the same lesson with the same group. A Coach may also review skills from previous stages to obtain more quality or detail or to show how the skater as improved.  Challenge skills from future badges are sometimes introduced for motivation.

Who are the younger “coaches” that are out there helping my skater?

These are skilled competitive skaters within GTSA. These skaters on the ice are known as Program Assistants or PA’s. Their responsibility is to assist the skaters and help the coach with the group. They are there to motivate encourage and help the skaters as the partake in the coach’s lesson.

Neither the coach nor the PA are expected to hold up the skater repeatedly throughout a class or force a skater to skate if they do not wish.  The skater must be self motivated to partake in class.

How are group classes organized?

When you filled out the registration form, we took the information you provided and placed the skater in the group we believe best suited the skater’s needs. This can be based on class chosen, or by skill level. The skaters of the same badge, working on the same skills will be grouped together for instruction.

Fitting new skaters into groups is done by the directors at the beginning of the first session of each season. Please be patient as adjustments may need to be made throughout the season. Skaters improve at different rates and a skater may need to move into a different group. This is to best assist a skaters chance to learn and also make them as comfortable as possible on the ice. Often skaters who excel will be moved up to a stronger group where they will be more challenged. Likewise, skaters who need more time at a level may be moved to a group where they will be more at a pace comfortable for their skating. Skaters should not feel bad about moving groups as it can be part of skating.

What kind of helmet should I buy? 

When shopping for a helmet please consider:

  • Hockey helmets are the best suited for skaters. CSA approved hockey helmets are mandatory for all CanSkate participants up to Stage 5. Permission must be given and Stage 5 properly attained before a skater can skate without the use of a helmet. This is a Skate Canada and GTSA policy and is in place for the safety and wellbeing of the skaters on the ice. Hockey helmets provide protection for the sides and the back of the head. A hockey helmet with a visor or cage  that also protects the skater’s face from the ice and anything else that poses a threat is strongly encouraged.
  • Bicycle helmets are strictly prohibited on the ice as they do not provide the necessary protection needed for skating.  Bicycle helmets do not provide adequate protection for the back and sides of the head and do not comply with Skate Canada or GTSA’s policy.
  • Ski or skateboard helmets are also not permitted. These helmets protect the sides and back of the head, but cannot be fitted with a visor or cage to protect the face.
  • A poor-fitting helmet will slide around on the head making it uncomfortable to wear and can shift on impact  of a fall which may result is worsening any potential injury.

Please note that you may be denied the right to skate if you do not have a helmet that complies with the Skate Canada helmet use policy.

Does my child have to wear a helmet? 

As per Skate Canada’s helmet regulations for CanSkate programs, skaters must have a CSA approved hockey helmet. All skaters (CanSkate and Adult participants) must wear a helmet on the ice until a GTSA director can determine them as being able to skate comfortably passing a CanSkate badge 5 evaluation. This Skate Canada policy is enforced during all skating activities including competitions or any other special on ice activities throughout the season for this level of skater.

Although optional, helmets with cages / face guards are highly recommended for young skaters and beginning skaters of all ages. This is for further protection against blades and mishaps that may occur at the beginning stages of skating.

Please note that skaters who do not have a proper fitting CSA approved hockey helmet will NOT be allowed on the ice do to safety and liability concerns.

Who should I trust to sharpen my skates? 

Sporting goods stores and arena pro shops are adequate for sharpening hockey skates. Under no circumstance is it recommended that skates be sharpened in a machine. This may result in the blade being ruined. Always trust a professional with your blade.

These stores should not be used for sharpening figure skates due to the meticulous precision needed to tend the blade. The machines used at these shops will take too much off at the front and back of the blade and may alter the “rocker” of the blade, changing the balance point of the blade dramatically. This will result in the blade no longer being suitable for the skills being acquired and  may cause you to need to spend more money.

There have been instances where a salesperson may recommend the sharpening off of the bottom toe pick of a figure skate blade for a beginner skater. This is definitely not a good idea and will result in the blade being  rendered completely useless for figure skating. The toe picks are important for maintaining proper balance and posture. If needed, ask for a recommendation on where to have your figure skates sharpened.

How often should my skates be sharpened?

A good guideline for skate sharpening is to have the blades sharpened every 30 to 50 hours of ice time. How well blades are taken care of can positively or negatively affect the need for sharpening. Skaters may also have their own personal preference of how sharp they like their blades.

Some methods to cut down on the need to sharpen your blades include:

  • Use of guards when walking off the ice
  • Walking across non-rubberized surfaces are highly detrimental to the longevity of the blade. Continuous practice of this will result in the blade not being suitable for use causing you to need to get a new blade.
  • After use, skates should be aired out to dry (not kept in the bag) this will reduce mold in the boot and rust on the blade. Failing to wipe blades dry and/or leaving plastic guards on the blades can result in rust forming on the bottom of the blades, which will cause loss of the edge while skating.
  • When getting on the ice, skaters should avoid stepping on the plastic section where the door secures shut. This can dull the blade or the metal screws on this surface can chip the blade.

