TABLE OF CONTENTS. Starting and Managing a Successful Synchronized Skating Team 1. WHY SYNCHRONIZED SKATING?

Starting and Managing a Successful Synchronized Skating Team TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. WHY SYNCHRONIZED SKATING? 2. BASIC U.S. FIGURE SKATING INFORMATI...
Author: Ashlynn Hodge
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Starting and Managing a Successful Synchronized Skating Team






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Basic administrative rules Important information for teams How rules are made


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Your role within the team Team management responsibilities Role of the club-level synchronized skating director Expectations of a synchronized skating coach Paying your coach Travel Sample timeline of a season








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Club and synchronized skating team relationship

How to write a budget Sample budget Fundraising/sponsorship


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Parents education Resources Sample agenda for an introductory parents meeting

WHY SYNCHRONIZED SKATING? Synchronized skating is one of the most popular facets of U.S. Figure Skating. There are approximately 650 synchronized teams registered with U.S. Figure Skating. In recent years, approximately 5,000 athletes on more than 300 teams compete at the Sectional Synchronized Skating Championships. Synchronized skating is a “lifetime” sport. Athletes can begin at the Beginner / basic skills level, move up through the developmental levels of preliminary / pre-juvenile, then compete at the nationally competitive juvenile – senior levels. Synchronized Skating is now very popular at the collegiate level. In addition to the nearly 30 colleges and universities that offer synchronized skating as a student activity, club sport or even varsity sport, the majority of senior teams in the U.S., are also comprised of college students. After college, many athletes who enjoyed figure skating in their youth are moving onto Adult teams; with some adult teams serving as college alumni teams. The masters, open adult and new open masters levels provide adult athletes of any age or level an opportunity to start or continue in a sport they love! Benefits for clubs & rinks: •

Keep kids skating! Being part of a team adds a lot of fun to figure skating, especially approaching the teenage years when figure skaters have the desire to be part of a team.

Competing on a synchronized skating team is generally less expensive than competing at a comparable level is singles, which allows more families to stay in the sport.

The structure and organization of a synchronized team or program is attractive to families and athletes in planning their extra-curricular activities.

Promotes club loyalty. Being part of a team creates a sense of team spirit and loyalty among club members. Wearing “the jacket” and cheering for club/rink mates is one of the most fun parts of competitions.

Benefits for athletes: •

Athletes improve and develop skating skills.

Athletes learn all of the valuable life lessons that come from participating in a team sport.

Athletes at the high school and college level have opportunities to develop leadership skills which will help them in the next phase of their life.

Adult athletes enjoy participating in the sport for fitness and social outlets.

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INTRODUCTION As the National Governing Body (NGB) of the sport, U.S. Figure Skating’s primary role is to provide the structure, support, and competitive rules to ensure an appropriate athlete development pipeline, encourage achievement and participation, and ensure fair play among teams. Every team and/or organization is responsible for setting up a program that works for their area, for their club, and their athletes. U.S. Figure Skating does not dictate how a synchronized skating team is run or managed. Every team is encouraged to take the time to figure out what will work best for them, and most importantly: 1. To be honest and transparent with all of their participants. 2. To put their communications and policies in writing to ensure that all participants understand what they are signing up form.

BASIC ADMINISTRATIVE RULES There are a few basic administrative rules that every U.S. Figure Skating team must follow.

Membership/Eligibility All members of a synchronized skating team must be members of U.S. Figure Skating and members of the club the team represents (if the team represents a club). Membership and eligibility requirements can be found in Rule 3080 in the U.S. Figure Skating Rulebook. Rules of specific importance to all teams are found below: Rule 3081 Membership – Synchronized Team Skating Each synchronized skating team must be registered with U.S. Figure Skating by team name, club representation (if representing a club) and with the name, of a contact person, etc. Rule 3085 Eligibility to Compete – Synchronized Team Skating All participants must be eligible members of reinstated persons and registered skaters. If a team represents a club, all team members must be members of the club the team represents, but it is not necessary for it to be their home club.

Any member of U.S. Figure Skating can start and register a synchronized skating team by going to their member profile through the Members Only web site: From there, you will set up a profile for the team, and the team will become an official member of U.S. Figure Skating! It is highly recommend that this process be completed by September 1st, though it can be done at any time. Once the team is set-up, it can be renewed annually.


Nonqualifying competitions set their own entry deadlines, usually about 60 days before the event. Each individual nonqualifying competition will dictate whether late entries will be accepted and, if so, what the late fee will be for such entries. Avoid potential difficulties by submitting entry applications as soon as possible.

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These competitions are collectively known as the “qualifying competition system.” All teams enter through U.S. Figure Skating’s online system: The coach and team contact person associated with the team must fill out the entry from by logging onto their own account. All teams enter once, and should they advance to the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships, their registration will automatically advance. Teams will complete their official registration through U.S. Figure Skating, but will also be asked for fillout additional “extra” forms from the Local Organizing Committee (LOC). These are for things like extra practice ice, tickets, pins, programs, etc. If they qualify for the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships, they will need to fill out another set of “LOC forms,” specific to that competition. The entry deadline for the Sectional Synchronized Skating Championships is 11:59p.m., in the time zone of your team’s home club, December 1. This date is in the U.S. Figure Skating rulebook, and is a “hard deadline.” Late entries are not permitted for any reason.

Planned Program Content Sheets

All teams competing in juvenile, intermediate, novice, junior, senior or adult are required to complete a Planned Program Content Sheet (PPCS). Each team’s Planned Program Content Sheet must be completed via the Members Only profile of the contact person or coach listed on a team’s registration form at before each competition the team enters. PPCSs can be updated at any time up to about a week before each event. Coaches will be required to sign off on PPCSs when checking the team in at registration and will also be allowed to make any changes at this point.


General team rosters are submitted when a team registers with U.S. Figure Skating. This general roster is not binding, may be changed at any time. Teams may include any athletes associated with that program, even skaters who are not age or test level compliant. SECTIONAL SYNCHRONIZED SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS & U.S. SYNCHRONIZED SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

During the registration process for the Sectional Championships, teams will use this General roster, to build their official competition roster, moving members from the general roster, to the competition roster. At this point, all athletes moved onto the competition roster must be age and test level compliant, as well as the team as a whole, meeting all rules for the team. On the entry deadline of December 1, this becomes the team’s official roster for the qualifying system. No additions to the roster are allowed, however, substitutions may be allowed up to two weeks prior to the start of the next qualifying competition, and must be submitted electronically. Any athlete being substituted onto the team must have met the eligibility requirements as of December 1. (Note: There is no penalty for having athletes on the roster that do not compete at the event.) NONQUALIFYING COMPETITIONS

Unique rosters must be submitted for each competition that the team enters and may be changed from one nonqualifying competition to another. It is up to the LOC of each individual competition whether that competition will require that all skaters pass the moves-in-the-field test required for the level at which the team is competing. If the competition chooses to require this, the required test will likely have to be passed by the entry deadline. All age requirements must be upheld and are based on the age of the skater on the July 1 preceding the competition season.

