Ice Skating Training Facilities

Hosted by
San Diego Figure Skating Communications

Job Descriptions

of ice rinks, Arenas & Multi Sport Complexes

       The organization chart, of an ice arena, individual rink, or multi sports facility, can vary widely in the number of individuals employeed in management and their responsibilities. The following is how an organizational chart for a large sports and recreational complex with two practice ice surfaces and a heated arena style building with permanent seating for up to 5,000 spectators:

 Chairman of a Board of Directors,
President of a Corporation or
General Partner of a Partnership

Director Human Resources Treasurer
Operations Manager Corporation Secretary
Director Program Development
Director of Group Class Programs
Event Scheduling
Risk Management Officer
Director of Figure Skating Programs
Food Services Manager
Director of Marketing
Director of Synchronized Team Skating
Sports Shop Manager
Director of Community Relations
Director of Theater On Ice Programs

Volunteer Coordinator
Director of Hockey Programs

Web Master
Director of Speed Skating Programs

Programs for a
Charter School
Director of Curling Programs

 Market Sports Complex to Community & Schools

Operations Manager

     The overall responsibility of the operations manager is to create a daily schedule designed to fully utilize ice time and achieve maximum productivity.

    The majority of time will be regularly scheduled activities including practices, leagues, public skating, and in-house programs that occur on a repeat basis. At various times throughout the year there may be special events such as ice shows, carnivals, tournaments and competitions hosted at the facility. 

     Contracted ice for hockey, curling, speed skating, synchronized team skating, and Theater on Ice have specific seasons which will create scheduling gaps prior to the start of each new season and after each season concludes as skaters and coaches need to take some time off. Holidays may also cause open dates in the schedule.

Program Development and Scheduling
     The operations manager ultimately has the responsibility to manage existing programs and works with the Program Director to develop new activities to attract and retain customers. The programs should be attractive to beginning skaters, and supportive of more skilled and long-time customers. By developing a range of activities and scheduling them in a reasonable, logical manner, the facility features a plan of activities designed to encourage a lifetime of skating participation. There is a natural flow of customer support that starts with skaters at public skating sessions.

Human Resources - Hiring and Training
    The success or failure in any organization depends on the consistent quality of its everyday programs.

    The lifeblood of any organization is its people. An arena can have a great product and a great facility, but it is its outstanding team of employees that is the glue that holds everything together.

    The task of recruiting, orientating and training of employees and independent contract coaches must be a priority if the facility is to be financially and programmatically successful. The Director of Human Resources will do the hiring and annual assessment of job performance.

Sports Shop Manager
    This can be a major source of income for a rink. Stocking quickly moving items is important for urgently needed items such as hockey sticks, tape for hockey players, trunks and tights for figure skaters, and brooms for curling.

Food Service Manager
    This can be a major source of income for a rink, especially from public skating sessions. Hot beverages and nutritious snacks, and meals make the entire experience for skaters and spectators more enjoyable,

Director of Hockey Program

    An organized Hockey Program must weigh the needs of developing new hockey players who are funneled into teams who skate on in-house teams and the more experienced teams who are involved  in traveling to away games and competitions. Having a wide-variety of programs and scheduling them at times participants find desirable is of critical importance to the financial and programmatic success of the venue.

Learn to Play Hockey
    Generally the group class program will have a structure that facilitates directing the young make and female emerging hockey players into entry-level programs organized by the facility. The rink will develop and provide a series of class programs that provide fundamental skating skills that are the foundation of a comprehensive plan to develop hockey.

    Scheduling, quality entry-level instructional programs form the springboard to a successful hockey program for the facility and the community. The learn to Play hockey classes introduce both youth and adult players to the fun and excitement of hockey.

Hockey Tournaments
     Youth and adult hockey (men and women) are essential ingredients of a successful arena operation and part of a complete array of program offerings.

     Hockey tournaments are an excellent way to not only fill voids, but also bring new business and customers into the arena. A lot of planning, organizing and administration is necessary to developing and marketing pre-season, holiday and post- season tournaments for youth and adult hockey teams.

Hockey Schools
    The responsibility to plan, organize, market, and conduct hockey clinics/schools to fill gaps in the summer schedule can be a part time to full time contract position. While there are more youngsters playing hockey in-season, currently many hockey players may reduce or not skate during off-season.

    The competition for a youngster's time (computer, other sports, summer school, etc.) has not necessarily increased summer hockey participation. However, operating as a year-round ice facility, the rink has empty ice to sell. Rink management must plan, organize, and market hockey schools to utilize the open ice time during the summer months and holidays.

Elite Hockey Programs
    Facilities that cater to elite skating athletes are highly competitive. To provide enough ice time, some disciplines may take the ice at 11:00 pm and continue through the night until 5:00 am.

