SKATER INFO CENTRE
- Where can I learn about your different learn-to-skate programs?
We offer programs for ages 2 through to adult for skaters of all abilities, including those who have never skated. For a description of these programs, click the PROGRAMS menu above, and then select LEARN-TO-SKATE. Additional information to help you select the right program to meet your needs can also be found in our Getting Started in Skating Guide.
- How do I register my child for skating lessons?
Registration for all our programs takes place online on our website. Here are the steps:
- To view the schedule and pricing information, click SCHEDULE & REGISTRATION from the top menu.
- Select the Learn-to-Skate tab.
- Click on any program name to view availability or register
- Login (existing members), or create a new account (new members). All family members should register under the same account. When you create an account, you will need to provide details for the member (this is the account holder, typically a parent), and all participants (these are the skaters in the family).
- Click the Registration menu, then click the Register button next to the desired session to add to your cart.
- When you have finished selecting sessions, click Shopping Cart and complete your transaction.
- What equipment do I need to skate?
Properly fitted skates are essential. Skates must not be sized too large because loose fitting skates do not support the foot and ankle. Figure skates and hockey skates are both acceptable for Parent & Tot, CanSkate, and Community Learn-to-Skate programs; the choice should be made depending on your future skating plans. For example, if you might continue on in figure skating, it is preferable to wear figure skates from the start. If you choose figure skates, the toe pick should be intact (not ground off).
A properly fitted CSA-approved hockey helmet is mandatory for all Learn-to-Skate participants. Helmets designed for other activities--such as bicycle, skateboard or ski helmets--are not permitted. Our helmet policy can be found here.
All skaters are encouraged to wear gloves or mittens, as well as warm and comfortable clothing that allows them to move freely. Clothing should be warm, but skaters should avoid overdressing to prevent overheating as a result of the physical activity involved in learning to skate.
- What can I expect on the first day of skating?
Please be sure to bring your skates, CSA-approved hockey helmet (mandatory), warm apparel, and registration confirmation (emailed to you after you registered) if you registered within 72 hrs of the first session. Plan on arriving 30 minutes early on the first day as you will need to check in, receive your name tag, and put on your skates. Our volunteers will meet you at the rink. They will look for your name on their registration list and will give you a name tag. This name tag must be worn at all lessons so that our coaches can track your progress and update their records.
Once you have collected your name tag, you will then put on your skates, helmet, and gloves, then head to the ice surface entrance and wait for your session to start. Our coaches will let you know when it's time to enter the ice. On the first day, your coach-in-charge will also review some important information with skaters and their parents.
Expect "organized chaos" on the first day of skating as coaches place skaters into groups according to ability. By the end of the first session all skaters will have a group, which will be indicated by a coloured sticker plaed on your name tag. You will remain within that group for the remaining program sessions. Note: coaches may at times move a skater to a different group as skills develop over the season.
- Can parents go on the ice with their children?
Parents are not permitted on the ice in any of our program, with the exception of our Parents & Tot program. We ask parents to watch their child from the stands. This allows our coaches to have the complete attention of the skaters. Our Skate Canada certified professional coaches have many years of experience coaching young skaters and are well equipped to take care of your child during their skating session.
- Where are your rinks located?
See our rink location information page for addresses and maps.
- How do I tie my child's skates?
Skates must be properly sized, sharpened, and tied snugly.
- Begin by loosening laces halfway down so your child’s foot can slide in easily. The heel should sit flat and toes shouldn’t touch the end of the skate.
- Starting at the toe, pull each criss-crossed lace so the skate feels snug, but your child can still wiggle their toes. Hockey skates can be looser at the toes, but figure skates should be snug throughout.
- For hockey skates, lace up to the top holes and tie with a bow. For figure skates, cross laces and loop around the eyelets, pulling as you go. Tie at the top.
- Have your child stand, then check to make sure that ankles are well supported. Blades should not be angled
- Do you offer learn-to-skate lessons all year long, including the summer?
Yes! We offer skating lessons 12 months per year. Summer is an excellent time to learn to skate. There's nothing quite like cooling off at the rink on a hot summer's day.
- How do the CanSkate ribbons and badges work?
The CanSkate program focuses on the development of six fundamental movements: GO forward, GO backwards, STOP, TURN, SPIN and JUMP. These are organized in six stages of learning. The skills are arranged in progressions, from very simple to the more complex. Once the skills for each stage are mastered, a badge is awarded. The names of the badges are:
- Stage 1 - Balance
- Stage 2 - Glide Forward
- Stage 3 - Glide Backward
- Stage 4 - Edges
- Stage 5 - Power
- Stage 6 - Speed
Detailed information about CanSkate ribbons and badges can be found here.
- What is the Skate Canada membership fee? Do I have to pay it?
Skate Canada is the national sport organization for skating. As a Skate Canada sanctioned club, KWSC must register all skaters with Skate Canada. The membership fee is currenty $35.70, and covers the period from September 1 to August 31.
Once you have paid the annual membership fee in one season (e.g., fall), you will not need to pay it again until September 1. Note that Skate Canada requires each skater to pay the membership fee within each September 1 to August 31 period; thus, depending on the time of year when you pay your membership fee, it may lapse before a 12-month period.
