Mar 4, 2010

Game Day: Beyond the relay race

Curmudgeon that I am, I hate Game Day.

The whines of "no fair, they have all the fast skaters" and the timid ones who are too scared to play catch games (personally I don't blame them). The wracking the brain for a new variation on the relay race and the tedious wasteful arranging of the children.

But I am happy to say that I have managed to get through the last week of the current session without running a single relay race or red-light-green-light game, and only one instance of Sharks and Minnows. So here's some Game Day alternatives:

Especially this week, following hard upon the Olympics, all my Beta and higher classes got to make up their own programs. First we talked about what goes into a program, and I made the kids figure it out: Jumps, Spins, Footwork and Gliding Maneuvers. For jumps we did two-foot hops, bunny hops, and two foot jumping turns. For glides we did spirals (sort of), lunges, attitudes, and shoot the duck. Footwork was one- or two-foot turns and crossovers. I told them about transitions: "it's what you do in between the other stuff," and then how to put everything into the program. (Basically put one element in each hockey circle). To time the practice period, I put on the Skater's Waltz, which is about 12 minutes long, and had each kid make up his or her own one-minute program. I went and got the parents and explained what we were doing, then at the end of the music, everyone got off the ice and we all watched each student perform their programs one by one.

This one requires that you really know each kid's strength, so that you can make sure you have challenges that everyone can win at least one of. This can be longest glide (one foot or two foot). Longest glide from a single push, or from one or multiple swizzles, or backwards. It can be an actual race, for the fast kids. It can be most creative one foot position (or silliest), or best use of arms. For higher level kids most rotations on a spin or most waltz jumps in a row, best spin feature or longest jump sequence.

Add on
Basically this is another program game. You start with one skill everyone can do, say stroking. Everyone does it. Then you ask for a suggestion on another thing they can do. Now you do stroking plus that skill. Keep adding skills until you're doing as many as fit in the width of the ice.

Divide the group into two equal teams (speed does not matter in this game). Put out an even number of traffic cones. One team is "neat" and stands the cones up, the other is "messy" and knocks the cones down. Whichever one has the most cones in the desired position at the end of a specified time period wins. Kids LOVE this game. They will play it 20 times if you let them. It's great because it's a "fast" game where you skate your own speed.

Free time
That's right. This is the one thing that kids today don't have enough of. So give them the last 5 or even 10 minutes of the last class to just do whatever they want to do.


  1. I love the "add on" game! I think I may do that when I'm practicing. Thanks for the fun idea!

  2. MER it's a GREAT way to practice, in fact, and it makes you think about how the various skills relate to each other.

  3. I'm telling you, Xan, Ice Girl would totally rock the messy/neat game...if you put her on the messy team.

    (Love ya, Ice Girl! Go shovel out that room...)

  4. MER11 - Ice Girl loves Add on. That's how she got her left waltz, left toe loop, left loop, left flip. She wanted to smear everyone else. A little over the top, I think.

  5. Ice Mom, that would be a great free style challenge, too! Reverse jumps and spins!

  6. The Same AnonymousMarch 8, 2010 at 3:15 AM

    I had another question about practice ice (sorry if I'm annoying you). What do you consider a reasonable level/age for a skater to do individual practice on "low" freestyle ice?

    It's not that I don't think I skate enough, but the other week when I was whizzing around I realised it was seven weeks since I'd last just stroked around the whole rink (and even then it was a crowded, bad-ice public session). Skate School is pretty crowded, and the ice is sectioned off, so my stroking has really been suffering. Not to mention my fitness level -- I was breathing hard after one lap!

    But I'm worried I might not be good enough to go on a freestyle session, because my forward crossovers are still only one direction, and I've only just started the backward ones. I see little beginner kids on freestyle ice with their coaches, but never any beginners alone.

    How old/experienced do you have to be to go on a freestyle session?

  7. SA- you need to find out the rules for practice sessions at your rink. At my home rink it wouldn't be an issue-- you simply wouldn't be allowed on freestyle ice (must have passed FS 1). If it's allowed, but you're nervous about it, ask one of the coaches to take you out the first time to teach you the on-ice rules, manners, and protocols (and explain how to keep from running into other skaters). If you don't know a coach to talk to, ask the skating director to suggest someone, or to post your request.

    Rinks usually have a lower age for going solo on Practice Ice, usually around 7 or 8. Younger than that you must have a coach with you. (Even if it's not an actual rule, this is just a good idea.)

    Nothing like skating with everyone "whizzing past" you to bring your skating up to speed so to speak!