A tried and true test for blade sharpness is to scrape a thumb nail against but not along the blade. If the blade shaves small shavings of the nail, it is sharp; if the blade does not, it might be time to get a new sharpening. Remember there are two edges to the blade and it is a good idea to check both for sharpness and nicks regularly.

If you have a test or competition or important skating event coming up soon, please get them sharpened one to two weeks before the event. This allows skaters enough time to get used to the sharpening. Avoid getting blades sharpened just prior to the event. If there is an issue, it does not provide enough time to rectify the situation.

 What clothing is best for skating classes?

Due to the climate of the arena, skaters should dress appropriately for class. Skaters may be cold in the skating arena atmosphere. It is important the skater focus on learning and not on trying to stay warm.

Clothing should not restrict the skaters ability to move or participate in class. The needs of the clothing to have more range of motion and mobility will increase as the technical ability of the skater increases. Typically the more active the skater, the warmer the get allowing for fewer layers. As a general rule, layers can be more useful than bulk as this can restrict movement: fleece to insulate and nylon to wick moisture is a good combination. Bulky snow suits can limit a skater because they make it too difficult for a skater to get up after a fall, often requiring assistance from the coach. This is ok in Pre-CanSkate when the spend a lot of time on the ice. Snowsuits should be avoided after this level.

Jeans are not recommended: the cotton in the jeans absorbs and holds moisture.

Scarves are prohibited due to a chocking hazard.

Gloves or mittens are mandatory in all Pre-CanSkate, and CanSkate classes. Gloves are preferring as skaters increase in level, specifically in Pre-Star as the fingers need to be seen.

There are so many types of skates. Which one is best for me?

It is imperative that skates provide adequate support around the ankle. This is to avoid injury.

A skate will be manufactured to have stiff leather inserts between the outer and inner layers of the boot. Older skates may lack this stiffness as they breakdown. These skates may need replacing. This is very unlikely in the early stages of skating as the skater will likely grow out of the skate prior to the skate breaking down. If the skater is planning on taking skating lessons in a used pair of skate, please verify that the skates are not too broken down from the previous owner’s use or abuse.

Things to look for when buying new skates:

  • When tied up, and the laces are snug, the boot should be a continuation of the leg. This promotes proper alignment on the ice. If the skater’s ankles lean inward or outward, the skater will have difficulty balancing (particularly on one foot). This is a problem with the equipment and will have a direct impact on the skater’s ability to skate and improve at an appropriate pace. This also may lead to injury long term as stress will be placed on the foot as well as other joints in the body.
  • Moulded plastic skates are not recommended. They provide a lot of support but they cannot be ‘broken in’.  The boot does not bend allowing for the proper range of motion for the skills and teaching progressions required in the classes. Skaters should be able to bend their ankles enough to allow the knees to be over the toes.  The plastic skates with buckles instead of laces may be convenient but they run the risk of coming undone potentially resulting in a fall or the frustration of the skater.

  • The fit of the skate is crucial to its usage. Skates should fit more snugly than regular shoes, particularly around the heel. For a skate to fit properly, it will have wiggle room at the toe, but not enough for the foot to be moving in the skate. This can result in blisters, or bunions or other foot problems. These will cause the skater pain and will decrease the enjoyment of skating.  The heel should not move at all in the skate. The ball of the foot is an important balance point in the skate and should be well fit within the boot. This ensures the proper positioning of the arch and is important for both comfort and balance.  The front opening of the boot should be sufficiently wide to pull the laces tight. The tongue should be sturdy enough so that it will stay in place, preventing laces from cutting into the foot.

  • Skates that are too small will be uncomfortable for skaters and their feet will tend to get cold very quickly in skates they have outgrown. Skates that are too big do not provide sufficient ankle support and may even cause blisters or other foot problems due to the rubbing of the foot against the boot.

  • Skates are meant to be worn with a thin pair of socks within the boot. Some skaters prefer barefoot skating, however this is preference and can sometimes result in infected blisters. You may think that thick or extra socks are a good idea to fill up the space in a skate that the skater has not yet grown into. When the skater presses against the boot, the extra thickness compresses and the skate doesn’t provide the needed support and the skater may develop foot problems. It is not a good idea to buy skates that are too big so they will last another season.

When tying a skate, it is recommended to tie the boot of the skate tightly over the toe and slightly looser but still snug over the ankle. The skater must be able to bend, but the laces should not be able to move too much if tugged. Laces should be hooked securely with sufficient tension to permit one finger down the back of the boot in the direction of the heel. Laces should be long enough to be tied in a double bow and tucked in so that they will not trip the skater.