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ALTERNATES Teams at all levels are permitted to list a maximum of four (4) alternates on their competition roster. These four alternates are in addition to the maximum number of skaters permitted on the ice for their respective level. For example, a juvenile team may have 12-20 skaters on the ice. Therefore, the maximum number of athletes the team is allowed to roster for any particular competition is 24. Athletes must be rostered for that competition in order to receive a credential at that competition. The credential allows team members to be at ice level, in the locker room, on practice ice, etc. Athletes beyond the maximum allowed will not be permitted to participate in any competitive activities at a competition, or to be in an area which requires a credential for admittance. CHANGING TEAMS In accordance with Rule 3254 in the U.S. Figure Skating Rulebook, a skater who is changing teams must provide written notice from his or her previous team stating that the skater is in good financial standing with the old team before being accepted onto a new team. The old team must provide this documentation within 30 days of being requested, and may ONLY withhold it for non-payment. This can be in the form of a letter, e-mail or the Synchronized Skating Release Form that is found in the synchronized skating section of U.S. Figure Skating Online. CROSSOVER SKATERS An individual skater may skate on more than one, but not more than two, synchronized skating teams as long as the teams are in different levels. The following must also be adhered to: Rule 3261: No team may be comprised of more than 50% of athletes that are also on any other team. This applies to both the entire roster and the athletes that are skating on the ice at any given competition. Rule 3260 A: The chart below illustrates where crossover skaters are allowed. The shaded areas indicate no crossovers are allowed. An “X” indicates crossovers are allowed between the two levels, providing all requirements are met as defined in rules 4660–4790.









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Open Masters



Open adult




Open collegiate





Open Juvenile

Juvenile X X


Preliminary Pre-juvenile Open juvenile Juvenile Intermediate Novice Junior Senior Open collegiate Collegiate Open adult Masters Adult Open Masters


Level in Which Athlete Is Skating


Level to Which Athlete Is Allowed to Cross Over

COACHES REQUIREMENTS In order to participate as a coach at U.S. Figure Skating sanctioned qualifying and nonqualifying competitions coaches must meet four Coaching Compliance requirements. The annual deadline for coaches to complete this process is July 1: 1. U.S. Figure Skating membership 2. PSA membership (for qualifying competitions only) 3. Coaches registration and background screening 4. Continuing Education Requirement (CER) The team’s coach is responsible for making sure he or she is compliant in these areas. If these criteria are not met, the coach will be denied a credential at any events he or she attempts to attend with the team. Coaches may complete the requirements after July 1, however, they will be subject to a late fee.

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HOW RULES ARE MADE There are a few types of rules, and each has a different method of changing them. The three main types of rules are: 1. Technical rules relating to the international judging system 2. Rules found within the U.S. Figure Skating Rulebook 3. U.S. Figure Skating Bylaws

Technical rules relating to the international judging system:

These are rules that specify what a skater must do to achieve a “level” on an element. For example, the number of turns in a step sequence required to earn a Level 4, the number of rotations required in a spin in the moves-in-isolation element, etc. These rules are written by the ISU and automatically adopted by U.S. Figure Skating as they are published. You will not find them in the rulebook; they are found in ISU communications. U.S. Figure Skating adopts these updates by posting “Technical Notifications” on alerting members to ISU clarifications. The PSA also sends out text messages to those that sign up. A technical notification will always be posted by 5 p.m. Mountain Time on Thursday and will come into effect the following Monday.

Rules in the U.S. Figure Skating Rulebook:

These are rules that govern the sport of figure skating on the ice in all U.S. Figure Skating-sanctioned events. There are several steps in the process of forming a rule that is placed in the rulebook. 1. A person or group develops an idea. 2. The chair of the committee under which it falls ballots the appropriate committees. 3. If it passes the committee(s), the chair writes a “Request for Action” (RFA) and submits it to U.S. Figure Skating’s Board of Directors (BOD). 4. The BOD votes on the rule change. 5. The Governing Council (GC), which meets in May, ratifies the vote that the BOD took or chooses to overturn the BOD’s decision. All rules changes must be passed by a majority of the delegates. 6. The decision of the GC is final. If it passes, the rule then goes into effect Sept. 1.

U.S. Figure Skating Bylaws:

These are rules that govern the administration and structure of U.S. Figure Skating. The same process as above is used to create or change a bylaw, except that a bylaw change is not presented to the BOD. Instead, it goes directly to the Governing Council, who must ratify if with a vote of two-thirds in favor.


Requests for Action that are passed following the annual Governing Council will be communicated to members through, the Members Only website and e-mails from headquarters. These communications directly from U.S. Figure Skating are the sources you should rely on for any information related to U.S. Figure Skating rule changes. Reliable sources for information related to rule changes do not include “hearing” about new rules on Facebook, Twitter or any online forum. Please check any information you “hear” at the official sources listed above.

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SYNCHRONIZED SKATING: YOUR ROLE IN THE TEAM A successful synchronized skating team is made up of more than just athletes. Parents, coaches and team managers all play an important role in the success of the team. PARENTS 1. Select a team that meets both your child’s goals and your philosophy regarding commitment, cost, academics, etc. Read and understand the team handbook before signing up, make a good decision and stick with it. 2. Teach the skaters good sportsmanship in success, failure and everything in between. 3. Support the team under all circumstances; do not speak poorly of any team members, parents or professionals in the presence of your child. 4. Respect the decisions of the coach 5. Understand that being a member of a team is different than being a singles skater. Coaches will make decisions for the best interest of the team, which will not always line up with the interests of individual skaters. 6. Understand the commitment to the team and make sure your skater follows through. COACHES 1. Put every effort into ensuring the success of the team. 2. Set goals and expectations for the team and clearly communicate with athletes and parents 3. Make all major team decisions, including practice, competitions, travel, costumes, team selection, competitive level, etc. 4. Respect the parents and athletes and listen to their comments, concerns and suggestions. 5. Make all decisions in the best interest of the team as a whole. LEADERSHIP TEAM (i.e., TEAM MANAGEMENT) 1. The prime supporters of the team: athletes, coaches and parents 2. Take care of the off-ice details, so that the athletes and coaches can focus on skating. 3. Have an open line of communication and a partnership with the coach. 4. Keep everyone informed: athletes, parents and coaches. 5. Listen to the concerns of all team members. 6. Be an avid supporter of the coach. ATHLETES 1. Give 100 percent at every practice and demonstrate good sportsmanship at all times. 2. Understand your contribution to the success of the team. 3. Respect the coach and the decisions that they make. 4. Respect your teammates. 5. Understand that decisions need to be made in the best interest of the entire team. 6. Continue to improve individual skills throughout the season. ATHLETE LEADERSHIP TEAM (i.e., TEAM CAPTAINS) 1. Serve as the spokesperson for the athletes. 2. Set a good example for team members by demonstrating hard work, an excellent attitude and dedication to the team. 3. Keep the coach and team manager informed of athletes’ concerns. 4. Help the coach communicate information to the athletes. 5. Foster good feelings among the team members.

