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CanSkate Update # 2 - Reminders & Key Messages - October 2015

The new CanSkate Program 2015-2016

Reminders and Key Messages for Clubs and Coaches

 Season Two of the new CanSkate program is about to unfold!

To help you prepare for another exciting year of skating we have compiled some important reminders, tips and key messages regarding the delivery of CanSkate.  These are based on comments, questions and feedback received from clubs and coaches through our Club Support initiative, our CanSkate Resource Team observing sessions, CanSkate Coach University graduates, CanSkate Learning Facilitators and other coaches in the field.

 On-ice / Technical Reminders

  • Teaching Forward skating – forward skating is to be taught using a natural rhythm and swaying of the arms from front to back, moving from the core, as in a walking or running motion. Avoid the old-school method of arms held out rigidly to the sides (as in tightrope walker) with a straight back.
  • Backward skating – before adding backward skating to a warm-up or group activity, coaches must judge the level of skaters to ensure they are capable of doing the skill safely.  Especially at the beginning of a season, if there are young, Pre-CanSkate and early Stage 1 or 2 skaters on the ice who have not yet been exposed to backward skating, use forward skating until such time as backward skating is introduced during the lesson periods.
  • Pre-CanSkate (or new Stage 1 skaters) group rotation – Coaches can use their judgement as to when these young and/or new skaters are ready to begin rotating with other groups from station to station. It may be necessary for coaches to rotate with the skaters or depending on the level and numbers on the ice to remain in one area until the skaters get their bearings, can recognize their coach and PA and become familiar with the on-ice routine.  The reason for this is that some very young/new skaters can get “lost” on the ice and become panicked. 
  • Rink doors and supervision
    • Close rink doors once the session begins and supervise skaters very carefully, so as to avoid any stray skaters getting off the ice without being seen.
    • Coaches must teach the skaters about on-ice safety – how to be courteous and watch for others who may be younger or slower skaters (no bumping into other skaters, keeping their eyes up); how to safely circulate around the ice (outer perimeter for faster skaters, inner perimeter or circle for slower skaters) and on the Fast Track.
  • Warm-up
    • Ensure that either a coach or a PA is designated to lead the warm-up, which should be structured and choreographed to music. This is an integral part of the program from a fitness safety perspective for skaters to warm up their muscles and joints to avoid injury.
    • Be aware of the movements used for warm-ups and cool-downs – use movements that are generic in nature. As CanSkate is a general learn-to-skate program, avoid arm and leg movements that are “figure skating” oriented 
  • Using the Fast Track / Specifications
    • The Fast Track width is flexible depending on when and how it is being used as well as the number of skaters on a session.
    • When using the Fast Track as part of the Warm-Up, Group Activity or Cool-Down the width is wider to accommodate many skaters at once. Depending on the numbers of skaters on your session the width could range from 5 to 8 feet.
    • When using the Fast Track during the lesson time of the session the amount of space needed in the width is not as imperative, as there will only be a select few skaters on the fast track at any one time.
    • To encourage safety, when coaches send the skaters onto the Fast Track during the lesson time, one of their instructions must be to have the skaters keep their eyes up and watch where they are going. Skaters must learn to be in control of their movement.

Off-ice / Administrative

  • CanSkate curriculum – The CanSkate program consists of six levels, Stages 1 to 6. As a national brand it must always be presented and advertised as such. Clubs may opt to schedule Stages 1-3 on one session and Stages 4-6 on another, for example, but the program must still be promoted and marketed as having six stages.
  • CanSkate awards
    • The CanSkate awards consist of a series of 18 ribbons (Balance, Control and Agility x 6 stages) and six Stage badges. Clubs are expected to use both the ribbons and the badges – more importantly the ribbons, as they are the incremental rewards that are vital to the new curriculum and will motivate skaters to continue on in the program.
    • Distribution of awards – Once a skater masters the skills of a fundamental area, they should be awarded the ribbon the following week. Providing incentives in a timely manner for achievements and effort will motivate skaters to work harder, promote continuous improvement and faster skill development

Sharing Ice / Private Lessons in CanSkate

  • CanSkate is a group lesson program. Group lessons have been designed to accelerate skaters through the program and ready them for the ice sport of their choice in a fun, interactive environment. Skaters at this level learn best alongside their peers. As well, cost effectiveness for parents at this stage of learning is a key consideration. In light of this, private lessons in CanSkate are strongly discouraged. Private lessons may be offered in special circumstances in which a skater has special needs and requires extra attention for skill development. In cases like this, coaches may deliver private lessons during the warm–up or group activity/cool–down portion of the session, but only if safety and numbers on the ice warrant. The number one priority for a club is to ensure that the essence of this program remains true to its objectives; therefore, the needs of the program come first. The program requirements, including full use of ice by all CanSkate groups, must be maintained throughout the session except in the circumstances noted above.
  • In addition, coaches must always keep in mind what is best for the skaters at each stage of their development. At the Learn to Skate stage most skaters learn best in a fun, active group environment alongside their peers, where they can take full advantage of all components of the CanSkate program (warm-up, lesson time, group activity and cool-down) as well as the delivery principles that are proven motivators for children – teaching aids, music, the fast track, the fun zone, group lessons, circuits and variety of activities. These motivators would not all be present in a private lesson, which would be unfortunate for those skaters.
  • Resources – Please remember to use all the resources that are available – there are many:
    • New CanSkate Skills Teaching tips video
    • CanSkate Skills videos
    • CanSkate: The Session videos 
    • CanSkate promotional materials – promo video, posters, brochure
    • CanSkate Manual
  • Refresh club website and club information – Be sure to remove any old CanSkate or Skate Canada logos and old information and replace with the new logos, the new look “Only the best can bring out their best” and program information.  See for updates.
  • Coach registration – Clubs must ensure that all new CanSkate coaches are registered coaching members in order to teach on a CanSkate session, including coaches with an “in-training” status.

We thank you for your continued dedication to the CanSkate program.  For more info on CanSkate please contact or call 1.888.747.2372

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