'It's Great to Skate' Open House Outline

Duration of Program: 1 1/2-2 hours each clinic
Mission Statement: To have every person in the United States be introduced to ice skating!

Many programs will attract new families who may never have tried ice skating, but having an open house and offering free lessons at the local rink will entice them to tie up some skates and give it a try. Try to incorporate some of these ideas to make your event fun and inclusive for everyone.

Goals of the 'It's Great to Skate' open house:
    1. To increase participation and generate enthusiasm in U.S. Figure Skating programs and figure skating clubs
    2. To offer a free introductory skating lesson, free skate rental and lots of fun!
    3. To teach the proper techniques to beginner skaters

General outline of activities

Off-Ice Orientation:
  • Welcome to the facility, verbal tour of facility, promote programming opportunities
  • Introductions of staff members and rink personnel
  • Viewing of a skating DVD or intro video
  • Discussion about proper equipment, explaining skates, what to look for, how to lace, proper fit, where to shop for skates (use hand-out)
  • Discussion about recommended attire, helmets, warm-up stretches
  • Divide into groups based upon skating experience (assign colors):
    • Never skated/public skated only (Snowplow 1/Basic 1) - green
    • Forward and backward skating skills & stops (Basic 2-3) - red
    • Crossovers and turns (Basic 4-8) - blue
    • Basic Skills jumps and spins (Free skate levels) - purple
    • Break into smaller groups with instructor rink side and give off-ice safety discussion

On-Ice Lesson and Skating Session:
  • On-ice lesson time - half hour maximum
  • Open skating time after lesson - all instructors float - half hour maximum
  • Mini exhibition or skating demonstrations from local skaters
  • Play games and offer on-ice supervised activities

  • Distribute lesson and programming information
  • Distribute coupons for free public skating with schedules of facility events
  • Q & A time with staff
  • Door prize drawing

Registration Table:
  • At least two volunteers
  • Registration materials
  • Colored name tags
  • Waiver and releases
  • Public skating schedules
  • Lesson information, figure skating club and hockey information
  • Coupons - 20 percent off the next Basic Skills group lesson session
  • "Bring a Friend" public skating passes
  • Give-away materials

Each open house will need at least 10 trained staff for the session to run smoothly:
  • Director
  • Welcoming committee
  • Five skating professionals
  • Two on-ice assistants
  • Skaters for demonstration and assistance
  • Registration table staff

'It's Great to Skate' Open House

Sample agenda of activities - Timeline is a guideline only
(Duration of the clinic - 1 1/2 hours total, one hour on ice)

at registration table/sign wavier
Welcome to the facility - verbal tour
Introductions of staff members and rink personnel

Discussion about proper equipment, explaining skates, what to look for, how to lace, proper fit, where to shop for skates (use hand-out), recommended attire, helmets, warm-up stretches

Break into smaller groups by skating experience with instructor and have an off-ice orientation. Group sizes should be determined by number of rental skates, available staff and ice space. Use colors to designate groups and levels on participant nametags.

Skating experience of participants:

  • Never skated/public skated only (Snowplow 1/Basic 1)
  • Forward and backward skating skills and stops (Basic 2-3)
  • Crossovers and turns (Basic 4-8)
  • Basic Skills jumps and spins (Freeskate levels)

On-ice lesson time - have a lesson plan and skills ready prior to session

Open skating time after lesson - all instructors float
Play a skating game with the children
Mini exhibition/skating demonstration
Distribute lesson information, coupons for free public skating with schedules of facility events
Door prize drawing

Make sure that everyone leaves the facility with an understanding of skating, programs your rink has to offer, information to take home and share with others and, most important, a smile on their face!

Detailed Curriculum

Below is the detailed curriculum explanation. The schedule you decide upon for your promotion should include this curriculum but can be tailored to meet the goals and needs you have for your event. Changes will almost always occur so be prepared and be flexible.

