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Frequently Asked Questions

(Click on an FAQ and it will take you to the answer!)


In which skating program should I enroll myself or my child?

I am interested in private lessons: how do I get started?

How do private lessons work?

How do I choose a private coach?

How do I change coaches?

What clothing is best for skating classes?

Which kind of skates should I buy?

What should I look for when I buy skates?

When should my skates be sharpened?

Where should I get my skates sharpened?

Does my child have to wear a helmet?

What kind of helmet should I buy?

How are groups organized?

My child is faster than the others in his or her group, so why isn't he or she moved up into the next group?

What happens if my child has to miss a skating class?

What happens at the end of CanSkate?



In which skating class should I enroll myself or my child? 

Forest Hill Figure Skating Club is proud to provide skating classes for all interests, ages and abilities.  Please see our Recreational and Figure Skating Program pages for more detailed information.



I am interested in privates lessons: how do I get started? 

If you have a coach in mind, let us know and we will get you in touch with each other. If you do not have a coach in mind, please let us know the times you are interested in for lessons; the age and ability of the skater; and length of the lesson desired; from there we will submit your request for private lessons to our roster of coaches and they will contact you directly. 


How do private lessons work?

When you arrange private instruction, the cost is split two ways: You pay the Club for ice time and the coach for instruction. Coaches set their own rate for private lessons. Most have a preferred procedure for invoicing and receiving payment. To avoid unwanted surprises, you should find out these details when arranging lessons.

When you arrange private lessons the coach is working directly for you, the client. Any communication about progress, problems, or absences should be handled directly. Make sure you know your coach's policy on missed lessons. A coach may charge for a missed lesson if you do not give adequate notice.



How do I choose a private coach? 

A good working relationship between a skater and a coach is crucial. Coaches have different styles of teaching (eg: nurturing vs demanding); skaters have different priorities and learn in different ways (eg: ambitious vs cautious). When the coach and skater mesh well, lessons are fun and productive; if the coach and skater do not get along, lesson time will be frustrating and unpleasant for everyone involved.

There is no guaranteed formula for picking the coach who will be best for any particular skater. However, there are some things you can do to increase the probability of success:

  • Check out coaches’ resumes. Many coaches have specialties: eg. a level of skater or a personality type

  • Watch coaches teaching other skaters. Even if you can't hear what is going on, body language tells a story: Does there appear to be good two way communication? Are they laughing or serious? Does the coach demonstrate / explain?

  • Ask your child if there is a particular coach they would like. Ask other skaters who they like. Ask parents for their recommendations.

  • Talk to the coach. Try to catch the coach when they are not in a lesson or racing to get to a lesson. If this is not possible, our office staff can arrange for a coach to contact you.

You (the skater or parent) must make initial contact with a coach for private lessons. Coaches are not allowed to recruit students.  The best time to catch a coach is before or after a session; please don't interrupt them during group or private lessons.



How do I change private coaches? 

The relationship between coach and skater is like any other - it has its up and downs. Usually, you can ride out the rough spots (performance plateaus, disagreements, and many other difficulties). Occasionally, a change is the only solution.  Changing coaches is never easy, but there are a few things you can do to minimize the problems:

  • Discuss the problem with the coach. You don't have to give a reason for changing, but it should be considered as a courtesy.
  • Settle any outstanding invoices. A new coach will not take on a skater who has an outstanding debt with another coach.

  • Learn from the experience (the good as well as the bad) and move on.


Please see the Professional Coaches’ Code of Ethics for details on how coaches are supposed to handle coaching changes.


What clothing is best for skating classes?

Clothing should keep skaters warm but not restrict their ability to move. Typically the more active a skaters are, the less they need to wear. As a general rule, layers work better than bulk: fleece for insulation and nylon for moisture resistance is a perfect combination. Bulky snow suits are often a problem because they make it too difficult for skaters to get up after a fall.  Jeans are not a good choice: the cotton in the jeans absorbs and holds moisture. Cold and wet is uncomfortable. Gloves or mittens are mandatory in all PreCanSkate, and CanSkate classes.



Which kind of skates should I buy? 

Canskate skills can be done on either figure skates or hockey skates. For a first time skater, this decision is not really critical. Kids will outgrow skates long before the type of skate has a significant effect on performance. The most important factor is the quality and support of the boot. Some skills are easier to perform on one kind of skate or the other, but the coach’s expectation is adjusted accordingly.



What should I look for when I buy skates? 

Modern skates provide firm support around the ankles. To accomplish this, the skate manufacturer installs stiff leather inserts between the outer and inner layers of the boot. Old skates may lack this stiffness; in used skates, it may be broken down from use or abuse.  Please see a list below of things to watch out for when buying skates:

  • With the skates laced up snugly, the ankles should be straight so that the skate becomes a natural extension of the leg. If the skater's ankles lean inward or outward, the skater will have difficulty balancing (particularly on one foot).

  • Molded plastic skates are not a good choice. They provide a lot of support but they cannot be 'broken in'. This prevents the boot from flexing properly to allow the skater the required range of motion.  The plastic skates with buckles instead of laces may be convenient but they often come loose leaving the skater with no support whatsoever.

  • Skates should fit more snugly than regular shoes, particularly around the heel. A properly fitting skate should have no more than 1/2 inch of space at the toe. The skater should be able to wiggle toes inside the boot, but the heel should not move at all in the skate. The ball of the foot should come just ahead of the point where the sole starts to cut in for the arch. This ensures the proper positioning of the arch and is extremely important.  The front opening of the boot should be sufficiently wide to pull the laces tight. The tongue should be sufficiently wide so that it will stay in place; the tongue should also be well padded to prevent laces from cutting into the foot.

