Parent Education

This page serves to help break down and explain the sometimes daunting world of figure skating. If your child has decided to further pursue skating and move from Basic Skills upwards into the world of figure skating, this page is here to help you make some sense of it all.

USFS Membership

Each skater must be a member of Figure Skating Club of Memphis (FSCM) or another skating club to take part in any US Figure Skating (USFS) sanctioned event.  Membership is valid from July 1 – June 30 each year and dues cannot be pro-rated.  There are four types of main memberships listed below, as well as an Additional Family Membership.  Memberships information maybe found on the membership page and may be purchased here.

USFSA has a parents education page for Learn to Skate parents.  Check it out here

The Learn to Skate classes at the Mid-South Icehouse  follow the US Figure Skating Association format and work to progress your skater as they learn new skating skills using the Learn to Skate Format.  There are several different programs  included and you can find out more about them at the USFSA Learn to Skate website.

Basic Skills Program

This is where your skater will learn how to ice skate.  Our Club coaches will teach your skater the basic FUNdamentals in a group setting.  Come to class regularly and spend ample time practicing outside of the lesson.  This page is geared towards parents and skaters already enrolled in the Basic Skills program offered at the Mid-South Ice House.

Skate Academy

A skater will choose a discipline, typically Freestyle Skating.  A skater is free to choose more than one discipline, of course.  Other options include Pairs, Dance, Synchronized Skating.  Eventually, the better a skater becomes, they will focus on one  discipline, but early on it is encouraged for skaters to try different  avenues.  Skate Academy Classes offered by the rink are the bridge from Basic Skills into the world of Figure Skating.   Skaters participate in different supplemental classes, are introduced to the various disciplines, and learn what it takes to make it to the next level.  Skate Academy is open to skaters pre-free skate to free skate 6.  See the Mid-South Ice House Skate Academy page for more information on classes currently offered.

Becoming a Figure Skater

Most of you started skating by joining the Learn to Skate/Basic Skills  program offered through the Mid-South Ice House.  You are aware that  there are six basic levels in the Basic skills  and it serves to teach the fundamentals of ice skating for any discipline, but what comes after you have started pre-free skate?

US Figure Skating Levels When a skater has decided this is something they love and want to pursue it further, the next step is taking official USFS tests.   Your coach will recommend when to begin preparing for tests.  There are eight different levels with each level consisting of a “moves in the field” test and a “free skate test”:

  1. Pre-Preliminary
  2. Preliminary
  3. Pre-Juvenile
  4. Juvenile
  5. Intermediate
  6. Novice
  7. Junior
  8. Senior

There is a separate Adult Track, which is Pre-Bronze, Bronze, Silver, and  Gold.  After an Adult has passed their Gold Test, they would proceed to take the Intermediate test if they choose to continue.  See the Pipeline of US Figure Skating for a diagram further explaining the test and competitive levels.

Moves in the Field A skater must first pass the prerequisite Moves in the Field Test for each level before the respective free skating or free dance tests.  A skater may test consecutive Moves in the Field (MIF) levels without having passed any Free Skating (FS) levels.  An example would be a skater that has passed Juvenile MIF but no Free Skate test, so they will compete at Pre-Preliminary FS level.

Moves in the Field are basically, edges and turns.  Collectively, they encompass any extended edge move, or connecting moves, and can be included in footwork or step  sequences.  In the mid 1990’s, MIF replaced compulsory figures with tests of progressively difficult edge and step patterns.  Before, a skater would learn turns such as brackets, rockers and counters by tracing a  precise figure on the ice, whereas now, skaters are expected to perform  the turns with power, quickness, carriage, extension, and flow.  Here is a video of a Pre-Preliminary MIF test and a Senior Level MIF demonstration.

There is a separate Adult Track, which is Pre-Bronze, Bronze, Silver, and  Gold.  After an Adult has passed their Gold Test, they would proceed to take the Intermediate test if they choose to continue.  See the Pipeline of US Figure Skating for a diagram further explaining the test and competitive levels.

Free Skate Test  The  Free Skate Test is where the skater must skate the selected elements (jumps, spins and connecting steps) for the level testing on good edges, form, flow, power and preciseness.  The skater must also skate to music and utilize the ice (pre-preliminary does not require music).


The Basic Skills competitions promote a fun, introductory competitive experience for beginning skaters.  Basic Skills competitions are offered throughout the year at various rinks.  Skaters in the Basic Skills curriculum are eligible to compete at these events.

Once a skater has tested USFS, there are two different types, or ‘tracks,’ of competition in figure skating.  The Well Balanced Event (WB) has been around since the beginning; however it just has a new name.  In the past, a skater entered at their level and exhibited their skills.  There were few requirements as to what could be done at each level.  Some coaches would ‘sand bag’ by holding their skaters back levels to win the competition, even though the skater could and should have competed at a higher level.  USFS created the Excel Series that has Test Track and Excel Plus within the series, with hopes to retain skaters who might be discouraged by the high technical difficulty of some of the elements.  This type of competition has more restrictions about what is allowed at each level, so the competition is more at level playing field.  Skaters are offered opportunities for success in a competitive atmosphere and stay excited about their abilities.

For more information on the Excel Series Skating click EXCEL

A skater may begin competing at non-qualifying events before they have tested into the official USFS levels.  These TT events are called Beginner, High Beginner, and No Test.  Typically, skaters competing at these levels are at the USFS Free Skate levels 1-6, or just starting to enter the competition arena, and have not yet landed their axel.  Skaters that would like to compete in qualifying events, such as Regionals and Sectionals, would enter the more competitive WB Event at the Juvenile level, and some regions offer non-qualifying Test Track events at all levels.  Skaters competing at the  Juvenile and Intermediate levels can qualify to the US Junior Championships, and Novice, Junior and Senior competitors can qualify to the US Championships, often called Nationals.  There are international events at the Junior and Senior levels.  You see senior level skaters competing at the World Championships and Olympic Games.   There are also non-qualifying and qualifying competitions offered at the Adult Levels, and each year there is an Adult National Championship!

Group or Private Lessons?

The Figure Skating Club of Memphis encourages beginning skaters to participate primarily in group lessons.  If your skater needs supplemental or “booster” lessons to help pass a level, or if they decide to begin competing, then you will want to seek out a coach for private lessons.

When looking for a coach to set up regular private lessons with, be sure to do your homework and take your time.  The decision should be approached like any other major purchase.  This person will spend hours interacting with your child and will shape their attitude about skating and life.  Watch how coaches interact with their skaters on and off the ice.  Narrow your choices down to two or three coaches and set up a time to speak with them to see how you and your child interact with them.  This is a person you will see regularly, so it is important that you like them!  Discuss payment options and charges up front.  While you may know their on-ice lesson rate, most coaches charge for fees that take up their time off-ice, such as music editing, and competition fees.  Will you pay monthly or per lesson?  Read the following articles for more information on setting up private lessons.

The Skate Academy group classes are the bridge between Basic Skills and Figure Skating.  Eventually, private lessons will become the foundation of your figure skater’s program.  However, we urge skaters to take part in the Skate Academy program, as they receive instruction in the next level of figure skating training, which contributes to the complete skater.  Many skaters respond well to working in a group setting, skaters may ask questions that others might not have considered, and it promotes friendly competition amongst their peers.  Their basic skating quality is improved and participants develop a strong foundation in fundamental figure skating techniques.