It is important to note that a new pair of skates must have the blade sharpened before use . An unsharpened skate has a flat surface on the bottom of the blade. The blade will not grip the ice and the skater will not have adequate control. It will easily slide sideways when the skater tries to push. When sharpened, the sharpening stone grinds a concave contour which produces the two ‘edges’ (Inside and outside) that dig into the ice resulting in the ability to skate.

 

Please do not assume every sales person will be aware of this detail depending on the store you purchase your equipment at.

 Which kind of skates should I buy for skating classes? 

The CanSkate Program is designed for figure or hockey skates.  For a first time skater, this decision of what type of skate to wear is not super critical, but definitely something to consider.  The most important factor is the quality of the skate and support of the boot.  Please ensure the skate has adequate support for the skill level of the skater. Ask a skate specialist at a knowledgable store for assistance, if needed.

For Power Skating Program, hockey skates are recommended.

For the Pre-Star Program, figure skates are required. It is recommended you use skates from the Figure Skating Boutique or second hand figure skates with adequate support.

Please do not use blades with double runners as this will affect a skaters ability to learn.

 How do I change private coaches? 

The relationship between coach and skater can have its highs and lows. Usually, a discussion can be had to help get everyone on the same page or to address concerns / issues. Plateaus can be normal in a skaters development and should be discussed with the coach. Differences of opinion, and other difficulties also constitute a discussion. When necessary, a change can be the only solution.  Changing coaches is not an easy situation, but there are a few things you can do to ease the process:

  • Have a discussion with the coach about your concerns or the issues. It is not required that you give the reason for the coaching change, but it is considered courteous.
  • Finalize payment on any outstanding invoices. Please inquire with the coach if any invoices have been left unpaid. An ethical new coach will not take on a skater who has an outstanding debt with another coach and will email the previous coach to confirm invoices are paid. It is your responsibility to finalize the terms with the previous coach.

Please see the Professional Coaches’ Code of Ethics for details on how coaches are supposed to handle coaching changes.

 How do I choose a private coach? 

It is important to note that, you (the skater or parent) must make the initial contact to inquire about a skating coach for private lessons. For skaters wanting to pursue the competitive skating route, this should be done in the Pre-Star class when you feel the skater is ready. Skaters may wish to skate multiple days a week and it is encouraged for improvement to be at the pace for competitive skating. Coaches are not allowed to recruit students or solicit them for business. The best time to catch a coach is before or after a session; please don’t interrupt them during group or private lessons.

An integral part of the key to success for a skater is the relationship between the coach, parent, and skater. Coaches have various teaching styles. Some may have different specialties. At GTSA, we strive to have a coaching staff who can cater to all client’s skating needs. These of course must be attained on the appropriate session for the skill level and ability of the skater.

Some coaches may be more patient and explanatory, others will be more strict and demanding. Please share your wants and needs with the office as we can help guide you and your needs.  Skaters have different goals and/or different preferences for learning. When the coach and skater have a good working relationship, lessons can be productive and more enjoyable.

There is no guaranteed method for choosing the skating instructor who will be most suitable for any particular skater. However, there are some things you can do to increase the probability of success:

  • Inquire about the coaches’ resumes. Many coaches have a skating specialty: for example, harness work, spins, choreography, or jumps. At GTSA, many of our coaching staff believes in team coaching. This means the skaters may have a coaching team to cover all the aspects of  figure skating.  This is typically more preferable in athletes striving to compete at the higher levels of the sport. Coaches may have a specific avenue of skating they prefer to teach; competitive skating or test stream, based off Skate Canada tests.

  • Watch coaches teaching other skaters and the skaters they are teaching.  Observing can give you a lot of information.

  • Ask your child if there is a particular coach they would like. Ask other skaters who their coach is. Ask parents for their recommendations based on their experience in the sport.

  • Talk to the coach. Please try to speak with the instructor when he or she is not conducting a lesson or preparing to begin a lesson.  If this is not possible, our office staff can arrange for a coach to contact you.

How does a coach invoice for private lessons?

When you arrange private instruction, their are two costs. Ice time must be paid for use of the arena. Payments may be made to GTSA. If using ticket ice, please refer to our ticket ice page. The coach will bill for their instruction, typically on a monthly basis. Coaches have their own hourly rate for private lessons. Please ask them about their preferred method of payment. Any questions you have should be asked to the coach prior to the lesson to avoid any confusion. The coach will invoice for their time.

Any communication about feedback, problems, or absences should be handled directly with the skating coach. Make sure you know your coach’s policy on missed lessons. A coach may invoice for a missed lesson if you do not give appropriate notice.

I am interested in privates lessons: What do I do?

Please email the office. We would be happy to assist you based on your needs and coach availability. If you have a coach in mind, let us know and we will see if that coach is available.  Please let us know:

  • the times you have available for lessons
  • the age and ability of the skater
  • and length of the lesson desired

I want to learn to skate, but there are so many options. Which class is right for me? 

Greater Toronto Skating Academy offers classes suitable for your own skating goals.