- What do the coloured badge stickers mean? I think my child may have been placed into the wrong coloured group.
To facilitate our lessons, skaters are grouped by ability on learn-to-skate sessions. The skater's group is identified by a coloured sticker placed on their nametag. There can be up to 6 groups on any session, with purple representing the highest skilled group for that session. Skaters are placed into an initial coloured group on the first day of skating each season. Coaches sometimes move skaters from one coloured group to another during the season.
The colours do not represent a particular CanSkate badge. If they did, there might be 25 Stage 1 skaters in one group, and only 1 Stage 6 skater in another group. Rather, the colours correspond to skating ability groupings for a particular session, which can vary considerably across sessions. Because of this, a skater working on a particular CanSkate badge might be assigned a different colour across different sessions. For example, on session A the most advanced skaters might be working on their Stage 3 badges, whereas on session B the most advanced skaters might be working on Stage 5 and 6 badges. A particular skater who skates on both sessions A and B would be assigned to one colour for session A, and a different colour for session B.
For the same reasons, a particular skater's colour group can change from one season to the next. For example, Sally might be in the purple group at the end of fall, and then in the green group at the beginning of winter. This is not a reflection of Sally's progress, but instead reflects a difference in the range of skating abilities in those two sessions.
Our coaches keep detailed records of how each skater's skills are progressing within the CanSkate badge system. These are kept in a central database that is shared amongst all coaches, and is carried over from season to season. Rest assured that no matter what coloured group you have been placed into, your coaches will ensure that you are learning the skills required for the badge you are currently working on.
- How do I care for my skates?
For daily skate care you will need plastic or rubber "hard guards", fabric "soft guards", an absorbent cloth, and a storage bag.
To prevent damaging the delicate sharp edges of your blades, always wear plastic or rubber "hard guards" when walking off ice. However, skates should never be stored with hard guards installed because they retain moisture, causing the blades to rust and become dull. Instead, wipe your boots, soles and blades dry using an absorbent cloth after each use, and protect the blades from damage in your bag with cloth blade guards. These will prevent nicks and will absorb condensation that forms on cold blades. When you get home, skates should be removed from your bag and allowed to dry at room temperature to prevent moisture from damaging the boot leather and sole. If you will not be using your skates for several weeks, you can prevent rust by coating the blades with a thin layer of oil or other lubricant such as WD-40.
- How often do skates need to be sharpened?
Blades should be sharpened when they lose their ability to grip the ice and slide sideways too easily. The time between sharpenings varies considerably depending on the quality of the blade, how you skate, and how you care for your blades. For example, walking on concrete without blade guards will make it necessary to sharpen your blades immediately. But as a general guide properly maintained high quality figure skate blades should be sharpened after about 20-30 hours of use. Blades made of softer steel likely require more frequent sharpening.
Figure skate blades should only be sharpened by a skilled person who understands the special requirements of figure skate blades. An experienced figure skate technician can be found in Waterloo at the RIM Park Skate Shop.
- My child is having a difficult time learning to skate. What should I do?
Not all children feel comfortable on the ice right away. Experienced skaters can make skating look easy, but parents should remember that ice is hard and extremely slippery, and it may take several sessions before your child settles in to skating. Skating lessons are a fun and exciting way for young children to learn life skills such as overcoming challenges. Our Skate Canada certified professional coaches are fun and enthusiastic individuals who are committed to providing quality skating programs for our members. They are skilled in alleviating skaters' fears, but parents can help by telling their children that learning to skate is challenging, but with perseverance everyone can learn to skate.
With patience, continued effort, and parental encouragement, your child will go from sitting, to standing, and then to walking on ice. Soon they will be gliding across the ice with a smile of accomplishment on their face!
- Are there strategies to help my child progress more quickly from learn-to-skate into figure skating?
Skating is an early development sport, much like gymnastics and dance. Although people of all ages can learn to skate, younger skaters learn and progress more quickly.
Skaters with a desire to figure skate are encouraged to start as early as ages 3 to 5 and to wear figure skates (with a toepick) rather than hockey skates.
Progress is enhanced by skating at least twice per week, 8 to 12 months per year in a KWSC Learn-to-Skate program such as CanSkate. Young skaters with good work habits and perseverance will then be invited into the Enrichment Program, which provides an accelerated development pathway towards our Introduction to Figure Skating program.
- Is fee assistance available for low income families?
Yes, fee assistance is available through the City of Kitchener Fee Assistance Leisure Access Program, and through the City of Waterloo Fee Assistance Leisure Access Program. Fee assistance is also sometimes available through KidSport Kitchener Waterloo.
LEARN-TO-SKATE and POWER SKATING programs are offered year-round, organized into 4 seasons:
- Fall: Sep-Dec
- Winter: Jan-Mar
- Spring: Apr-Jun
- Summer: Jun-Aug
You can register separately for each of these seasons.
FIGURE SKATING programs are offered year-round, organized into 3 seasons:
- Fall/Winter: Sep-Mar
- Spring: Apr-Jun
- Summer: Jul-Aug