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1.4 - Learn-to-Skate Programs Overview

(Note: The CanSkate program has gone through revisions which will not be reflected in this section until full implementation, effective September 1, 2014. More information on the revised program can be found in Members Only under Technical & Programs > NEW CanSkate.)



CanSkate is Skate Canada’s flagship learn-to-skate program for beginners of all ages that teaches fundamental movements (go forward, go backward, stop, turn, spin and jump) and basic skills. The program is set up in seven stages. The CanSkate program emphasizes fun and continuous movement and is taught in a group lesson format. CanSkate is taught by Skate Canada Professional Coaches and assisted by trained Program Assistants. Awards and incentives are used to motivate skaters to achieve and develop their skills as well as to keep interest high. CanSkate is a feeder program to all other Skate Canada programs, but is not a pre-requisite.

The final, optional enrichment Stage 7 (pre-preliminary) of the CanSkate program is a transitional stage that serves as a bridge from CanSkate to the STARSkate Program, the core figure skating program of Skate Canada. It introduces many figure skating skills that are included in the Preliminary level tests. Skaters who complete Stage 7 are well on their way to taking their first Skate Canada figure skating test.

The average number of skaters on the ice during a CanSkate program is 60 (this is on a North American sized-arena). The exact number will vary depending on a number of variables: size of club, number of professional coaches, amount of ice time. Our clubs are required to provide at least 10-minutes of professional instruction to each group of children (generally about 10 children per group). Therefore, if there were 60 minutes of ice time and only one professional coach, 60 skaters would be the maximum for that CanSkate session.

PROGRAM STRUCTURE, AWARDS AND INCENTIVES: The CanSkate program is structured in a grid-format, consisting of the development of six fundamental movements: GO forward, GO backwards, STOP, TURN, SPIN and JUMP organized in six stages of learning, with an optional 7th level for skaters wishing to progress into figure skating. The skills are arranged in progressions, from very simple to the more complex. Each stage has a primary focus. Once the skills on 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 and Stage 7 Pre-Preliminary.

Fundamental Movement Stage 1 Balance Stage 2 Glide Fwd Stage 3 Glide Bkwd Stage 4 Edges Stage 5 Power Stage 6 Speed Optional Stage 7 Pre-Preliminary Award
Go-forward               Go-foward
Go-backward               Go-backward
Stop               Stop
Turn               Turn
Spin               Spin
Jump               Jump
Award Stage 1 Balance Stage 2 Glide Fwd Stage 3 Glide Bkwd Stage 4 Edges Stage 5 Power Stage 6 Speed Optional Stage 7 Pre-Preliminary Award
Optional Challenge Skills                

Skaters may also progress horizontally across the grid and complete fundamental movements. 

Completing the entire fundamental movement, "STOP" for example, will earn them the STOP badge.

Skate Canada has produced a series of awards and incentives which coaches are to use to reward participation and effort. Clubs may also choose to distribute additional incentives such as ribbons, additional colouring sheets, hand stamps, their own stickers and special treats for different occasions - the possibilities are endless.

At the bottom of each Stage is a series of optional challenge skills. The challenge is in the learning and performing of these skills for fun. They can also be used to identify talented skaters.


  • CanSkate is the only learn-to-skate program offered by Skate Canada clubs 
  • all participants must be Skate Canada registered members 
  • minimum 1 Skate Canada Professional Coach teaching on the ice; Program Assistants assist as required 
  • 1:10 coach/Program Assistant to skater ratio 
  • minimum 10 minute lesson to each group by Skate Canada Professional Coach (out of a 50-minute session) 
  • 90% continuous movement - little standing around, no waiting to take turns to practice skills 
  • use entire ice surface at least once during session to promote speed 
  • evidence of sufficient movement/progress of skaters from one level to the next (skaters should not be held back) 
  • use circuits and stations to teach and practice skills 
  • use variety of age-appropriate activities, teaching methods (target groups: preschool, mainstream, adult) 
  • use music, teaching aids, props 
  • use Skate Canada developed awards and incentives; may use additional incentives such as stickers, stamps, etc.

All of the CanSkate program materials, manuals, awards and incentives can be purchased by Skate Canada member clubs, skating schools and professional coaches through our online store at or by calling 1.888.747.2372.



CanPowerSkate, which provides an alternative to figure skating, focuses on teaching balance, power, agility, speed and endurance skills which are especially important for hockey and ringette players.

A maximum of 30-32 skaters on a standard North American ice surface is recommended, with a skater/coach ratio of approximately 10:1.

The program consists of Levels 1 through 6 with a bronze, silver and gold award for each level. A Pre-power component of 3 levels, A, B, and C, is also available for young skaters who which to learn skating basics in a power skating-specific environment.

CanPowerSkate employs a unique skill assessment procedure for Levels 1-6 which involves skating through a set skills course, which skaters practice and prepare for during their weekly sessions. Performance is assessed based on accuracy of skill execution and speed.

Similar to the CanSkate program, Pre-Power awards are given once the skills of each level are mastered.

Only Coaches trained at Primary STARSkate and higher, and certified at a CanPowerSkate Coaches Course, are qualified to instruct the CanPowerSkate program. Any Skate Canada club or sanctioned skating school offering the CanPowerSkate program must have a certified CanPowerSkate coach teaching the program.

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