Welcome: Take a few minutes to welcome the participants and cover the general layout of the facility. Cover the facility logistics i.e. where the phones, bathrooms and first aid are located.

Introductions: Introduce the staff and the volunteers. Take a moment to allow the staff and volunteers to share a bit of their skating experiences and to assure these participants that they started out just like them. This will serve as a good icebreaker and begin to establish the confidence between the staff and the participants. Give a brief overview of the promotion and what the participants can expect from the program.

Equipment: Skates must fit properly! Skates that are uncomfortable or are too big will become a frustration to the participants. Many people quit skating before they really give it a chance because "it hurt my feet/ankles." Please take the time to explain proper fitting of skates, what to look for in selecting a pair of skates, how to lace them properly and practice walking in their skates before they take to the ice.

Fitting tip: "Your feet should not move around inside your boots, especially the heel. Your heel should be as far back into the boot as possible and should feel snug. Another important factor is support. Skates that lack adequate support can’t hold you up; you wind up using a lot of your muscle power just to stay upright. Keep trying on skates until you find a pair that fits. Rental skates are made to fit everyone; therefore they fit no one precisely. Be aware that your skate size is not the always the same as your shoe size. The boots should feel snug but your toes shouldn't be pinched. The closer the fit, the more control you will have. Wear thin socks or tights, heavy socks will take up space and force you into a larger size than you need."

Lacing tips: "How skates look when they are laced up can offer a clue as to how well they fit. Tap your heel back into the boot as far as possible. Pull the tongue completely up (giving it a gentle pull) and try to secure it straight up and down then tuck it beside your foot. Starting with the second or third set of laces from the bottom, begin to pull the laces tightly, one pair at a time, so the boot closes well over the front of your foot. It is important not to let the laces slip. The laces should be snug through the ankle area and the bottom two sets of hooks. The top two can be a little bit looser to allow for some flexibility. If extra lace remains, try to cross it over the hooks neatly. Do not wind the extra lace around the skates if possible. Beware of loose flying bows as they can cause accidents. When skates are laced effectively there should be enough room, with ankles flexed, to stick a finger down between the back of the boot and your leg. If your skate hurts or doesn't feel right, spend time re-lacing and adjusting."

Information adapted from the Skater's Edge newsletter.

Break into groups: Dividing up your participants into smaller more manageable groups by age and ability will make the experience more positive for everyone involved. Use colors or characters that can be easily recognized for the groupings. The suggested ability divisions and skill lists can be found on page 8 in this manual. Try to organize your groups in the lobby area prior to going onto the ice to minimize confusion. Use your assistants for the "Never Skated/Public Skated" group levels to ensure participants enough personal attention to give them the confidence to try.

Allow time for open skating: Bring everyone together for a brief recap of their skating lesson, allow your instructors and assistants to "float" around answering questions and offering advice, turn on the radio and get the people moving around the rink, practicing on their own.

Come together as a group: This would be the time to do the give-a-way prizes and handout the participant prizes. Each person should receive a "gift" and program information. Making this a fun little awards ceremony would be a great way to finish off the program. Be sure to let the participants know how they can become a permanent part of your program.

List of other activities and ideas:

  • Free open skating and mini lessons on the basics of skating
  • Exhibitions of local recreational/competitive skaters
  • Skating demonstrations
  • Organized and controlled races
  • Skills competition
  • Public carnival and clinic
  • Bring a friend
  • On-ice games and rotating stations
  • Off-ice parent education
  • Club informational tables about how to get involved
  • Decorate the lobby
  • Refreshments
  • Recreational pick-up hockey game
  • Local news reporter/personality gets free lesson on the air, writes newspaper story
  • Raffle, silent auction and door prizes
  • School and pre-school promotions
  • Social ice dancing clinic for beginners
  • Costume contests
  • Mascot races
  • Discount coupon for upcoming skating sessions
  • Theme days throughout entire month
  • Scout day to earn merit badges/awards