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Below is a list of duties that are necessary for managing a team, and a suggestion of how to break them up. It is recommended that between three and six people share these responsibilities. As an organization grows, and adds multiple teams, additional people may be added, and responsibilities divided by “General Management” and “Team Specific Management” GENERAL OVERSIGHT  Serve as the primary liaison between the coach, the athletes, the parents and the skating club  Serve as the primary team contact  Schedule ice time with arena as defined by the coach  Serve as the primary spokesperson for the team’s board and parents  Schedule and prepare agenda for leadership and team meetings  Keep team members and parents informed of all the board’s decisions  Delegate any unassigned tasks that arise  Accompany the coach to any private meeting with parents or athletes FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES  Keep a ledger detailing all financial transactions of the team 

    

Work with management team to create a budget

Allocate money for team purchases and expenses Manage payments of dues and assessments Organize fundraisers for the team Pay all team bills incurred by team Prepare financial reports for the management team, figure skating club and team members

ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITIES  Record minutes from each meeting  Communicate the team calendar to all members  Keep team roster, phone list and e-mail list, and set up an e-mail user group for the team  Complete and submit competition applications  Register team with the U.S. Figure Skating  Follow up to ensure that each skater is an eligible member of U.S. Figure Skating  Order or purchase team clothing and other items (i.e. warm-ups, costumes, T-shirts) TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS  Book hotel rooms, airline tickets and arrange for ground transportation (vans or buses)  Work with the coach to establish the team’s schedule during a competition  Oversee the rooming list / chaperones  Help with administrative responsibilities to complete competition applications PUBLICITY AND COMMUNICATIONS  Communicate with other teams for ideas  Create advertising or recruiting tools and materials for the team and coordinate recruiting efforts  Serve as a contact for athletes interested in joining the team  Distribute information about the team to local media outlets  Keep your skating club informed of any team activities, and write articles for the club’s newsletter, website and/or bulletin board, etc.  Work with the leadership team in soliciting sponsors for the team TIPS FOR VOLUNTEERS: Teams are not restricted to parents of current team members; reach out to alumni (recent college graduates that moved back to the area), parents of alumni, and adult team members. All volunteers working directly with children should complete a background screen.

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ROLE OF THE CLUB-LEVEL SYNCHRONIZED SKATING DIRECTOR As a synchronized skating program grows and adds teams at multiple levels, they should consider hiring a Director of Synchronized Skating. This individual has the responsibility of overseeing, developing and encouraging the growth and success of synchronized skating within a specific figure skating club, rink or organization. The synchronized skating director can report to the rink’s skating director, figure skating club or management team of the organization. The most important key to this individual’s success is that he or she has the authority and support as the “expert in the field” to make and be responsible for all major decisions related to the synchronized skating teams in his or her organization. This job is separate from a head coach or assistant coach, and the person should be compensated separately from that role. Realize that the skill set of being the director may not be the same skill set of a coach or choreographer. A Director of Synchronized Skating may be:   

An outside or consultant coach that is NOT the head coach of any particular team* The most experienced coach on the coaching staff The coach with the highest degree of organization and strategic skills

* This works in situations where there is a local person, familiar with the program, which has extensive knowledge of the sport, but is not coaching any of the teams within the program.

It is important to establish clear roles and expectations, including: How many hours the person is expected to devote, how many practices should they be attending (for teams they don’t coach), which competitions should they attend, etc. JOB DESCRIPTION: 1.

Develop long-term goals for the organization and a strategic plan to reach them


Oversight of the coaching staff, including individual team head coaches and assistant coaches - Develop standards for hiring coaching staff. Make final decisions in hiring/retaining coaching staff. - Establish a review process for the performance of coaching staff - Work with the other coaches in the program to establish season goals for each team within the program that support the overall organizational goals - Communicate regularly with coaching staff to ensure their success and make sure they have the necessary tools to do their jobs effectively - Support and assist all coaches in the program in enforcing program policies, encouraging athlete development Develop and implement a parents education program - Write a curriculum of parents education to keep parents feeling involved and connected, and to ensure that they understand synchronized skating. - Set schedule and ensure communication with parents Lead the development and implementation of team policies, rules and contracts - Work with the entire leadership team in creating team policies that support the goals, philosophies and direction of the organization



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Oversight of tryouts and determination of competitive teams fielded - Work with coaches in determining the skills required of the athletes, and how the skaters will be divided into teams - Implement a process for evaluating and providing each athlete with feedback on his or her skating skills - Work with coaches to establish the competitive levels for each team in the current season in addition to a long range or 2-3 season plan for the continued success of the program


Implementation and oversight of a program to recruit and train new skaters to ensure that there are always athletes moving through the organization’s pipeline - Work closely with the skating director/Basic Skills director to ensure that synchronized skating is presented as a favorable option for beginning skaters - Ensure that athletes entering the program have a good experience - Work with the figure skating club to ensure that athletes at all levels see synchronized skating as a viable, favorable experience - Work to develop a strong relationship with the singles/dance professionals - Develop and oversee an ethical recruiting program that is adhered to by the entire synchronized coaching staff and supported by the skating director, figure skating club and club professionals


Develop a retention plan for the current athletes - Work with coaching staff to establish policies for athlete and parent feedback - Be aware of problems and be proactive in helping solve them - Ensure that a system is in place to help athletes feel successful and productive, and that there are realistic and achievable goals for them to reach - Ensure that all the coaching staff is supporting the goals of the program in the most positive light possible.


Oversight and development of the budget - Ensure that the budget for each team in the program supports the philosophy and goals of the program Ensure that the budgets for each team are similar and reflect the differences in level, expected commitment, etc.


Oversight of the volunteer/parent leadership of the program - Delegate administrative tasks to team managers/officers - Oversight of the “job descriptions” of volunteer positions and input into the individuals filling these roles - Set up regular meetings with volunteers to ensure that everything is getting done, and to address potential challenges


Have oversight of each team’s competitive “plan” - Approve / provide guidance in music & costume selection - Ensure competitive programs meet the rules - Oversee communication with synchronized skating officials for feedback

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EXPECTATIONS OF A SYNCHRONIZED SKATING COACH When a synchronized team hires a coach, it is hiring a professional that is an expert in the field. It is important to expect a certain skill set and base of knowledge. Remember to differentiate between a coach and synchronized skating program director. Below are expectations that clubs, rinks and skating directors should have of their coaches, or those that they are looking to hire: •

They must meet the U.S. Figure Skating coach compliance requirements.

A knowledge of basic First Aid/CPR

An in-depth understanding of the sport and of U.S. Figure Skating. Coaches should understand all the levels and requirements, where their team fits into the “big picture” and where they want to go. They should be able to communicate this with their team.

A thorough understanding of U.S. Figure Skating rules and ISU communications. It is the coaches’ responsibility to know all the rules and make sure their team is following them.

Strong working relationships with other synchronized skating and figure skating coaches

Knowledge and support of the PSA and U.S. Figure Skating ethics rules and expectations.

An ability to network with judges, technical controllers and technical specialists.

Strong communication and problem-solving skills. Coaches must be able to communicate effectively with athletes, parents, team managers, assistant coaches, etc. They also must be able to address challenges when they occur with strong leadership and confidence.

A working knowledge of basic nutrition, including being sensitive to athletes and understanding where to go for more information.

Knowledge of how to choreograph an age- and skill-appropriate program for the team

Ability to make good decisions in selecting the costume and music.

An understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, and how they can be augmented with the assistance of outside professionals and assistant coaches.

Continuing education. Coaching members of U.S. Figure Skating and the PSA are expected to make use of all the continuing education opportunities available to them. This includes attending seminars, online learning, searching out documents on the website, reading magazines, etc.

An enthusiasm and love for the sport, good sportsmanship and a strong work ethic. Athletes learn from their coaches, and one of the first jobs of a coach is to teach their athletes to love the sport, and to be able to deal with both success and failure while trying their best.

