May 8, 2011

Adult skater question

An adult skater tells me:
I'm now in FS1, with a few skills that range up to FS3, and am completely hooked. I'm technically in group lessons though effectively they are privates, since no other adult has signed up for group lessons at 10am on a Tuesday. I have no delusions of grandeur, but I love love love this sport like I've loved nothing else physical I've ever done. How do I proceed? What's next and who do I ask?
Personally, I like goal setting, and this skater specifically asked about this. Here are some of the things she asked about:

Just skating in class or a single weekly lesson will barely maintain your ability let alone help you increase your skills. Three to six hours a week is adequate practice to really improve. Serious competitive skaters train 20 to 30 hours per week, including off-ice; the serious recreational kids do about 3 to 6 hours per week, so that's a pretty good model. If you want to compete (see below), you'll need to increase your ice time, although probably not up to 20 hours per week.

Private lessons
Two things will improve your skating: mileage and instruction. Mileage is addressed above. Private lessons are reasonably easy to come by, but don't take them with just anyone. Rather than looking for the "best" instructor (as evidenced by high level students), look for the ones who teach adult classes and have adults in private lessons. Not everyone understands how to teach adults; some coaches can be either impatient, unclear, or outright dangerous in that they don't take into account adults' different bodies, brains, and courage.

Adult testing
Specific goals and focus and measurable progress are really motivating. All the patterns for Moves in the Field, and the requirements for Free Skating are on line, but if you want to actually work on testing for USFS judges, you really cannot teach these to yourself. A coach will know the small tricks that judges are looking for, will know the end patterns (which aren't always specified, especially in the lower level patterns) and will be able to assess when your skills are test ready.

Ice show
Join the adult number in your rink's ice show. I absolutely guarantee, as long as you're not my friend Beth who is a hold-out, that you will have a blast. No one; okay almost no one, takes themselves very seriously, you'll meet the other adult skaters, and you'll go out for drinks afterwards. Some rinks award solos to adults at a lower level than they do the kids, if that's your bag.

Ice Dance
There are still clubs that have social dance ice where other club members can teach you the patterns, and rinks with ice dance classes. Ice dance is excellent for adults, because you can do the patterns in your comfort zone of speed, edge and pattern size, and you always know exactly where to put your feet. Plus, no jumps.

Synchronized skating, formerly known as Precision, is essentially team skating. Just about every club in the US and Canada has adult synchro teams at a range of levels from beginner to advanced, and many rinks have ISI or local teams. Some of these take a more Theater on Ice approach. These are good for the same reasons as the ice show-- you get to meet other adult skaters, and liquor is often involved.

And finally, the one area of skating that keeps more adults from joining this sport than any other:

How do you dress?
Skating tights, yoga pants, loose, body-skimming shirt if you're a little self-conscious about body image, or tight fitting if you're skinny, you rat. Skirts are lovely, but as far as I'm concerned, adults, even young adults, skating in the adult tracks, should have some dignity and wear a skirt that reaches to mid thigh.


  1. Come to adult nationals, it's so much fun!

    And lol I have no dignity and sometimes I even weart booty shorts *gasp* I figure it's more age appropriate for me to be wearing shorts than the young teen girls. I do have one dress with a skirt that comes down to mid thigh but it makes my legs look shorter and stubbier than they already are.

  2. I own several swim suit skirts. They work great as skating skirts for adults. They aren't too short, they come with built-in panties and come in a much broader range of sizes than traditional skating skirts. Plus they dry really fast after you wipe the ice with your backside.

  3. I'm not sure I'm going to enjoy being in my first show (sounds like a lot of waiting is involved), but the practices have been hilarious. Thanks to skate director for giving the adults one of the best pieces of music and tons of rehearsal time.

  4. Yeah, the show is a whole lot of hurry up and wait, but the rehearsals rock.

  5. I don't think half this stuff exists in the UK for the most part (ice dance clubs, synchro teams, rink shows, etc.). If I recall correctly, the two actual skating clubs at the rink I go to don't even allow adults to join. Luckily there is an instructor at the rink that takes individual adults for lessons - she says a lot of coaches won't teach adults because we break more easily! *lol*

    I just wear jeans and a t-shirt - seems to work out just fine. I wore a mid-thigh length skirt once (I'm stick-skinny anyway) which was nice and liberating compared to jeans, but of course everything was visible doing spins or spirals, so the length of the skirt really doesn't make any difference in the end. Thank goodness for opaque leggings! And socks, since tights would leave my underwear more than visible...

  6. Thanks for this! (I was the asker of the original question.) I really must tap into the other adults at my rink. Skate first, commiserate over wine afterwards sounds so lovely. :)

    @Baffled I love the idea of the bathing suit skirt as a way to ease into the idea of a dress. Brilliant. It makes me think running skirts are another good option -- the fabric is typically much sturdier than bathing suit fabric, with a built-in panty and a cut that's really made for moving in without being too short for grown ups.

    Can I ask a follow-up: what is expected in skate-wear for testing? I assume a plain kind of dress. But could one do a skirt and athletic-looking top (one cut so it shows no belly skin, obviously)? Or is it really required for one just to bite the bullet & go custom, even for a plain dress, if one is too tall for the standard sizes?

  7. A garment for testing should allow the judges to clearly see the line of your body. Clothing does not have to be tight, and certainly not custom, but should be body skimming rather than blousy, for instance yoga pants and a tunic.

    SeKu Skatewear has extra long pants and wonderfully adult-flattering styles. (

  8. Xan, you are so speedy and helpful. I normally skate in yoga pants and a fitted top, so that is a relief. Now, to get the skills up to speed... :)

  9. I'm an adult skater and I like the chloe noel pants and jacket- they come in adult sizes- they are great for practice and class... I do the adult competitions, so I also have practice skirts to wear and my competition dress. I see a lot of adults skating in the pants/jacket combo, it's what the teens wear at my rink too... and there are some who brave the skating skirt- but usually only the smaller adults. And we have adults in their 60s who compete- their skirts are a bit longer, more like dance skirts than freestyle skirts though.