Parent and Tot – A class designed for young children seeking the assistance of the parent or guardian. Both must be members of Skate Canada for insurance reasons. The parent or guardian is not taught how to skate by the instructor but is there to support the child and make them feel more comfortable on the ice. This class is suggested for a skater who may experience separation anxiety or a parent who might be more comfortable assisting the child on their first steps on the ice.

Pre-Canskate – This class is for skaters who are first beginning on the ice. Skaters are taught by a coach and assisted by program assistants (PA’s). Skaters may spend most of their time on the ice with the goal of trying to stand and take their first steps. Once up and going, it gets a bit faster. Skaters may sometimes take a while to get comfortable with the ice. Please be patient and encourage them to get up and get going!

CanSkate – Skate Canada’s grassroots skating program. Skaters learn various skills in the fundamentals of Balance, Agility and Control. Skaters are grouped by skill level or age appropriateness. Skaters earn badges as they meet criteria and attain skill. Coaches are assisted by program assistants (PA’s).

CanPower Skate – This is for skaters wanting that edge before going into hockey. This can also be for hockey players to improve their game. Skaters will learn to be more agile, learn about the technical side of skating and its theory, and gain more power by properly utilizing the stroke.

Pre-Star – This program is geared towards skaters having the goal of competing in figure skating. Skaters exiting this program will be ready for Skate Canada competitions! This program is unique to GTSA and teaches the fundamentals of figure skating. Concepts taught in this program will be used to teach more complex skating moves. After this program, skaters will be able to customize a skating routine based off the skills they have learned.

What are the blackout dates?

The blackout dates are dates when the arena does not have ice due to an event or other circumstance. Being a large 4 pad complex, there are often tournaments or other events within the building. GTSA is not responsible for these blackout dates. The ice time and lessons during this time have not been charged within the fee as no GTSA program is occurring during these dates.

I want to compete in figure skating. What do I need to do? 

Competing in skating is a fun and challenging endeavour. It takes a lot of character to stand on a slippery surface alone on the ice with music playing and people critiquing your every move. Through this, comes self discovery and the teaching of many important life lessons, mostly not skating related.

To compete in figure skating, you must first become a Skate Canada member. This membership is included in your CanSkate or Learn to Skate fee. All skating competitions are Skate Canada sanctioned and only Skate Canada members are allowed to compete. There are many levels to figure skating classified sometimes by age or by skill acquisition. These would be very challenging to navigate without the help of a knowledgable Skate Canada certified coach.

The GTSA Pre-Star program is a great place to start if interested in competition. The program was uniquely designed by experienced Skate Canada coaches with the goal of having enough skills and technical concepts learned to be able to create a solo for the first level of competition. Passing through 4 stages unique to GTSA, skaters build from basic concepts to complex skills.

I came to my session early. Can I come on the ice to practice? 

Ice sessions, even though there might be GTSA skaters on them,  are grouped based on level. More advanced skaters need to practice at higher speeds often doing some dangerous tricks. Therefore, it is a safety concern to have a younger skater out on the ice without the supervision of a skating coach who can help teach the skater right of way and patterns on the ice. Ice etiquette can be complex for young children and must be learned for the higher sessions for the proper safety of all ice users. At GTSA, we only include in the price the ice time for which you are registered. Please stick to these times as this is the appropriate level for your skater.

If you have booked a private lesson with a GTSA or Skate Canada certified coach, please ensure the coach is ready to supervise before coming on the ice. We would like to avoid any potential accidents and mishaps.

Frequently Asked Questions.

I came to my session early. Can I come on the ice to practice? 

Ice sessions, even though there might be GTSA skaters on them,  are grouped based on level. More advanced skaters need to practice at higher speeds often doing some dangerous tricks. Therefore, it is a safety concern to have a younger skater out on the ice without the supervision of a skating coach who can help teach the skater right of way and patterns on the ice. Ice etiquette can be complex for young children and must be learned for the higher sessions for the proper safety of all ice users. At GTSA, we only include in the price the ice time for which you are registered. Please stick to these times as this is the appropriate level for your skater.

If you have booked a private lesson with a GTSA or Skate Canada certified coach, please ensure the coach is ready to supervise before coming on the ice. We would like to avoid any potential accidents and mishaps.


I want to compete in figure skating. What do I need to do? 

Competing in skating is a fun and challenging endeavour. It takes a lot of character to stand on a slippery surface alone on the ice with music playing and people critiquing your every move. Through this, comes self discovery and the teaching of many important life lessons, mostly not skating related.

To compete in figure skating, you must first become a Skate Canada member. This membership is included in your CanSkate or Learn to Skate fee. All skating competitions are Skate Canada sanctioned and only Skate Canada members are allowed to compete. There are many levels to figure skating classified sometimes by age or by skill acquisition. These would be very challenging to navigate without the help of a knowledgable Skate Canada certified coach.