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PAYING YOUR COACH(es) The amount a synchronized skating coach should be paid, and how he or she should be paid, is always a “hot topic” among team managers, parents, clubs and the coaches themselves. Understand that U.S. Figure Skating is not involved in any way in how coaches are paid, nor is there a great deal of information available on the topic. The compensation agreement is strictly between the coach and the team. There are, however, certain areas that should be considered, and different options to consider. METHOD: There are a few primary ways that teams and organizations can choose to pay their coaches. Teams and coaches should look at these different options and figure out which is the most advantageous to both parties. There are pros and cons to each method. 1. A PER-HOUR RATE: Many coaches are paid per hour, by the team, for the exact number of hours they actually spend on the ice coaching or for off-ice training. Pros: • • •

The team is paying the coach only for the hours that he or she actually works. The coach generally enjoys a high hourly rate. Most figure skating professionals are used to being compensated this way.

Cons: • The team does not know the exact amount of coaching fees will be per season. • The team may be reluctant to add in extra practice during the year, even if it is necessary. • Coaches may be reluctant to spend adequate time preparing lesson plans and working outside of ice time if they don’t feel they are being compensated for it. • Conflicts may arise around how to compensate the coach during competitions. • Coaches may feel resentful if they believe they are spending too much time on team issues outside the hours they are paid. Considerations: The team must create an agreement with the coach that addresses all the areas in the “Cons” section in order to minimize potential conflicts. It should include how many hours the coach will work, how time spent off ice will be compensated, how adding practices will be decided, if the coach needs to estimate or get permission for doing paid off-ice work, how the coach will be compensated at competitions, etc. Possible way to “simplify”: To determine the most appropriate hourly wage, the team should base it on what the going rate is at its rink, and in its area, for private lessons, and then increase this by 20-30 percent to account for time spent on organizational or off-ice issues.

A list of expectations of time outside of on-ice practice time must be agreed to by both parties, along with expectations and reimbursements for competition and/or events. A conflict often arises when the team and coach haven’t clearly stated their expectations to one another.


Also note the difference between a head coach and an assistant coach. Is the assistant coach just expected to be present for on-ice practices, but not create the lesson plan? If paying by the hour, this should be taken into consideration.

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PAYING YOUR COACH (cont’d.) 2. A SALARY FOR THE SEASON, PER TEAM: Some synchronized teams find it better to pay their coach one allinclusive amount for the whole season, providing regular pay checks on agreed-upon dates. Pros: • • • • • •

The team knows exactly how to budget for its season. If the coach adds practices, it doesn’t increase coaching fees. The coach is more likely to put in the time required off the ice, in a management role, to make the team more successful. Reduces conflicts with regard to payment during competitions. The team can provide a raise for the next season and know how that will impact its budget. The team can offer an opportunity for a performance bonus.

Cons: • Coaches could feel they are being taken advantage of if they are pressed to add extra hours or spend excessive time in meetings with parents or dealing with team issues. • The team may feel “slighted” if the coach skips a practice due to illness, etc. • The team may be critical of the work being done off the ice. Considerations: The team must create an agreement with the coach that addresses all the areas in the “Cons” section in order to minimize potential conflicts. It should include what the off-ice responsibilities, competition responsibilities are, an expected minimum amount of hours worked, etc.


When considering your method of compensation, in addition to the amount, keep in mind that there are essentially three paid job types associated with any team or organization: 1. Synchronized Skating Director duties: These are the off-ice administrative, leadership, strategic planning responsibilities, in addition to possibly choreography for all teams. 2. Head coach duties: Running, managing, coaching and supervising the day-to-day and season training of one particular team. 3. Assistant coach duties: Assisting at regularly schedule practice sessions. Generally, an individual fulfills more than one of these roles. It is recommended that the compensation for each role be determined separately, then added for the coach’s total compensation. In addition, coach’s travel and meal expenses should be covered for competitions, and teams may consider paying the cost of at least one continuing education program per season. Example: A person is the Director of Synchronized Skating for the program, the head coach of the novice and intermediate teams, and assistant coach for the pre-juvenile team. His or her compensation package might look like: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Director of Synchronized Skating: Intermediate team head coach: Novice team head coach: Pre - Juvenile assistant coach:

$ 6,000 / season $12,000 / season $14,000 / season $ 2,025 / calculated at $45/hr., 1 ½ hrs., 30 weeks)

* Note: These examples do not indicate recommendations or national averages. They are simply for illustration purposes.

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TRAVEL Traveling to competitions can cause logistical challenges for teams and families. There are a variety of ways teams work to overcome these difficulties, and no one approach is correct or incorrect. The most important detail to remember when organizing travel for a team of any age or level is to communicate clearly very early in the season how travel will be arranged and exactly how flexible the team will be to the needs and requests of individual skaters/families when the skater is traveling as a part of the team. When determining your team’s travel policies, the first step is for the leadership of the team to review U.S. Figure Skating SAFESPORT program and handbook. TRANSPORTATION: Depending on the number of local competitions available to a team, transportation can become one of the most expensive areas of the team’s budget. There are several choices teams have with regard to transportation to and from the competition, but often these choices are limited by the distance between the competition venue and the team’s hometown. Car: For small teams competing within easy driving distance, the easiest way to transport the team is with each individual skater driving to the event with his or her family. Families can carpool to save on gas. It is important to make sure all parents know exactly when they are expected to arrive at the competition. If this mode of transportation is used for an event that also requires a hotel stay, teams may allow skaters to drive back and forth to the rink with their families or assign carpools. Bus: Many teams choose to rent a bus or multiple busses to transport their teams to and from events as well as to and from the rink while at an event. These teams are generally able to split the high cost of renting a bus between a large number of skaters and more than one team. Teams often travel very long distances on buses, sometimes avoiding the cost of plane tickets. •

Pros: Skaters travel as a group throughout the event, and teams do not run the risk of having one skater not show up at the rink for practice or competition. Traveling as a group can also promote overall team cohesiveness.

Cons: Bus transportation can get very expensive, especially if a competition is several days and the team is covering many miles to get there. Parents will have to pay for their own transportation to the event as well as cover their skater’s share of the bus. If using a bus to avoid plane costs, skaters may have to miss extra days of school in order to get to the competition on time.

Plane: Some competitions require teams to travel long distances, and this is the only option. Teams can either allow skaters to book tickets on their own, or they may book the flight as a group, requiring skaters to travel with the team. Allowing skaters to choose their own flight may allow them to use miles or pick a cheaper flight at an inconvenient time. However, having athletes on separate flights can make ground transportation much more difficult upon arrival and create challenges with delayed or canceled flights. Tip: If your team is going to allow athletes to book their own flights, set a deadline for purchasing the ticket, and require a copy of the itinerary.

