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Skating Coach, Skating Instructor, Teacher, or Pro - Is There a Difference?


Coaches Karen Kwan Oppegard and Peter Oppegard Smile With Figure Skater Caroline Zhang

Coaches Karen Kwan Oppegard and Peter Oppegard Smile With Figure Skater Caroline Zhang

Photo by Matthew Stockman - Getty Images
Question: Skating Coach, Skating Instructor, Teacher, or Pro - Is There a Difference?
The terms coach, instructor, skating teacher, and skating pro are all used in figure skating. These terms are used interchangeably, but in reality, there really are some differences.

Not All Ice Skating Instructors Are Skating Coaches:

There are many individuals that can give skating lessons. Not all people that teach skating fill the figure skating coach role. Just being able to teach skating does not mean an individual is a skating coach.

A Figure Skating Coach Does More Than Just Teach:

  • A figure skating coach is more than just a teacher: he or she is a figure skater's mentor, guide, and role model.
  • A successful figure skating coach will draw figure skaters to a rink or a figure skating club.
  • Figure skating coaches teach lessons and manage figure skaters' lifestyles and training.

Skating Instructors and Teachers Give Group and Private Ice Skating Lessons:

Almost every ice skating rink in the world offers group and private skating lessons. It is common to see skaters taking lessons from individuals that consider themselves skating instructors. These people may or may not also take on the skating coach role.

"Who Do You Take From?"

Many times skaters will ask one another who their skating coach is. The phrase "Who do you take from?" was commonly used when skaters took lessons from one coach. Today, figure skaters may take lessons from more than one coach, so that phrase may not be used. Instead skaters ask one another who is the primary coach or main coach.

"Who's Your Pro?

Another term or phrase that was once used by figure skaters was the term "pro." The definition of the world "pro" in skating meant the same thing as a skating coach. A pro managed a figure skater's training and skating career. A pro traveled to competitions and was at a skater's side during tests and competitions. A pro worked very hard and went over and above for a figure skater.

When a figure skater left the amateur ranks, he or she "turned pro."

What Is a Skating Coach's Life Like?

Figure skating coaches put in long hours. They usually work six days a week. Their day may start at 4 or 5 am, and may not end until 6 or 7 am.

A figure skating coach may charge anywhere between $20 to $50 for a 20 to 30 minute lesson. If a coach develops and maintains a large private lesson clientele, he or she may be able to make a living teaching skating. Most coaches will teach competitive skating students every day of the week.

Most figure skating coaches give lessons with their skates on. They may give several lessons in a row with no breaks.

Even though skating coaches make a lot of money when they give private lessons, they also put in many unpaid hours talking to skaters' parents, cutting music for skaters,and planning and monitoring the training of their figure skating students. A figure skating coach's personal life may mix a bit with social life. Getting away from skating or thinking about skating may be difficult for a skating coach. It takes a conscious effort on a coach's part to give his or her family attention.

A Skating Instructor Can Teach Part-Time, But a Skating Coach Must Teach Full-Time:

Recreational skaters can work with any ice skating instructor or teacher, but competitive figure skaters need a full-time coach. Competitive figure skaters require much attention. Part-time coaches can give supplemental instruction to competitive skaters, but a skater's main coach needs to be able to be in control and be available to teach at least 5 to 6 days a week, 7 to 10 hours a day.
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