The GTSA Pre-Star program is a great place to start if interested in competition. The program was uniquely designed by experienced Skate Canada coaches with the goal of having enough skills and technical concepts learned to be able to create a solo for the first level of competition. Passing through 4 stages unique to GTSA, skaters build from basic concepts to complex skills.


What are the blackout dates?

The blackout dates are dates when the arena does not have ice due to an event or other circumstance. Being a large 4 pad complex, there are often tournaments or other events within the building. GTSA is not responsible for these blackout dates. The ice time and lessons during this time have not been charged within the fee as no GTSA program is occurring during these dates.


I want to learn to skate, but there are so many options. Which class is right for me? 

Greater Toronto Skating Academy offers classes suitable for your own skating goals.

Parent and Tot – A class designed for young children seeking the assistance of the parent or guardian. Both must be members of Skate Canada for insurance reasons. The parent or guardian is not taught how to skate by the instructor but is there to support the child and make them feel more comfortable on the ice. This class is suggested for a skater who may experience separation anxiety or a parent who might be more comfortable assisting the child on their first steps on the ice.

Pre-Canskate – This class is for skaters who are first beginning on the ice. Skaters are taught by a coach and assisted by program assistants (PA’s). Skaters may spend most of their time on the ice with the goal of trying to stand and take their first steps. Once up and going, it gets a bit faster. Skaters may sometimes take a while to get comfortable with the ice. Please be patient and encourage them to get up and get going!

CanSkate – Skate Canada’s grassroots skating program. Skaters learn various skills in the fundamentals of Balance, Agility and Control. Skaters are grouped by skill level or age appropriateness. Skaters earn badges as they meet criteria and attain skill. Coaches are assisted by program assistants (PA’s).

CanPower Skate – This is for skaters wanting that edge before going into hockey. This can also be for hockey players to improve their game. Skaters will learn to be more agile, learn about the technical side of skating and its theory, and gain more power by properly utilizing the stroke.

Pre-Star – This program is geared towards skaters having the goal of competing in figure skating. Skaters exiting this program will be ready for Skate Canada competitions! This program is unique to GTSA and teaches the fundamentals of figure skating. Concepts taught in this program will be used to teach more complex skating moves. After this program, skaters will be able to customize a skating routine based off the skills they have learned.


I am interested in privates lessons: What do I do?

Please email the office. We would be happy to assist you based on your needs and coach availability. If you have a coach in mind, let us know and we will see if that coach is available.  Please let us know:

  • the times you have available for lessons
  • the age and ability of the skater
  • and length of the lesson desired

How does a coach invoice for private lessons?

When you arrange private instruction, their are two costs. Ice time must be paid for use of the arena. Payments may be made to GTSA. If using ticket ice, please refer to our ticket ice page. The coach will bill for their instruction, typically on a monthly basis. Coaches have their own hourly rate for private lessons. Please ask them about their preferred method of payment. Any questions you have should be asked to the coach prior to the lesson to avoid any confusion. The coach will invoice for their time.

Any communication about feedback, problems, or absences should be handled directly with the skating coach. Make sure you know your coach’s policy on missed lessons. A coach may invoice for a missed lesson if you do not give appropriate notice.


 How do I choose a private coach? 

It is important to note that, you (the skater or parent) must make the initial contact to inquire about a skating coach for private lessons. For skaters wanting to pursue the competitive skating route, this should be done in the Pre-Star class when you feel the skater is ready. Skaters may wish to skate multiple days a week and it is encouraged for improvement to be at the pace for competitive skating. Coaches are not allowed to recruit students or solicit them for business. The best time to catch a coach is before or after a session; please don’t interrupt them during group or private lessons.

An integral part of the key to success for a skater is the relationship between the coach, parent, and skater. Coaches have various teaching styles. Some may have different specialties. At GTSA, we strive to have a coaching staff who can cater to all client’s skating needs. These of course must be attained on the appropriate session for the skill level and ability of the skater.

Some coaches may be more patient and explanatory, others will be more strict and demanding. Please share your wants and needs with the office as we can help guide you and your needs.  Skaters have different goals and/or different preferences for learning. When the coach and skater have a good working relationship, lessons can be productive and more enjoyable.

There is no guaranteed method for choosing the skating instructor who will be most suitable for any particular skater. However, there are some things you can do to increase the probability of success:

  • Inquire about the coaches’ resumes. Many coaches have a skating specialty: for example, harness work, spins, choreography, or jumps. At GTSA, many of our coaching staff believes in team coaching. This means the skaters may have a coaching team to cover all the aspects of  figure skating.  This is typically more preferable in athletes striving to compete at the higher levels of the sport. Coaches may have a specific avenue of skating they prefer to teach; competitive skating or test stream, based off Skate Canada tests.

  • Watch coaches teaching other skaters and the skaters they are teaching.  Observing can give you a lot of information.

  • Ask your child if there is a particular coach they would like. Ask other skaters who their coach is. Ask parents for their recommendations based on their experience in the sport.