15 U.S. Figure Skating – Starting & Managing a Synchronized Skating Team v. 2015

LODGING: The level of team and age of skaters are usually the biggest factors in deciding how to handle lodging. The options below apply to competitions where the team is required to stay at least one night in a hotel room. Option 1: Skaters stay in a hotel room with their parent(s)/family This option is usually most attractive to small teams with young skaters who may not be used to spending time away from their parents. The team can still block rooms as a group, and families can share rooms to cut down on costs if they would like. Athletes traveling without family can be assigned a “chaperone” based on who the parent is comfortable leaving in charge of their child for the competition. In this situation, parents need to be given exact instructions on when and where the team will be meeting throughout the event (off-ice practice, meals, the rink, etc.) and it should be clearly explained what it means when the child is “with the team,” and times that they are to avoid distractions while the team is together. Option 2: Skaters stay with chaperones This is a good option for athletes too young to be without supervision in a hotel room, but old enough to be away from their parents. This option can save some money, as skaters will be splitting the cost of the room. Curfews and rules can be easily monitored and enforced by chaperones when the team is contained in only a few rooms as opposed one skater in each room. Parents must be made aware that when the skaters are in their room, they are “with the team” and not with their families. Rules related to when parents can visit with their skaters must be made clear. The team must be selective in choosing chaperones; they must do a good job enforcing the team rules, and parents must be comfortable leaving their child in their care. All chaperones must have a background check, be of the same gender as all athletes in the room, and should be associated with the organization for at least one year prior to serving in this role. Option 3: Skaters share rooms without chaperones This option is most often used by teams made up of athletes who are high-school age or older. These skaters are old enough to be held responsible for their own actions while traveling understand the consequences if they do not follow team rules. The coach and team chaperones can easily manage, as it is contained to five or six rooms. Athletes are less likely to be distracted by parents or other family members, as they will only be “with the team” at all times. Coaches must be confident in the maturity level of the skaters. The ground rules for behavior while traveling and the consequences for breaking these rules need to be clearly explained to skaters and parents. Parents need to be informed of the team’s policy with regard to visiting with their skaters during competition.

Note: Teams should put their travel policies in writing, as an appendix to their team handbook, and be sure to review the U.S. Figure Skating SAFESPORT Handbook to ensure they have appropriate documents in place, and have taken precautions to protect their athletes. It is also recommended that all chaperones rooming with athletes take the U.S. Olympic Committee’s online SAFESPORT training program.

16 U.S. Figure Skating – Starting & Managing a Synchronized Skating Team v. 2015

A SAMPLE TIMELINE / CHECKLIST FOR A SEASON Below is an outline of tasks in setting up a successful synchronized skating season. Teams should customize this timeline to meet their own goals. It outlines major events throughout the year. PRE-SEASON / PLANNING (Typically following the last competition of the season) Strategic planning and goal setting: - Develop a multi-year plan for the team/organization - Develop goals for the team in the upcoming season Establish the team volunteer management for the upcoming season: - Create/update contracts defining the roles and responsibilities for coaches, athletes, parents and team management. Establish the coaching staff for the upcoming season: - Coaches should stay on top of any rule changes for the next season - Determine the organizational structure of coaching staff - Coaches should begin music selection and plans for choreography - Coaches should establish the skills and skating levels required for the team Advertise your team / set-up try-outs: - Hold introductory parents, coaches and athletes meetings - Provide general information about the team and try-out process Hold team try-outs: - Require any athletes trying out to pay a fee specifically for the try-out cost. - Make final decisions as to what levels are being offered - Make decisions as to which team each skater is assigned to - Make final updates and revisions to team agreements, handbooks & contracts Arrange the basics for next season: - Ice time and practice schedule - Competition schedule Communicate with potential members: - Send each family an “offer letter” assigning their athlete to the team - Send each family the full team handbook, agreement and any other documents - Hold a parents meeting to review these documents and answer questions - Require families to sign a commitment letter / team agreement & provide deposit Establish / maintain finances: - Keep track of each athlete’s account - Ensure methods are in place to pay bills Establish team communication plans: - Set-up e-mail groups, social media, text messaging, etc. Finalize or amend any scheduling issues based on participation.

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PLANNING FOR THE COMPETITION SEASON Take care of any administrative issues not addressed in pre-season: - Athlete membership cards - Athlete proof of age and test level - Registering the team with U.S. Figure Skating - Ensuring all coaches are compliant with U.S. Figure Skating rules (July 1 deadline) Gather information regarding the competitions the team has decided to enter - Create a calendar with entry deadlines - Gather competition announcements as they become available - Start travel arrangements Hold regular parent meetings to continue communication Order any team apparel, costumes, etc. COMPETITION SEASON Make sure to submit all entries for competitions on time, and complete all LOC forms. If your team is in a qualifying event and competing at sectionals, begin to research possibilities for travel to the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships, should the team quality. Compete in two-three competitions prior to Sectionals. Typical schedule is Mid-November, Early December, and Mid-January. Schedule a critique with a judge/technical panel official, or attend one of the four U.S. Figure Skating Sectional Monitoring programs. Schedule parent and athlete meetings prior to and following each competition. POST COMPETITION SEASON Wrap-up any team business Solicit feedback from athletes and parents Coach performance evaluation and possible bonus Review the season, and start all over again!

18 U.S. Figure Skating – Starting & Managing a Synchronized Skating Team v. 2015

WORKING WITH A FIGURE SKATING CLUB One of the most important factors in managing a synchronized skating team is establishing a strong working relationship with the figure skating club the team represents. There are mutual benefits to having a successful synchronized skating program for the team and the club, and it is important that a plan is established early on by both parties to ensure success. It is important to understand that U.S. Figure Skating does not dictate what the relationship should be between the team and the club. That is up to those two parties to determine. The only rules in the U.S. Figure Skating Rulebook regarding this area are:

Rule 3081 Membership – Synchronized Team Skating

Each synchronized skating team must be registered with U.S. Figure Skating by team name, club representation (if representing a club) and with the name, address and telephone number of a contact person, etc.

Rule 3085 Eligibility to Compete – Synchronized Team Skating

All participants must be eligible members or reinstated persons and registered skaters. If a team represents a club, all team members must be members of the club the team represents, but it is not necessary for it to be their home club.

After that, how they want to structure themselves is up to both parties. Here are two main principles that are accepted among successful programs, and the basis for how their relationships are determined: •

The synchronized team should have the autonomy to make the decisions regarding their skating, just as a pairs or ice dancing team would. This includes things like the competitive level of the team, the skills required to try out, how alternates are selected, costumes, music, practice times and commitments, competitions attending, etc.

The figure skating club should be fully aware of the overall management of the team and should be given regular reports from the team management regarding the team’s progress, including any challenges that have arisen or need resolution.

When starting a synchronized skating team, representatives from the club and the team’s management should determine how they are going to work together. This agreement should be in writing and approved by both the club’s board of directors and the team’s management. The following are examples of situations that should be addressed in the agreement: Finances: Once the team management has established its budget, the club and team must figure out how the skaters will pay the dues and what the process will be for using budgeted funds. If the team has its own checking account, it must establish how the team will report to and keep the figure skating club apprised of its financial situation. Coaching staff: Who will be responsible for hiring the head coach/coaching staff and/or skating director? What are their responsibilities? Who is allowed to make the decisions on their continued employment?

Team members: What will be the requirements for club membership? Financial obligations of members: What will the policy be for skaters who do not pay their dues?

19 U.S. Figure Skating – Starting & Managing a Synchronized Skating Team v. 2015

Reporting to the club: How will the team keep the club informed of the actions of the team? Will there be a board position created for a synchronized representative? Mutual benefits: What benefits should the team receive for representing the club? What will the team/team members be expected to contribute in exchange?

