Few sports present the combination of elegance and beauty that figure skaters bring to their performance. Figure skating was the first competition added to the Winter Olympics more than a century ago and remains the most popular of all cold-weather Olympic events. The sport itself is among the oldest known to humanity, dating back to prehistoric times when the blades of primitive ice skates were made of sharpened animal bone. Only in the mid-1800s did ice skating blades come to be forged of iron and eventually steel.
Figure skating is beloved because it is an art form folded into an athletic event where the main competition is really the skater’s own ability. Skaters are judged against each other, yes, but they do not face off in direct competition.
Figure skating is about discipline of mind and body. Personal goals are met and then reset to a higher level. There will be ups and downs. The challenge is to embrace the moment.
Most people can pick up the fundamentals of team sports and play competitively from an early age. Figure skating demands much more time and personal sacrifice. No other sport unites the artistic and physical demands of figure skating, which brings together the artistry of dance and the athleticism of gymnastics.
Committed figure skating students know they must work hard and expect a coach to take the journey with them. As a private coach working with dedicated skaters, you’ll forge business and personal relationships that can last for years. Share your love of this elegant sport by becoming a private figure skating coach.
In this article you’ll learn:
- How much money you can make as a private figure skating instructor
- The required training and certifications
- Professional groups to join
- Employment opportunities
- Finding skaters to teach as a private coach
- Plus helpful tips for private figure skating coaches.
How much money can you make?
The average annual salary of a skating instructor employed by a recreation center or ice rink is $33,923. But for private lessons, a certified figure skating instructor can charge anywhere from $50 to $100 or more per hour, depending on reputation and experience. With steady clients, a private instructor can easily make six figures a year. Let’s do the math:
Serious skaters need to train 5 days a week. At $100 an hour per student, 5 times a week, with just six clients you could be making $150,000 a year with time off for two weeks of vacation.
Bear in mind that there are unique business costs for a private figure skating coach, including access to an ice rink if you do not own a facility for skating. So whatever the hourly rate is for skating at your local rink, that will come off your earnings. For example, to actually make $50 an hour when there’s a $10 hourly skating fee at the ice rink, you’ll need to set your fee for clients at $60 per hour. And students will be expected to cover the cost of their own skating fee above and beyond your coaching time. Almost all serious figure skaters will own their own ice skates, so rental fees for skates shouldn’t be an issue. Personal skates are a vital piece of equipment to ensure proper fit and safety during jumping performances.
Alternatively, if you live in a cold enough climate, you could offer lessons on wild ice, where a nearby lake has frozen to sufficient thickness that ice skating can be practiced safely.
Training and Certification
US Figure Skating oversees the process of becoming a certified figure skating coach in the United States. You can become a member for $144 per year, then begin your coach training.
The first step in becoming a figure skating coach is to join Learn to Skate USA as an instructor. Each program has its own coaching requirements, but the basic requirements include a Learn to Skate USA instructor membership, background check and SafeSport certification for all instructors.
Register here as a Learn to Skate Instructor.
The U.S. Figure Skating SafeSport Program addresses misconduct as part of an ongoing effort to protect student athletes. The mandatory SafeSport course, which costs $20, covers:
- Sexual misconduct
- Physical misconduct
- Emotional misconduct
- Bullying, threats and harassment
- Willfully tolerating misconduct
The organization maintains a zero-tolerance policy for members who violate SafeSport standards or the code of ethics. The US Center for SafeSport investigates and resolves all claims involving misconduct.
The next step toward becoming a private coach is to obtain U.S. Figure Skating Coach Certification. This chart highlights the different coaching levels and requirements for each.
To teach private lessons, coach at competitions and participate in other figure skating events, you must be a member in good standing of U.S. Figure Skating and complete an annual background check.
Some coaching activities require the completion of mandatory continuing education requirements and some require a Professional Skaters Association membership in addition to the U.S. Figure Skating membership.
Visit MySkateCoach to review videos of coaching lessons and figure skating drills. This will give you an idea of what your own training will be like, as well as how to interact with students.
You’ll also find hundreds of figure skating tutorials and sample training videos on YouTube. Search “figure skating coaching videos.”
Professional Groups to Join
Many private coaches are members of both US Figure Skating and the Professional Skaters Association. Both offer continuing professional development, conferences, regular updates on new training ideas and choreography, as well as news about the sport, upcoming events and that all-important sense of community that builds around a common passion.
Joining professional groups also shows you are serious about your work and committed to coaching figure skating to exacting standards. Indeed, serious skaters who’ve educated themselves on what to look for in a coach may not even consider someone without professional affiliations and certifications.
The same holds true for employers considering you for a figure skating instructor position within their programs.
The Professional Skaters Association maintains an up-to-date jobs board for coaching opportunities.
Networking with your fellow members in professional skating organizations helps you forge relationships that can lead to insider tips on job openings no one else knows about.
For new coaches just getting started, consider preparing a few sample lesson plans and take them along with your ice skates and resume to local ice rinks and sports clubs where ice skating is available. Introduce yourself, highlight your experience and ability, and ask for the opportunity to teach – or to be considered for a job the next time a coaching opening comes up.
Join figure skating groups on social media to meet other coaches and dedicated skaters, and to promote yourself. Facebook has several groups devoted to figure skating and coaching the sport.
Online sites such as CoachUp can send you private clients, but they come at a price.
CoachUp charges each new client you work with a $20 fee. You’ll pay $10 annually, plus commissions on your coaching sessions. The commission can range from 6 percent to a whopping 43 percent, according to $IDEHUSL.
- New clients
- A personalized online profile with a custom web link.
- Support for your 1-on-1 sessions, group sessions, clinics, camps and online training
- A mobile app to interact with your clients and schedule their sessions
- $1 million of liability insurance on your sessions
- Discounts on training equipment, apparel, and gear
You can apply here to join CoachUp.
Good to know:
Cover yourself and your private coaching business with liability insurance. Injuries happen in figure skating and you could be held accountable through no fault of your own. This shouldn’t be viewed as a discouragement, but as a practical matter of doing business.
Professional figure skating coach Tom Zakrajersk offers tips for private instructors when evaluating whether to accept a new student.
- Obvious desire to get out on the ice
- Artistic Expression
- Eagerness to learn
- Natural action in stroking
- Able to learn and retain information from each lesson to build n=on the next
- Will they practice on their own what they are being taught by a coach?
- Fearlessness and the acceptance that falling is inevitable.
If you enjoyed this article, check out some other PocketSuite.io content that can help you grow your career as a private figure skating instructor. Here’s a great place to start.
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