  • Talk to the coach. Please try to speak with the instructor when he or she is not conducting a lesson or preparing to begin a lesson.  If this is not possible, our office staff can arrange for a coach to contact you.


 How do I change private coaches? 

The relationship between coach and skater can have its highs and lows. Usually, a discussion can be had to help get everyone on the same page or to address concerns / issues. Plateaus can be normal in a skaters development and should be discussed with the coach. Differences of opinion, and other difficulties also constitute a discussion. When necessary, a change can be the only solution.  Changing coaches is not an easy situation, but there are a few things you can do to ease the process:

  • Have a discussion with the coach about your concerns or the issues. It is not required that you give the reason for the coaching change, but it is considered courteous.
  • Finalize payment on any outstanding invoices. Please inquire with the coach if any invoices have been left unpaid. An ethical new coach will not take on a skater who has an outstanding debt with another coach and will email the previous coach to confirm invoices are paid. It is your responsibility to finalize the terms with the previous coach.

Please see the Professional Coaches’ Code of Ethics for details on how coaches are supposed to handle coaching changes.


 Which kind of skates should I buy for skating classes? 

The CanSkate Program is designed for figure or hockey skates.  For a first time skater, this decision of what type of skate to wear is not super critical, but definitely something to consider.  The most important factor is the quality of the skate and support of the boot.  Please ensure the skate has adequate support for the skill level of the skater. Ask a skate specialist at a knowledgable store for assistance, if needed.

For Power Skating Program, hockey skates are recommended.

For the Pre-Star Program, figure skates are required. It is recommended you use skates from the Figure Skating Boutique or second hand figure skates with adequate support.

Please do not use blades with double runners as this will affect a skaters ability to learn.


 What clothing is best for skating classes?

Due to the climate of the arena, skaters should dress appropriately for class. Skaters may be cold in the skating arena atmosphere. It is important the skater focus on learning and not on trying to stay warm.

Clothing should not restrict the skaters ability to move or participate in class. The needs of the clothing to have more range of motion and mobility will increase as the technical ability of the skater increases. Typically the more active the skater, the warmer the get allowing for fewer layers. As a general rule, layers can be more useful than bulk as this can restrict movement: fleece to insulate and nylon to wick moisture is a good combination. Bulky snow suits can limit a skater because they make it too difficult for a skater to get up after a fall, often requiring assistance from the coach. This is ok in Pre-CanSkate when the spend a lot of time on the ice. Snowsuits should be avoided after this level.

Jeans are not recommended: the cotton in the jeans absorbs and holds moisture.

Scarves are prohibited due to a chocking hazard.

Gloves or mittens are mandatory in all Pre-CanSkate, and CanSkate classes. Gloves are preferring as skaters increase in level, specifically in Pre-Star as the fingers need to be seen.


There are so many types of skates. Which one is best for me?

It is imperative that skates provide adequate support around the ankle. This is to avoid injury.

A skate will be manufactured to have stiff leather inserts between the outer and inner layers of the boot. Older skates may lack this stiffness as they breakdown. These skates may need replacing. This is very unlikely in the early stages of skating as the skater will likely grow out of the skate prior to the skate breaking down. If the skater is planning on taking skating lessons in a used pair of skate, please verify that the skates are not too broken down from the previous owner’s use or abuse.

Things to look for when buying new skates:

  • When tied up, and the laces are snug, the boot should be a continuation of the leg. This promotes proper alignment on the ice. If the skater’s ankles lean inward or outward, the skater will have difficulty balancing (particularly on one foot). This is a problem with the equipment and will have a direct impact on the skater’s ability to skate and improve at an appropriate pace. This also may lead to injury long term as stress will be placed on the foot as well as other joints in the body.
  • Moulded plastic skates are not recommended. They provide a lot of support but they cannot be ‘broken in’.  The boot does not bend allowing for the proper range of motion for the skills and teaching progressions required in the classes. Skaters should be able to bend their ankles enough to allow the knees to be over the toes.  The plastic skates with buckles instead of laces may be convenient but they run the risk of coming undone potentially resulting in a fall or the frustration of the skater.

  • The fit of the skate is crucial to its usage. Skates should fit more snugly than regular shoes, particularly around the heel. For a skate to fit properly, it will have wiggle room at the toe, but not enough for the foot to be moving in the skate. This can result in blisters, or bunions or other foot problems. These will cause the skater pain and will decrease the enjoyment of skating.  The heel should not move at all in the skate. The ball of the foot is an important balance point in the skate and should be well fit within the boot. This ensures the proper positioning of the arch and is important for both comfort and balance.  The front opening of the boot should be sufficiently wide to pull the laces tight. The tongue should be sturdy enough so that it will stay in place, preventing laces from cutting into the foot.

  • Skates that are too small will be uncomfortable for skaters and their feet will tend to get cold very quickly in skates they have outgrown. Skates that are too big do not provide sufficient ankle support and may even cause blisters or other foot problems due to the rubbing of the foot against the boot.