20 U.S. Figure Skating – Starting & Managing a Synchronized Skating Team v. 2015

CLUB AND SYNCHRONIZED SKATING TEAM RELATIONSHIP The following are examples of organizational relationships between a figure skating club and synchronized skating program. EXAMPLE 1: A medium-sized figure skating club with only one synchronized team CLUB DESCRIPTION: This club has approximately 250 members. Its activities include offering ice time to members, hosting an annual competition, offering monthly test sessions and an annual spring ice show. Members are of various levels and include skaters who regularly compete at the regional championships. The goal of the club is to provide opportunities, support and funding to skaters of all levels and disciplines, and enhance their skating experience. TEAM DESCRIPTION: The program is a medium size synchronized program that competes at two-three nonqualifying competitions per year as well as the sectional championships.

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE: Figure Skating Club Board of Directors

Synchronized Skating Management Team

Synchronized Team Athletes and Parents

Includes one voting board member, elected by the team, whose responsibility is to report to all the officers the activity of the synchronized skating team at each meeting

Report to the synchronized skating representative the concerns of team members and any issues of concern affecting the team. Manage and run all day-to-day activities of the team under the established policies of the team.

All athletes must be either home or associate members of the figure skating club, and all skaters under 18 must have a parent join. They must voice any concerns first to the management team.

Responsibility: • Manage the team on a dayto-day basis • Make all major decisions • Collect dues and pay bills • Report monthly to BOD • Report monthly to treasurer

Responsibility: • Become members of the figure skating club • Pay dues to the team • Follow all rules established by the team • Follow all rules established for club membership

Responsibility: • Provide a financial scholarship to the team • Be aware of team’s activities • Provide opportunities for skaters

WHY THIS WORKS: This works the best for medium-sized clubs that do not have an extensive synchronized skating program. It allows the team autonomy in decision making and doesn’t burden the figure skating club with the details of running a team. This is an excellent model for clubs to follow that want to start their first team. BENEFITS TO THE FIGURE SKATING CLUB: • • • •

Increased and retained membership More recognition at sectional and national competitions Increased volunteer base for test sessions and annual competition Opportunity to become educated on synchronized skating without having to run the program


• An annual grant from the club • Autonomy in making decisions that affect the team •EXAMPLE Use of the nonprofit status toclub fundraise open a checkingorganization account 2: club’s A large figure skating with and a large multi-team

21 U.S. Figure Skating – Starting & Managing a Synchronized Skating Team v. 2015

CLUB DESCRIPTION: This club has a wide range of members, including both test skaters and high-level competitors in all disciplines of figure skating. TEAM DESCRIPTION: This example illustrates a synchronized skating program that consists of multiple teams at various levels. An organization like this would have three – ten teams, in addition to a Basic Skills/beginner program that partners with the club’s Basic Skills program.

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE: Figure Skating Club Oversee all figure skating programs within the club. Includes one voting member representing synchronized skating.

Responsibility: • Provide a support structure for the organization • Host competitions • Be aware of teams’ activities • Promote synchronized skating to club members

Synchronized Skating Steering Committee Subcommittee within the club responsible for overseeing the synchronized teams

Responsibility: • Report to the FSC BOD on a regular basis • Approve recommendations from the director of synchronized skating and general manager • Hire director of synchronized skating • Manage checking

Director of Synchronized Skating/ Head Coach and General Manager Oversee the day-to-day operation of the synchronized program

Responsibility: • Strategic planning to achieve long-term goals • Manage day-to-day activities • Make recommendations for the program’s direction to the steering committee • Oversee the coaching staff (director of synchronized skating) • Oversee the line managers (general manager)

Assistant Coaches Assist in daily coaching Line Managers Each responsible for managing one of the teams within the

Responsibility: • Assist the director of synchronized skating in carrying out goals • Manage an individual team • Keep director and general manager informed of any issues regarding individual athletes or situations

Synchronized athletes and parents: All are members of the club. All members of the team must follow team rules and figure skating club rules for membership. They must first take any concerns to their individual team manager, who then goes to the general manager, who reports to the director of synchronized skating.

WHY THIS WORKS: It allows the figure skating club to provide opportunities in synchronized skating, but by taking out the day-to-day management, it also allows the board to focus on more general membership issues. This is an excellent way to manage a large and seemingly complicated organization. BENEFITS TO THE FIGURE SKATING CLUB: • • •

Increased and retained membership, increased volunteer base for hosting competitions Widespread recognition at sectional, national and international competitions Opportunity to have a well-run, developed organization with less time commitment from the club board of directors


• • •

Autonomy in making decisions that affect the program A professional responsible for strategic planning and the long-term health of the program Individuals on every level of the organization that are looking out for the best interests of the athletes

22 U.S. Figure Skating – Starting & Managing a Synchronized Skating Team v. 2015

SELECTING THE LEVEL OF YOUR SYNCHRONIZED SKATING TEAM Selecting the level in which your teams will compete is one of the most important decisions you will make. It is the coach/synchronized skating director’s responsibility to make sure that the team is entered in the most appropriate level. While U.S. Figure Skating’s rules divide teams by both age and a minimum skill level, there are still several levels from which a team could choose. There are several additional factors to consider when selecting the level of your team: • • • • • • • • • •

Number, age and skill level of skaters Financial commitment of the athletes/parents Time commitment of the athletes/parents Availability of ice time Number of competitions per season desired Experience of the coach Experience of the athletes Goals of the team Long-term goals of the team and the synchronized skating organization Teams at all levels are permitted to have a maximum of four (4) alternates rostered beyond the maximum number permitted on the ice for their respective level

The next page provides an illustration of the competitive pipeline within U.S. Figure Skating. Teams should look at the entire picture and strive to build an organization that allows their athletes not only to have immediate success, but to grow as athletes through the program. The following levels are judged under the 6.0 judging system: Beginner / Basic Skills Preliminary Pre-Juvenile Open Juvenile Juvenile Open Collegiate Open Adult Open Masters Masters The following levels are judged under the International Judging System (IJS): Intermediate Novice Junior Senior Collegiate Adult The Director of Synchronized Skating and Head Coaches should always be looking forward and looking for ways to help their athletes grow and move up through the pipeline.

23 U.S. Figure Skating – Starting & Managing a Synchronized Skating Team v. 2015


U.S. Figure Skating Basic Skills Program

Nonqualifying competitions

Sectional U.S. Synchronized International Championships Skating Championships Competitions

Synchro 1-4, all ages, 6+ skaters

Developmental Levels

Beginner 1, 2, 3 all ages, 8-16

Preliminary, all under 12, majority under 10; 8 –16 skaters Pre-juvenile, all/majority under 12; 8 –16 skaters Open juvenile, all under 20; 8–16 skaters; pre-preliminary moves-inthe-field test

Competitive Levels

Juvenile, under 13, 12-20 skaters; preliminary moves-in-the-field test Intermediate, under 18, 12-20 skaters; pre-juvenile moves-in-the-field test Novice, under 16, with the exception of four skaters who may be 16 or 17; 12-20 skaters; juvenile moves-in-the-field test Junior, at least 13, under 19; 12-16 skaters; intermediate moves-in-the-field test

Collegiate Levels

Senior, at least 15; 16 skaters; novice moves-in-the-field test

Open collegiate, all full-time college students; 8-16 skaters Collegiate, all full-time college students; 12-20 skaters; juvenile movesin-the-field test

Adult Levels

Open adult, majority at least 19; 8-16 skaters Open masters, at least 25, majority at least 30, 8-16 skaters Adult, at least 21, with the exception of four skaters who may be 18, 19, or 20; 12-20 skaters; preliminary or adult bronze moves-in-the-field, preliminary figure or preliminary dance. Masters, at least 25, majority at least 30

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World Junior Champ.