    Elite hockey, like elite figure skating programs has benefits and drawbacks for ice arena management team. There are advantages, disadvantages and requirements of developing and maintaining elite training programed to the ice arena operations. Rinks with two or three ice surfaces are more likely to be able to arrange the ice time necessary to support elite hockey and figure skating programs.

Director of Group Class "Learn to Skate" Programs
    Ice arenas must constantly attract new customers who previously have had little or no experience skating. The goal is to turn first-time skaters and spectators into regular participants, starting by enrolling them in learn-to-skate classes.

    Learn to skate classes evolve into other programs designed to expose skaters to other forms of skating that they may enjoy, thus inspiring them to continue skating.

    Revenue will be generated by hosting related programs such as competitions, ice shows, synchronized teams and advanced figure skating. Learn to play hockey class participants will continue into programs such as specialized clinics, camps, and leagues.  The size of the group class program and revenue generated are directly related to the time and number of classes offered and efficient use of ice time. This can result in the largest revenue per hour program in the arena.

    This individual is responsible for selecting and training employees who will teach the group classes. Quality instruction is essential in the group classes as this is the first direct contact beginning skaters and parents will have with the arena management.

    The best instructors, on and off the ice, are organized and enthusiastic with a thorough knowledge of the subject matter who deliver a well designed program that ensures a quality product is provided consistently with out regard to who is teaching the classes. A package of group classes combined with one or two free public sessions per week will help the students progress rapidly without any compromise in skill levels.

Director of Figure Skating Programs
     Figure Skating is a highly specialized type of skating serving a distinct portion of the skating community.

    Skaters come from learn to skate and specialized programs, such as tot classes, adult classes and from public sessions. Arenas with figure skating programs will have a staff of professional coaches who provide lessons to arena customers through private and "Learn to Skate" programs. 

    The Director of Figure Skating is responsible for selecting and supervising independent contractors who will teach the curling, hockey, speed, and figure skating advanced groups, teams and individuals on and off the ice.

     Quality instruction is essential in maintaining the high technical and ethnical quality that personifies the management of the ice arena.

Skating Competitions
     Competitions are a natural part of a skater's progression in the transition from the learn to skate programs and taking part in USFS testing and competing in open and qualifying competitions.

     Competitions allow skaters to test their skills against others of similar ability levels. Some arena management choose to organize and run ISI competitions or rent ice to a USFS Figure Skating Club.

     The lowest levels of figure skating competitions are structured to be fun and events usually have fewer than six skaters. As skaters acquire more advanced skills, the events become intensely competitive and sometimes there is an elimination and final round.

Skating Shows and Recitals
     The director/choregrapher of the skating shows, carnivals, and recitals can be a part time to full time contract position. These programs may be run by the figure skating club or be a joint production this is part of the rink's well balanced figure skating program. Hosting an ice show or recital has definite benefits to the arena and the skating program. It requires experience to plan, organize, and produce ice shows and recitals.

Summer Figure Skating Schools
    The responsibility to plan, organize, market, and conduct a 8 to 10 week twelve hour MOnday through Friday summer schedule can be a part time to full time contract position. Summer is the perfect time to intensify programming for beginning, intermediate, and advanced figure skaters. 

    Organizing USFS test ice and bi-weekly sanctioned shows can be part of the duties of the summer school director who would  coordinate with the figure skating club.

    A summer skating school is a way to program the arena daytime hours while skaters are on their summer break. A well thought out program will provide room for growth in numbers of participants, as well as growth to more advanced levels.

Elite Figure Skating Programs
    It is the ability of a rink to support elite figure skating programs that serve as an inspiration for younger, developing skaters. 

    Facilities that have an elite coaching staff become training centers when off ice facilities are provided on site. To be considered a true world class facility,  elite figure skating programs must include all of the figure skating disciplines - free skating, dance, pairs, synchronized and Theater on Ice.

    Facilities that cater to elite skating athletes are highly competitive. To provide enough ice time, some disciplines may take the ice at 11:00 pm and continue through the night until 5:00 am.

    There are advantages, disadvantages and requirements of developing and maintaining elite training programed to the ice arena operations. Rinks with two or three ice surfaces are more likely to be able to arrange the ice time necessary to support elite hockey and figure skating programs.

Risk Management Officer - Warnings, Releases, and Training
     A well-developed risk management program will reduce the potential for litigation and provide the basis for an affirmative legal defense.

    The higher potential risk exposure falls under defective equipment and facilities, supervision, and administrative policies.

     A comprehensive risk management strategy should minimize the risk of injury to participants and employees while conserving the property of the arena. The primary goal of risk management is to proactively identify hazards and mitigate the possibility of  an injury or loss before the problem occurs.

Treasurer Operations Budgeting
    The budgeting process and the development of budgets for specific programs needs to be part of the overall business budget.