  • Skates are meant to be worn with a thin pair of socks within the boot. Some skaters prefer barefoot skating, however this is preference and can sometimes result in infected blisters. You may think that thick or extra socks are a good idea to fill up the space in a skate that the skater has not yet grown into. When the skater presses against the boot, the extra thickness compresses and the skate doesn’t provide the needed support and the skater may develop foot problems. It is not a good idea to buy skates that are too big so they will last another season.

When tying a skate, it is recommended to tie the boot of the skate tightly over the toe and slightly looser but still snug over the ankle. The skater must be able to bend, but the laces should not be able to move too much if tugged. Laces should be hooked securely with sufficient tension to permit one finger down the back of the boot in the direction of the heel. Laces should be long enough to be tied in a double bow and tucked in so that they will not trip the skater.

It is important to note that a new pair of skates must have the blade sharpened before use . An unsharpened skate has a flat surface on the bottom of the blade. The blade will not grip the ice and the skater will not have adequate control. It will easily slide sideways when the skater tries to push. When sharpened, the sharpening stone grinds a concave contour which produces the two ‘edges’ (Inside and outside) that dig into the ice resulting in the ability to skate.

 

Please do not assume every sales person will be aware of this detail depending on the store you purchase your equipment at.


How often should my skates be sharpened?

A good guideline for skate sharpening is to have the blades sharpened every 30 to 50 hours of ice time. How well blades are taken care of can positively or negatively affect the need for sharpening. Skaters may also have their own personal preference of how sharp they like their blades.

Some methods to cut down on the need to sharpen your blades include:

  • Use of guards when walking off the ice
  • Walking across non-rubberized surfaces are highly detrimental to the longevity of the blade. Continuous practice of this will result in the blade not being suitable for use causing you to need to get a new blade.
  • After use, skates should be aired out to dry (not kept in the bag) this will reduce mold in the boot and rust on the blade. Failing to wipe blades dry and/or leaving plastic guards on the blades can result in rust forming on the bottom of the blades, which will cause loss of the edge while skating.
  • When getting on the ice, skaters should avoid stepping on the plastic section where the door secures shut. This can dull the blade or the metal screws on this surface can chip the blade.

A tried and true test for blade sharpness is to scrape a thumb nail against but not along the blade. If the blade shaves small shavings of the nail, it is sharp; if the blade does not, it might be time to get a new sharpening. Remember there are two edges to the blade and it is a good idea to check both for sharpness and nicks regularly.

If you have a test or competition or important skating event coming up soon, please get them sharpened one to two weeks before the event. This allows skaters enough time to get used to the sharpening. Avoid getting blades sharpened just prior to the event. If there is an issue, it does not provide enough time to rectify the situation.


Who should I trust to sharpen my skates? 

Sporting goods stores and arena pro shops are adequate for sharpening hockey skates. Under no circumstance is it recommended that skates be sharpened in a machine. This may result in the blade being ruined. Always trust a professional with your blade.

These stores should not be used for sharpening figure skates due to the meticulous precision needed to tend the blade. The machines used at these shops will take too much off at the front and back of the blade and may alter the “rocker” of the blade, changing the balance point of the blade dramatically. This will result in the blade no longer being suitable for the skills being acquired and  may cause you to need to spend more money.

There have been instances where a salesperson may recommend the sharpening off of the bottom toe pick of a figure skate blade for a beginner skater. This is definitely not a good idea and will result in the blade being  rendered completely useless for figure skating. The toe picks are important for maintaining proper balance and posture. If needed, ask for a recommendation on where to have your figure skates sharpened.


Does my child have to wear a helmet? 

As per Skate Canada’s helmet regulations for CanSkate programs, skaters must have a CSA approved hockey helmet. All skaters (CanSkate and Adult participants) must wear a helmet on the ice until a GTSA director can determine them as being able to skate comfortably passing a CanSkate badge 5 evaluation. This Skate Canada policy is enforced during all skating activities including competitions or any other special on ice activities throughout the season for this level of skater.

Although optional, helmets with cages / face guards are highly recommended for young skaters and beginning skaters of all ages. This is for further protection against blades and mishaps that may occur at the beginning stages of skating.

Please note that skaters who do not have a proper fitting CSA approved hockey helmet will NOT be allowed on the ice do to safety and liability concerns.


What kind of helmet should I buy? 

When shopping for a helmet please consider: 

  • Hockey helmets are the best suited for skaters. CSA approved hockey helmets are mandatory for all CanSkate participants up to Stage 5. Permission must be given and Stage 5 properly attained before a skater can skate without the use of a helmet. This is a Skate Canada and GTSA policy and is in place for the safety and wellbeing of the skaters on the ice. Hockey helmets provide protection for the sides and the back of the head. A hockey helmet with a visor or cage  that also protects the skater’s face from the ice and anything else that poses a threat is strongly encouraged.
  • Bicycle helmets are strictly prohibited on the ice as they do not provide the necessary protection needed for skating.  Bicycle helmets do not provide adequate protection for the back and sides of the head and do not comply with Skate Canada or GTSA’s policy. 
  • Ski or skateboard helmets are also not permitted. These helmets protect the sides and back of the head, but cannot be fitted with a visor or cage to protect the face.
  • A poor-fitting helmet will slide around on the head making it uncomfortable to wear and can shift on impact  of a fall which may result is worsening any potential injury.