World Champ.

SYNCHRONIZED SKATING TEAM FINANCES Understand that the information regarding team finances are guidelines, and not requirements. Teams are encouraged to understand the main concepts and then tailor them to their own organization and team. In addition, U.S. Figure Skating recommends that teams hire an accounting professional to review all practices and financial matters to ensure the organization is in compliance with current state laws. The next several pages contain information to assist you in creating your team’s budget, illustrate how you might collect dues, and provide a sample parents financial information guide.


SHARED, FIXED EXPENSES will not change regardless of the number of skaters on the team. The more skaters sharing the expenses, the less it costs each skater. • • • • • •

Ice time Coaching fees Off-ice classes, required on-ice classes, etc. Competition entry fees, registration fees Other competition fees (practice ice, etc.) Music editing

VARIABLE EXPENSES are budgeted per skater on the team. You may also use these items for several years and reduce the fees for returning members. It is recommended to include fees for these items in the regular dues: • • • • •

Competition costume Practice clothing, tights, official practice outfit, etc. Team warm-up suit Team clothing and extras such as: skate bag, T-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. Hair and make-up items

This is one of the biggest challenges to budget for. Teams often don’t include travel fees in their regular dues, but you can consider it, if you have a good sense of the expenses. TRAVEL EXPENSES This is one of the biggest challenges, as it varies based on the competitions selected, their location and things outside of your control, such as airfare and hotel costs. There are a few ways to account for travel costs: 1. List the competitions the team will attend, and require families to make and pay for their own arrangements. 2. The team makes the travel plans, discloses and estimate, and requires families to make payments to a travel account, separate from their dues. 3. The team estimates the travel expenses, and includes it in the dues. Generally, estimating on the higher end (and possibly crediting any balance to the last dues payment).

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REVENUE ITEM DESCRIPTION Tryout fee Non-Refundable deposit Regular season dues Fundraising expectation Local sponsorship Figure skating club grant Proceeds club competition TOTAL REVEUNE

EXPENSES / SHARED ITEM DESCRIPTION Regular season ice time (36 weeks) Clinic & Tryout ice time Head coach Assistant coach Synchronized Skating Director Competition entry fees Competition practice ice Coaches’ hotel rooms Coaches’ meals at competition Coaches’ airline Music editing Officials’ visit Coaches’ Continuing Education Coaches’ apparel Miscellaneous TOTAL SHARED EXEPNSES





$ 100 $ 500 $4,000 $ 100 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000

30 18 18 18 1 1 1

$ 3,000 $ 9,000 $72,000 $ 1,800 $ 2,000 $ 2,000 $ 2,000 $91,800




$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

126 5 1 1 .25 4 4 10 10 2 1 1 1 1 1

$44,100 $ 1,750 $ 8,000 $ 4,000 $ 1,500 $ 4,000 $ 2,400 $ 3,000 $ 2,000 $ 1,600 $ 200 $ 500 $ 1,500 $ 200 $ 2,000 $ 76,750

350 350 8,000 4,000 6,000 1,000 600 300 200 800 200 500 1,500 200 2,000





Competition dress Practice dress Tights, make-up, hair Team “gear”

$250 $150 $ 60 $ 50

18 18 18 18

$4,500 $2,700 $1,080 $ 900 $9,180



26 U.S. Figure Skating – Starting & Managing a Synchronized Skating Team v. 2015


SAMPLE BUDGET – INTERMEDIATE TEAM (cont’d.) Some notes about this budget: -

The budget should be used to determine the team’s dues. The dues can be calculated by dividing the expenses by the number of expected skaters on the team. The parents should be aware of what will happen if that number changes.


Determine how to do the payment calendar. Some teams require monthly payments, others fewer, larger payment.


What happens when an athlete leaves the team? (See sample team agreement for suggested language).


Consider what you will do about skaters who get behind on dues.


Always have a “buffer” in your budget in case of emergencies, athletes delinquent on dues, overages on competition travel, etc. You can always reduce the last payment installment if the team is significantly under budget.


Travel expenses for athletes is not included. Will skaters pay everything on their own, or will the team set up arrangements, and the skaters pay the team?

CALCULATING TRAVEL EXPENSES Teams not including travel expenses in their dues, should provide families an estimate of team travel, and an expectation of when that is due. Here are some guidelines to use in your calculations, based on the U.S. Figure Skating finance and travel policy: DOMESTIC AIRFARE: HOTEL ROOMS: MEALS: BAGGAGE FEES: CHARTER BUS: RENTAL CARS:

$425 / ticket $150 / room / night; 2-4 athletes / room, or 1 chaperone + 2-3 athletes / room. $50 / person / day ($10/breakfast, $10/lunch, $30/dinner) $50 / person roundtrip $2,500 per day (one overnight) $50 / per day / car

Generally, a competition like the sectional championships would be: Day 1: Day 2: Day 3: Day 4:

Travel day + unofficial practice Official practice Competition Travel home

A team bussing to an out-of-state competition could project approximately $500 per athlete: Hotel: $150 (3 nights / 3 people in room) Bus: $190 ($7,500 for a bus shared by two teams) Meals: $150 (dinner, 2 full days, breakfast & lunch)

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FUNDRAISING/SPONSORSHIP If the team is either a 501(C)3 non-profit organization, or a member of a club that is, they may do fundraising activities, seek tax deductible donations and sponsorships. A team should consult an accounting professional with regard to fundraising and sponsorship to ensure the organization is in compliance with current state laws. U.S. Figure Skating does not have rules related to how teams fundraise, all rules governing finances of 501(c)3 non-profit organizations are put in place by the IRS. Organizations that break these rules are subject to penalty by the IRS, and put their tax exempt in jeopardy. (They are not subject to disciplinary action by U.S. Figure Skating). A detailed Guidebook on fund raising for figure skating clubs can be found on the U.S. Figure Skating website. IMPORTANT FUNDRAISING BASICS 1. All money raised by the team MUST support the team as a whole and NOT individual skaters. A parent raising money and then using it to directly support his or her skater is effectively earning income without being taxed on it. This practice IS NOT ALLOWED BY THE IRS. Remind skaters and parents that even if their dollar amount isn’t being reduced by the exact amount of money that they raise, any money they raise will take down everyone’s costs, including their own. 2. If you are operating under the 501(c)3 status of your figure skating club, discuss your fundraising plans with the club. It is important that the club is aware of fundraising being done with the use of its tax exempt status, as the club answers to the IRS. 3. Is it worth it? Some parents want to bring down the costs, others find fundraisers an annoyance. Discuss fundraising options with families before committing to a time-intensive plan that requires a large amount of participation. How much money will the team receive selling “butter braids,” and is it worth the commitment? 4. Skaters may be participating in many fundraisers for school and other activities. Avoid repeating fundraisers in which skaters are already participating, as these will likely not be very profitable for your team. 5. Do not rely heavily on fundraising when writing the team budget unless past experience can give you a realistic estimate. 6. Offer an “opt out”. For example, every family is required to participate in fundraising activities to raise a minimum of $100 each. Any family not meeting this requirement must pay the team the difference. (If you receive 20 checks for $100, you’ll know to stop the fundraiser!)

