Reader question:Forget the axel. Working out the schedule is the hard part of figure skating. For a serious skater like this one, several days of skating per week (3 or more) is not unreasonable.
My daughter is 8 yrs old and has been skating 15 months. She currently has a group lesson a week (just started Freeskate 1), and has had one private lesson a week for the past year plus an extra ½ hour when preparing for competitions. She is also going to be on the Beginner synchro team in the fall and we'll probably be adding a second ½ hour lesson.
Is it better to do a one hour private or 2 - ½ hour lessons per week? I was thinking that since time is spent warming up and practicing things like crossovers etc at the beginning of each lesson that an hour lesson would leave more time for learning new things. It would also be more convenient because we already come to the rink for synchro and group lessons. At this point she is not into coming to the rink 4 or 5 times a week.
Personally I think lessons should be as spread out as possible. In other words, don't do a Tuesday morning lesson, Tuesday afternoon practice and class and Wednesday morning lesson if you can spread it a little thinner. Figure a day on, a day off, two days on two days off, and on Sunday even the Lord rested. Skaters coming 4 and 5 days a week should try to have at least one period every week to two weeks where they get 2 days off in a row. That's for sanity.
A high level skater (figure FS 3 and up) should never have less than an hour and a half per session, including 15 minute off-ice warm up, 15 minute on ice warm up (stroking, cross overs and edges), 30 to 45 minutes practice or lesson, and a 10 minute cool down. A higher level skater, or one with good stamina can do as much as 3 hours in a single stretch, with breaks. Learn-to-skate and low freestyle should shoot for that hour, including a 5 minute stretch and 10-minute "fun skate" warm up.
Ideally, you want your lesson in the second half-hour of the practice ice, so that you get to do the warm up on your own rather than, as the reader says, spending half the lesson on stroking and crossovers. You really can't skip this part, so if your skater has not done the basic warm up on her own, she's going to have to do it with the coach.
With low level skaters, I rarely manage to achieve this ideal. Most of my skaters get to the rink 5 minutes before they go on the ice, and their warm up is maybe twice around the rink stroking. If your coach is spending free style lesson time on cross overs, it's because there's a problem with the cross overs. The way to get rid of the cross over lessons is not to increase lesson time, but rather to increase practice time. This is especially important for a lower level freestyle skater starting synchro, because synchro techniques can be very different from free skating, and the skater will need to be able to learn the differences and apply them in the appropriate situation.
Here's my favorite way of figuring out how much ice time you need to progress in freeskating: for every full rotation, your skater should be on the ice for 30 minutes a week. So-- Free Skate 1 (waltz jump=half rotation, half flip = half rotation, mazurka = half rotation. 1½ rotations= 45 to 60 minutes per week, or one class or practice and one lesson. Free skate five (axel+salchow+toe loop+loop+flip+lutz), 3½ total rotations combined= 3 1/2 hours on the ice. Call it 2 half-hour lessons, two 1 hour practices, one class.
Synchro, I'm sorry to say, is additional.
How do you work out your schedule? How much do you feel you or your child has to skate to progress?