CANSKATE is Skate Canada’s flagship learn to skate program, designed for beginners of all ages. CanSkate has a fresh new look and technical revisions include a renewed focus on teaching and mastering strong basic skills earlier to prepare skaters for all ice sports – hockey, ringette, speed skating and figure skating.
On-ice delivery focusing on continuous movement emphasizes the use of newer and more dynamic group teaching concepts including the Fast Track, Fun Zone and station rotation all of which has been proven to increase practice opportunities and improve the rate of skill acquisition among skaters. More visual aids and music are used to create a fun, stimulating and welcoming environment.
The CanSkate Learn-to Skate program is divided into two sessions:
PreCanSkate AGES 3-5
Our Pre-CanSkate program is for young children ages 3 to 5 that are complete beginners who are not quite ready to enter our CanSkate program – no previous experience necessary! These 30-minute group lessons let children learn the basic skills of skating at their own pace, including how to fall and stand up by themselves to moving forwards and backwards, with a greater focus on fun and play.
Pre-CanSkaters will receive a ribbon once they have completed all the requirements of the level. Participation badges may be awarded as well. Once the Pre-CanSkater passes all the skills required, they will be welcome to join our CanSkate program.
What will they will Learn?
- Fall down & get up
- Balance on two feet
- Move forward
- Make snow
- Move backwards
- Two-foot twist
- 360 march
- Two-foot jump
CanSkate AGES 5+
CanSkate is a 50 min dynamic learn-to-skate program that focuses on fun, participation and basic skill development. Based on Sport Canada’s long-term athlete development (LTAD) principles, CanSkate centers on physical literacy and the fundamental skills needed to take part in any ice sport or to skate as a recreational activity.
The program has 6 Stages, with each Stage split into three sections of skills: Balance, Agility, and Control. Once the required number of skills needed to pass a section is completed, the skater passes that section of the Stage. Once a skater passes all three sections, they pass the Stage and move on to the next.
Example: To pass Stage 1, the skater must pass Balance 1, Agility 1, and Control 1.
There are ribbons for every skill section and badges for every stage. Rewards will be given at the end of the session after assessments.
HOW DO THE SESSIONS WORK?
- CanSkate sessions will start with a coach-led session warm-up choreographed to music.
- Skaters will then separate into their assigned colour groups and meet their first coach at their first station (Balance, Agility, or Control). Our sessions run in a 3-station format, and skaters will rotate between them while receiving instruction from each station’s respective coach.
- Skaters will then participate in a group activity that involves full-body movement across the entire ice.
- Finally, skaters will join the cool down to calm their heart rate before leaving the ice.
Groups will be formed based on the skater’s level. Split classes may be made based on numbers.
The format of the session may change depending on the number of skaters.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is CanSkate?
CanSkate is a dynamic learn-to-skate program that focuses on fun, participation and basic skill development. Based on Sport Canada’s long term athlete development (LTAD) principles, CanSkate centers on physical literacy and the fundamental skills needed to take part in any ice sport or to skate as a recreational activity.
Who’s it for?
For beginners of all ages, as well as for those wishing to improve their basic skills whether their focus be for figure skating, hockey, speed skating or just skating for fun.
Who teaches it?
Groups are led by a NCCP certified professional coach. Professional coaches are assisted by trained Program Assistants (volunteers). The coach/PA to student ratio is a maximum of 10:1. Skaters progress through the levels at their own rate.
Please make the coaching staff aware of your skater’s needs. Whether your skater wishes to develop skills for another sport or continue in the StarSkate program, our trained professional staff (NCCP certified) are qualified to help your skater reach his/her goals.
What will you learn?
A complete series of balance, control and agility skills taught in six stages of learning that pertain to hockey, ringette, speed skating and figure skating as well as general recreational skating. CanSkate uses nationally-tested and proven curriculum and delivery methods that guarantee skater success in developing stronger basic skills and developing them faster.
What can you expect?
Action, movement and fun! Lessons are given in a group format with a coach-to-student ratio of a maximum 1:10. Skaters progress at their own rate and coaches make sessions active using teaching aids, upbeat music and a wide variety of activities that create a motivational environment and promote learning. Badges, ribbons and other incentives are used to benchmark skaters’ progress and reward effort and participation.
What do you need to participate?
All you need are skates, a CSA-approved hockey helmet, long pants, mittens, warm sweater or jacket. Dress in layers – it will get warm!
★ Proper-fitting CSA-approved helmet. Look for the sticker! No bike or ski helmets allowed or the skater will not be allowed on the ice. We do not have extra helmets to provide. The helmet should be snug on the head and cover the forehead at least up to two fingers above the eyes. There should be a maximum of one finger space between the strap and the chin.
Face cages are optional but suggested for beginners who may need the extra protection.
Skaters working on STAGE 6 or higher may choose to continue to wear a helmet at their discretion. The skater’s parents/guardians have the final say as to whether or not the skater will or will not wear a helmet.
★ Proper-fitting laced hockey or figure skates that provide lots of ankle support. Plastic skates are highly discouraged. Make sure the skates are sharpened before you step onto the ice and that they are dried after each session or else they could rust. Skate sharpening is usually recommended at least once per season depending on the skater’s level.
DO NOT walk on cement without blade guards.
★ Waterproof gloves or mittens, especially for Pre-CanSkate and CanSkate Stages 1-4.
★ Warm, layered clothing or splash pants that allow for easy movement.
Review this video to learn more about Skate Canada's CanSkate Program
What can I expect the first day of skating?
Please be sure to bring your skates, CSA-approved hockey helmet (mandatory) and warm apparel. Plan on arriving 20 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 placed on the skater's name tag. Skaters 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 programs. We ask parents to watch their children from the stands and away from the ice entrance doors. 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.
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 into 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
What do the coloured badge stickers mean?
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. 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 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.
What skating skills are assessed at each CanSkate level?
Coaches assess skater's skating skills at regular intervals throughout the season. Reports cards are given to skaters at the end of each session (December and March), with ribbons and badges distributed regularly upon successful skills assessment. Parents can also view their child's progress in their Uplifter account.
To view a video demonstration of each element, please visit Skate Canada's development video page.
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 crisscrossed 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
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 into 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!
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.
What is the Skate Canada membership fee? Do I have to pay for it?
Skate Canada is the national sport organization for skating. As a Skate Canada sanctioned club, Zorra Skating Club must register all skaters with Skate Canada. The membership fee 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.
Are there strategies to help my child progress more quickly from CanSkate into StarSkate?
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.
Are private lessons available?
Maybe! If you feel your skaters need extra one-on-one attention, the club has freelance coaches that may be available and willing to help. The cost and payment for lessons would be between you and the coach. Check out our Coaches page to find a coach.
What happens after CanSkate?
After the skater completes Stage 6 of CanSkate, they have several options to choose from: they can join our STARSkate program as a competitive or recreational figure skater, or participate in other sports such as hockey or speed skating. By completing the CanSkate program, skaters will have learned skills to carry forward for the rest of their lives regardless of which path they choose to take.
Learn more about our STARSkate program here.
What are Program Assistants?
Program assistants (PAs) are individuals who help coaches deliver the CanSkate or
CanPower program. Program assistants may be current skaters at the club, former skaters or skaters from other sports (hockey, ringette, speed skating, etc.)
Interested in learning more, or how you can get involved? See our program section here to learn more.