Parents: What You Need to Know About Figure Skating Levels

Written By: Riedell | May 17, 2018

When your child first expresses an interest in figure skating you were probably unaware of what comprises figure skating training. Upon calling your local ice arena or skate club, you’ll find that enrolling your child in skating isn’t as easy as you thought. Most figure skating clubs utilize a skill level system for teaching their skaters as opposed to sorting skaters by age. If your child is very young, they will most likely be put in the Snowplow Sam classes; these are the very first levels that skaters can start in. If you have an older child, the instructor might need to see them skate to be able to assess what level to start them in. Older children typically start with basic level one, two, or three.

Confused? Don’t be. Below we’ve outlined the skills needed to pass each staking level from Snowplow Sam one through basic level eight. Run through these skills with your child to see where they might be able to start their lessons. Not sure about a certain move? Our blog contains lots of helpful information that will help you understand this new sport.

Snowplow Sam Levels

Snowplow Sam 1

  • Sit and stand up with skates on – off-ice
  • Sit and stand up – on-ice
  • March in place
  • March forward (8-10 steps)
  • March, then glide on two feet
  • Dip in place

Snowplow Sam 2

  • March followed by a long glide
  • Dip while moving
  • Backward walking, toes turned inward, shifting weight (4-6 steps)
  • Backward wiggles (6 in a row)
  • Forward swizzles (2-3 in a row)
  • Beginning snowplow stop motion – in place or holding onto barrier
  • Two-foot hop, in place (optional)

Snowplow Sam 3

  • Forward skating (8-10 strides)
  • Forward one-foot glide, two times skater’s height (R and L)
  • Forward swizzles (4-6 in a row)
  • Backward swizzles (2-3 in a row)
  • Moving forward snowplow stop (two-foot)
  • Curves

*After Snowplow Sam 3 some coaches might recommend that skaters move on to basic 2.

Snowplow Sam 4

  • Forward skating
  • Backward two-foot glide, length of skater’s height
  • Backward swizzles (4-6 in a row)
  • Rocking horse – one forward, one backward swizzle, repeat twice
  • Two-foot turns from forward to backward, in place (both directions)
  • Two-foot hop, in place

Basic Levels

After a skater has completed the snowplow levels they will advance to the basic levels. There are eight basic levels through US Figure Skating®. The “basic” skills are the fundamentals of figure skating. All of the skills learned in this series will travel with your skater for the rest of their career. After the completion of the eight basic levels skaters will be able to advance on to more specialized areas of skating such as singles, pairs, ice dancing, or synchronized skating. Some young skaters that started with the Snowplow program may skip the first two basic levels, but older skaters who start with basic 1 and do not participate in the Snowplow Sam program will be encouraged to proceed through each basic level.

Basic 1

  • Sit on ice and stand up
  • March forward across the ice
  • Forward two-foot glide
  • Dip
  • Forward swizzles – 6–8 in a row
  • Backward wiggles – 6–8 in a row
  • Snowplow stop
  • Rocking horse – 2–3
  • Two-foot hop in place (optional)

Basic 2

  • Forward one foot glides – R and L
  • Backward two-foot glide
  • Backward swizzles – 6–8 in a row
  • Two-foot turn from forward to backward in place
  • Moving snowplow stop
  • Forward alternating half swizzle pumps, in a straight line (slalom-like pattern)

Basic 3

  • Forward stroking, showing correct use of blade
  • Forward half swizzle pumps on a circle – 6–8 consecutive clockwise and counterclockwise
  • Moving forward to backward two-foot turn – clockwise and counterclockwise
  • Backward one-foot glides – R and L
  • Forward slalom
  • Two-foot spin – up to two revolutions

Basic 4

  • Forward outside edge on a circle – R and L
  • Forward inside edge on a circle – R and L
  • Forward crossovers, clockwise and counterclockwise
  • Forward outside three-turn, R and L from a stand-still position
  • Backward half swizzle pumps on a circle, clockwise and counterclockwise
  • Backward stroking
  • Backward snowplow stop – R and L

Basic 5

  • Backward outside edge on a circle – R and L
  • Backward inside edge on a circle – R and L
  • Backward crossovers, clockwise and counterclockwise
  • Beginning one-foot spin – up to three revs, optional entry and free-foot position
  • Hockey stop
  • Side toe hop – both directions

Basic 6

  • Forward inside three-turn – R and L from a standstill position
  • Moving backward to forward two foot turn on a circle, clockwise and counterclockwise
  • T-stop – R or L
  • Bunny hop
  • Forward spiral on a straight line – R or L
  • Forward lunge – R or L

Basic 7

  • Forward inside open Mohawk from a standstill position – R to L and L to R
  • Backward outside edge to forward outside edge transition on a circle – R and L
  • Ballet jump – R and L
  • Backward crossovers to a backward outside edge glides (landing position), clockwise and counterclockwise
  • Forward inside pivots – R or L

Basic 8

  • Moving forward outside three-turn on a circle – R and L
  • Moving forward inside three-turn on a circle – R and L
  • Combination move: Forward crossovers (2) into forward inside Mohawk, cross behind, step into backward crossover (1) and step to forward inside edge
  • One-foot upright spin, optional entry and free-foot position
  • Waltz jump
  • Mazurka – R and L