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SAMPLE FINANCIAL INFORMATION FOR TEAM MEMBERS Once the management team has held tryouts, and determined the teams, written and approved the budget, it must be communicated with the team. It is NOT necessary or recommended to provide each family with a copy of the detailed budget. That may remain confidential to the leadership team. The family must know what they are expected to pay for, what is included and what is not. Below is an example of how the budget on the previous pages can be communicated: WELCOME TO THE TEAM! Below is information you will need to know regarding your family’s financial commitment to our synchronized skating team. REGULAR TEAM DUES OUTLINE: The annual dues for the XXX synchronized skating team are $ 4,000, in addition to a $500 non-refundable deposit to be paid prior to the first practice. The schedule for payment of the regular dues is as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

June 1: Non-refundable deposit due prior to the first practice: August 1: Installment # 1 October 1: Installment # 2 November 15: Installment # 3 January 1: Installment # 4

$500 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000

The following expenses are included in your regular team dues:       

Ice time Coaching Competition dress Practice dress One pair of tights, make-up and hair accessories Two team shirts All competition and performance entry fees, coaching expenses & practice ice

The following MANDATORY expenses are NOT included in your regular dues:  Team warm-up suit for 1st year skaters ($150 estimate)  Team skate bag for 1st year skaters ($50 estimate) The following OPTIONAL expenses are NOT included in dues:  Additional tights  Replacement for any items lost or not in acceptable condition  Admission for family members at competitions  Extra team t-shirts, apparel or optional clothing offered to team members.

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In addition to regular dues, and the above noted mandatory purchases, travel to competitions is not included in team dues. All athletes are required to attend the three non-qualifying competition listed below, the Sectional Synchronized Skating Championships, and should the team qualify, the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships. The management team will book all travel for athletes, and families will be required to make payments for each competition approximately 30 days prior to the event. The following are estimates of travel expenses. The exact amount will be communicated with each family as soon as possible. Competition # 1:

(Travel payment due October 15) November 15th Estimate: $500 per athlete

Competition # 2:

(Travel Payment due November 1st) December 1st Estimate: $700 per athlete

Competition # 3:

January 15th $500 per athlete

Sectional Championships:

January 25th $700 per athlete

(Travel Payment due December 15th) (Travel Payment due January 1st)

U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships*: March 7th (Upon qualification) $1,000 per athlete * Should the team qualify, the management team will work as quickly as possible to put travel arrangements in place. We are estimating a $400 flight, four nights in a hotel, and a charter bus on-site. Parents are welcome to attend any competitions they like, and will be provided all of the appropriate travel information. They are required to book and pay for all of their own travel arrangements. In some cases, parents may be offered the opportunity to purchase a bus pass for transportation to a competition. Please see the detailed information in the Team Handbook regarding methods of payment, consequences for non-payment, and circumstances surrounding separation from the team prior to the end of the season.

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COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TEAM As a coach, team manager, team officer or other representative of your team, one of your primary responsibilities is communicating with and educating the athletes and parents. The most common disagreements between team management and parents stem from miscommunication, which is one of the leading causes of skaters leaving a team. Some of the responsibilities for communication and education by the management team, including the coach, include: • • • • •

Clear communication of all the responsibilities and expectations that come with being a member of your team Clear communication of the financial commitment to being a team member. Clear communication of the consequences to athletes and parents for not meeting these expectations and responsibilities Clear communication on how “alternates” will be handled and how any skater not practicing the program in a spot will be treated. (You may choose to use a different term.) Continuing parents education throughout the season.

PARENTS EDUCATION In addition to regular communication of the team expectations, the management team and coach(es) should plan a parents education program that will give families an understanding of U.S. Figure Skating, synchronized skating and how to help their child get the most out of their experience as a member of the team. A few of the main topics that should be included in a parents education program are: • • • • • • • •

The structure of synchronized skating and U.S. Figure Skating – Participants have a right to understand where their team fits into the big picture. The competitive expectations of a team at their level – Participants have a right to understand what to expect at competitions. The rules and judging of synchronized skating – Parents should have an opportunity to learn the basics, so if they choose to watch an event, they understand what they are seeing. The values and benefits children gain through participation in figure skating and synchronized skating The difference between participating in figure skating as a solo skater and a member of a team What makes a successful synchronized skater The roles and responsibilities of all people involved with the team (coaches, management, skaters, parents, etc.) Information on how to learn more about the sport

31 U.S. Figure Skating – Starting & Managing a Synchronized Skating Team v. 2015

RESOURCES PARENTS EDUCATION A sample PowerPoint presentation can be found on the “Managing Your Team” page in the Synchronized Skating section of This presentation can be used for general parents education or can be used for ideas if a group is putting together a parents education program more specific to their team. This handbook also contains many resources (descriptions of roles, etc.) that can be used as part of a comprehensive parents education program. SAMPLE DOCUMENTS TO HELP YOU COMMUNICATE The following samples are included on the following pages for your team to use in planning for the upcoming season: A. B. C.

Sample agenda for a first parents meeting Sample team contract from an intermediate synchronized skating team Sample team agreement from an intermediate synchronized skating team

Please note that the samples included are just that – samples. There is no right or wrong way to write a team agreement and/or team contract. Use the samples as a guideline and tailor the content to what is important to YOUR own organization and YOUR team goals. The main reasons for a team contract and/or team agreement are: • • • • •

The athletes and parents must understand their time commitment. The athletes and parents must understand their financial commitment. The athletes and parents must understand what is expected of them. The athletes and parents must understand the roles of the coaches and management team. The athletes and parents must understand the team policies and consequences for not following them.

32 U.S. Figure Skating – Starting & Managing a Synchronized Skating Team v. 2015

SAMPLE AGENDA FOR A PARENTS MEETING Below is a sample agenda that can be used for a first parents and/or athletes meeting. You will need to tailor it to suit your own team and club. The key things to remember are that you should be very up front and clear about what it means to be a member of the team, and what is expected of all participants. AGENDA 1.

Welcome: A brief history of the team and/or sport, if those in attendance are new.


Goal of the team: What the team is striving for this year (i.e. certain performance, attendance at a particular competition, improve upon placement from last season, have fun, etc.)


Selection of team members: • How team members were selected • How “alternates” will be handled • How “skaters in training” will be handled


Expectations of team members: • Attendance policy for practice • Attendance policy for competition • Behavior, effort and attitude • Equipment care (skate sharpening, boots, blades, etc.) • Consequences for not meeting expectations


Financial commitment • Team dues and other team costs • Discuss how the budget is created, and who is responsible for managing it • Thoroughly outline payment schedule, variables, etc. • Explain how travel expenses will be handled • Consequences for missing payments/late payments


Competitions and travel policy • Which competitions the team expects to attend • Date for final event selection • Overview of expectations of skaters/family at events (set date for further discussion) • What additional costs to expect at a competition


Roles and responsibilities of all involved • Responsibilities of each officer, team manager, etc. • Responsibilities of the coaches • Responsibilities of the parents and athletes • Procedure for communication with coach, discussing problems, etc.

33 U.S. Figure Skating – Starting & Managing a Synchronized Skating Team v. 2015

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