Please note that you may be denied the right to skate if you do not have a helmet that complies with the Skate Canada helmet use policy.


How are group classes organized?

When you filled out the registration form, we took the information you provided and placed the skater in the group we believe best suited the skater’s needs. This can be based on class chosen, or by skill level. The skaters of the same badge, working on the same skills will be grouped together for instruction.

Fitting new skaters into groups is done by the directors at the beginning of the first session of each season. Please be patient as adjustments may need to be made throughout the season. Skaters improve at different rates and a skater may need to move into a different group. This is to best assist a skaters chance to learn and also make them as comfortable as possible on the ice. Often skaters who excel will be moved up to a stronger group where they will be more challenged. Likewise, skaters who need more time at a level may be moved to a group where they will be more at a pace comfortable for their skating. Skaters should not feel bad about moving groups as it can be part of skating.


Who are the younger “coaches” that are out there helping my skater?

These are skilled competitive skaters within GTSA. These skaters on the ice are known as Program Assistants or PA’s. Their responsibility is to assist the skaters and help the coach with the group. They are there to motivate encourage and help the skaters as the partake in the coach’s lesson.

Neither the coach nor the PA are expected to hold up the skater repeatedly throughout a class or force a skater to skate if they do not wish.  The skater must be self motivated to partake in class.


I notice my skater is faster than other skaters in his/her group. Why aren’t they moving up? 

Coaches evaluate skills and give checkmarks for acquired skills in the CanSkate or Pre-Star programs. Usually, it is the case that while a child may be performing well at some skills, they have not yet sufficiently mastered other skills. If a skater does not learn all of the skills at each level, it may result in the missed skills impacting their advancement in the future. In Pre-Star, many of the skills have parts which must be learned as fundamentals to skating. These steps or processes to each skating element can be picky and very detail oriented. A coach wants to see that the skills are properly learned before passing the badge or giving a certificate. A coach may work on several badge levels in the same lesson with the same group. A Coach may also review skills from previous stages to obtain more quality or detail or to show how the skater as improved.  Challenge skills from future badges are sometimes introduced for motivation.


What happens if my child has to miss a skating class?

GTSA is not responsible for classes you cannot attend. Each class is purchased as is and is not subject to make up classes should you not be able to attend. Missing too many classes may make it challenge for the skate to properly be evaluated by the coach potentially resulting in the skater not being awarded a report card at the end of the season. Some coaches evaluate on specific chosen days as they like to spend the majority of their time teaching and working on skills rather than evaluating.

Due to registration constraints, GTSA is unable to provide make-up classes. Refunds will only be provided for medical reasons and must have a medical note from a doctor. Please see our policy page for more details.


My skater or myself have completed the CanSkate program. What next? 

When you have completed the CanSkate program, you will have the skating skills to enjoy skating on a recreational basis. Skaters may choose to continue to other Skate Canada programming hosted at GTSA including STARSkate (the figure skating test program) or CanPowerSkate (hockey skills).

If you wish to pursue figure skating competitively, please inquire about or Pre-Star program. Skaters viewed as suitable for the program may be selected prior to the completion of CanSkate and moved into a Pre-Star group for more enriched and specific development and skill acquisition for the sport of figure skating. CanSkate badges may still be tested periodically in the Pre-Star class.


Please send us an email at gtsaskating@gmail.com with any further questions or concerns you might have

GTSA Specific Questions:

  • I came to my session early. Can I come on the ice to practice? 
  • I want to compete in figure skating. What do I need to do? 
  • What are the blackout dates? 

Inquiries on general information:

  • I want to learn to skate, but there are so many options. Which class is right for me?
  • I am interested in privates lessons. What do I do?
  • How does a coach invoice for private lessons?
  • How do I choose a private coach? 
  • How do I change private coaches? 

 Equipment inquiries:

  •  Which kind of skates should I buy for skating classes? 
  • What clothing is best for skating classes?
  • There are so many types of skates. Which one is best for me?
  • How often should my skates be sharpened?
  • Who should I trust to sharpen my skates? 
  • Does my child have to wear a helmet? 
  • What kind of helmet should I buy? 

 Learn to Skate specific inquiries:

  • How are group classes organized?
  • Who are the younger “coaches” that are out there helping my skater?
  • I notice my skater is faster than other skaters in his/her group. Why aren’t they moving up? 
  • What happens if my child has to miss a skating class?
  • My skater or myself have completed the CanSkate program. What next?