  • Skates that are too small will be very uncomfortable for skaters and their feet will tend to get cold very quickly in too-small skates. Skates that are too big do not provide sufficient ankle support and may even cause blisters due to rubbing inside the boot.

  • Skates should be worn with one pair of thin socks. Thick or extra socks may appear to fill up the space in a skate that is too big. However, as soon as the skater tries to exert pressure against the boot, the extra thickness compresses and the skate doesn't provide the needed support. Never buy skates that are too big so they will last another season.

  • Skates should be laced fairly loosely over the toe and front of the foot, but snugly over the ankles. Laces should be hooked securely with sufficient tension to permit one finger down the back of the boot. Laces should be long enough to be tied in a double bow and tucked in.

  • A new pair of skates must be sharpened before they are used. An un-sharpened skate has a flat surface on the bottom of the blade. It will easily slide sideways when the skater tries to push. The sharpening stone grinds a concave contour which produces the two 'edges' that dig into the ice.


The skating surface of a skate blade:


Not every salesperson is aware of this!


When should my skates be sharpened?  

The rule of thumb for skate sharpening is to sharpen after every 30 to 50 hours of ice time. Use these hours as a rough guideline: need for skate sharpening can be greatly affected by use and care.

  • Continuous use of guards will keep skates sharper longer.

  • Walking across a concrete floor is fatal for your sharpening.

  • Failing to wipe blades dry and/or storing skates with plastic guards on can result in rust forming on the bottom of the blades, which will cause slippage.

A good test for sharpness is to scrape a thumb nail across (not along!) the blade. If the blade takes fine shavings, it is sharp; if the blade does not, maybe it's time to get the skates sharpened. Be sure to check both the inside and outside edges of the blade. Inside edges often get more wear than outside. For tests and competitions, consider a sharpening a week or two before the big day. Not the day before!



Where should I sharpen my skates?

Sporting goods stores and arena pro shops are fine for hockey skates but should not be used for sharpening figure skates. The machines used at these shops will take too much off at the front and back of the blade and will change the balance of the blade dramatically, thus shortening the life of the blades. Occasionally, a misguided salesperson will suggest grinding off the bottom toe pick of a figure skate for a beginner skater. Don't do it! The toe picks are important for maintaining proper balance and posture. Please visit our link section to see suggestions for where to sharpen figure skates.



Does my child have to wear a helmet? 

As per Skate Canada’s helmet regulations for CanSkate programs, skaters must have a CSA approved hockey helmet. All CanSkate and Adult CanSkate participants up to and including Stage Five (5) must wear a CSA approved hockey helmet while on the ice. This policy is enforced during all skating activities including competitions, carnival days or any other special on ice activities throughout the season for this level of skater.

Although optional, helmets with cages / face guards are highly recommended for young skaters and beginning skaters of all ages. View the Skate Canada Helmet Use Policy document.

Please note that skaters who do not have a proper fitting CSA approved hockey helmet will NOT be allowed on the ice.



What kind of helmet should I buy? 

Here are a few things to think about when shopping for a helmet:

  • Hockey helmets are the best for skaters. As stated above, CSA approved hockey helmets are mandatory for all CanSkate participants up to Stage 5. Hockey helmets provide excellent protection for the sides as well as the back of the head and are designed to withstand the frequent bumps that are part of hockey. A hockey helmet fitted with a visor or cage also protects the skater's face from the ice and anything else that poses a threat.

  • Ski or skateboard helmets are not permitted. These helmets protect the sides and back of the head, but cannot be fitted with a visor or cage to protect the face.

  • Bicycle helmets are strictly prohibited on the ice as they do not provide the necessary protection needed for skating.  Bicycle helmets are designed to absorb a single high-impact collision rather than the many little falls that happen in skating, and do not provide adequate protection for the back and sides of the head.

  • A poor-fitting helmet can shift on impact and make a possible injury worse.


How are groups organized?

Based on the information you as the parent or skater provide at registration, skaters are grouped by badge or ability level. Fitting new skaters into groups is done by coaches at the beginning of first session. Some adjustments in the first few weeks are to be expected. Often skaters who excel will be moved up to a higher group where they will be more challenged. Likewise, skaters who fall behind may be moved to a group where they will fit and feel better about their skating.



My child is faster than the others in his or her group, so why isn't he or she moved up into the next group?

This situation usually occurs because, even though the child is performing well at some skills (eg forward skating), they have not yet sufficiently mastered other skills (backward skating, stopping, etc). Failure to learn all of the skills at any stage will catch up and cause problems at the next level.  Aside from the motivational factor, one child being faster than the others in the group should not impede learning. Coaches normally work on several badge levels in the same lesson. Coaches review skills from previous stages, refine skills at the present stage, and introduce skills at the next stage.



What happens if my child has to miss a skating class?

If you or your child will miss more than two (2) classes please e-mail our office so we can inform the coach. Due to registration constraints, FHFSC is unable to provide make-up classes of any kind. Refunds will only be provided for medical reasons. Please see our policy page for more details.



What happens at the end of CanSkate?

After completing the CanSkate program, skaters will have all of the recreational skating skills to pave the way for a lifetime of enjoyment on ice. Skaters who choose to continue can move on to other Skate Canada programs including STARSkate (the figure skating test program) or CanPowerSkate (hockey skills).


Please send us an email at with any further questions or concerns you might have