Train Like an Olympic Figure Skater

You'll need a rink, a coach, a meal plan, and a daily schedule

Person ice skating.
Martin Rose / Getty Images

With the right mindset, all young figure skaters can train like Olympians do, but a number of steps are involved. These include finding a place to train and a coach to train with, preparing a schedule and a balanced meal plan, and setting realistic but ambitious goals. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Find a Place to Train

First, you must find a place to train on the ice. Not all ice arenas are the same. Some rinks may be only for recreational skating or for ice hockey, while other rinks may be geared especially for figure skating. They will have coaches on staff who are able to take an ice skater all the way from the beginning stages of the sport to the elite level.

Find an Accomplished Coach

Finding the right coach is essential, and many people believe that only those who teach skating full time can make champions. Look for a coach who is patient, professional, and passionate about molding and teaching young skaters.

Taking one or two private lessons a week is important. One private lesson per day is ideal, but private ice skating instruction is expensive, so that might not be possible for many skaters.

Set a Schedule

Ice skating is a skill that involves much practice. Figure skaters with Olympic dreams need to practice every day for at least three to four hours. Ballet and off-ice conditioning and training are also recommended.

A good sample daily schedule is: 

  • 4:30 a.m.: Wake up, get dressed, and eat a light breakfast.
  • 5:30 a.m.: Arrive at the rink to do off-ice training and jumping.
  • 6 and 6:45 a.m.: Skate and practice two 45-minute freestyle sessions.
  • 7:30 a.m.: Leave the rink and head to school.
  • 3 p.m.: Return to the rink and do more off-ice training and jumping.
  • 3:30 and 4:15 p.m.: Skate and practice two 45-minute freestyle sessions.
  • 5:15 p.m.: Take a ballet class or participate in an off-ice workout.
  • 6 p.m.: Eat dinner.
  • 6:45 p.m.: Do homework.
  • 8 p.m.: Go to bed early.

Make a Balanced Meal Plan

Figure skaters of all ages must eat a healthy and balanced diet. Eating right should begin when ice skaters are young. Here is a sample daily menu:

  • Breakfast: Juice, cereal, milk, and fruit
  • Mid-Morning snack: Fruit or yogurt
  • Lunch: Soup, turkey sandwich, lettuce, tomato, mustard, pickle, carrots, and oatmeal cookies
  • Afternoon snack: Grapes, string cheese, or crackers
  • Dinner: Lean meat, baked potato, green vegetable, and salad
  • Evening snack: Peanut butter, graham crackers, and milk

Set Competition Goals

Figure skating tests, following programs such as the U.S. Figure Skating Basic Skills Test Program and the Ice Skating Institute (ISI) tests, make it possible for figure skaters to compete in certain competitions. These skating tests also carry weight on an ice skater’s resume. Additionally, competition experience is essential for skaters with Olympic dreams.

Every year, a skater, his or her coach, and the family should evaluate a figure skater's progress, set goals for the season, and work toward achieving those goals.

Beginning figure skaters do not have to join a figure skating club, but as they advance, a time may come when joining a club becomes necessary. All Olympic figure skaters are members of figure skating clubs, U.S. Figure Skating or Skate Canada, or the ice skating association that governs skating in their home country.

It's also important to remember that skating, more than many sports, is an art form as well as an athletic endeavor. So seeking an education and training in the arts—especially music, dance, and theater—will help young skaters grow into more complete, well rounded performers on the ice as well as more interesting people.