    The ice skating programs are the principle business activity in an ice arena/ program budgeting is a critical component of the overall arena budgeting process. Whether it is a program's director or the arena manager who is responsible for budgeting, she or he must understand the process, appreciate its value, and importance and be prepared when called upon.

Employee vs Independent Contractor
    Arenas employ a variety of part-time professionals to teach skating and hockey classes, instruct hockey, or conduct facility-sponsored off-ice exercise programs.  If you require these individuals to be at the rink on specific dates and times as part of their employee, they are employees.

    Coaches are independent contractors if they set and control their own schedule of when they are at the rink. Rink management may set criteria for different levels of coaches that spells out what level of skating they can teach and their rates. Such coaches are responsible for carrying liability and health insurance. The usually pay a percentage of their gross lessons to the rink to teach at the facility.

Volunteer Coordinator
    Clubs that are organized for specific sports - curling, hockey, speed and figure skating are essential in operating these programs. They need assistance and support from the rink management if they are to thrive.

    The parents who volunteer to run these clubs are the individuals that plan and staff, and conducting essential programs for their sport. Attracting and utilizing volunteers to supplement the arena staff reduces the rink's payroll. Supplying the volunteers with proper tools and support makes their efforts enjoyable and will keep them returning to help year after year.

Other issues relating to rink management -

Computers for Event Scheduling
     Every business benefits from using computers to manage, schedule, and track every aspect of running the business.  Even small rink operations should be using computers for daily scheduling, class registration, billing, and reporting duties such as sales tax and inventory control.

Retaining Customers
    It takes a lot of money to attract a new customer to any business.

    The goal should be encourage the skaters in taking a full series of classes spanning two years and quickly communicating to the parents of  the importance of purchasing skating equipment for their child.

    Offering a equipment discount with enrolling in a six month group class contract can be an incentive to purchase the initial pair of skates. This course addresses how to retain customers once they associate with the ice arena. The key step to successfully achieving customer retention is to form a relationship with every customer who enters the arena. It is important to know who they are and how much customer loyalty is worth.

Customer Satisfaction and Service
     In every business there are components of customer service that are essential for success. Company mission statements, department mission statements, service strategy statements, etc. collectively build the foundation upon which the facility achieves a positive system of customer service. One disgruntled customer can destroy a hundred positive word of mouth recommendations.

Target Program to Specific Audiences
     A well-planned, effective Marketing Program is essential to the success of every ice arena. Like every other business, successful marketing of a product or service requires first the identification of the appropriate target audiences. The target audiences for marketing ice arena programs can be typically grouped by age, gender and interest.

     Reaching such a wide demographic can be the most challenging aspect of marketing ice arena programs. In some cases it is necessary for the rink to make the effort to organize, plan. promote, and manage hockey, figure and speed skating, curling, synchronized skating, theater on ice, broom ball, etc. until a nucleus of skaters and parents become organized to assume that role.

Web Master, Twittering, and Blogging
    In years passed if an arena manager had the ability to communicate effectively, both verbally and in written formats, he/she would be the logical one to handle all rink communications with the community using phone calls, letters, faxes, e-mail, policy manuals, and face-to-face conversations.

    Given the development of the internet and various electronic communications, it may be necessary to hire a person with the necessary computer program skills to have an advanced Internet web page presence and writing a monthly email based newsletter to build and maintain a client base.

    It is very important that the rink investors understand the dynamics of the communication process and the need to successfully establish a method of communicating the progress of constructing the facility and convey a message of what activities will be launched on specific dates and times. Special pre-opening prices have been proved popular with the public and improves the cash flow of the business.

Programs for a Charter School
   The rink/arena managers may elect to hire an educator whose responsibility it is to creatively work to design programs to the community and schools that features a combination of independent schooling with distance education combined with physical classroom instruction on the site of the sports complex.

Programs for Communities & Schools
   The rink/arena managers may elect to hire a part or full time Public Relations position whose responsibility it is to creatively market their skating facility and its programs to community groups, park and recreation departments, and schools.

Knowing the location and understanding the demographics of the schools and various service groups in the community is essential to planning and involving the community by special promotions and discounted ice arena programs, activities and special skating sessions.

  1. Park and Recreation owned and operated community rinks
  2. Church Owned and Operated Community Centers
  3. Private Membership Skating Clubs
  4. Privately Owned Rinks Open to Public
  1. Market Analysis Summary
  2. Amenities and Services
  3. Naming Rights
  4. Strategy and Implementation Summary
  5. School and Community Programs & Activities
  6. Charter Schools   High School of the Arts
  7. Competitive & Recreation Athletes Health & Wellness Services
  8. Management Summary
  9. Job Descriptions
  10. Financial Plan
  11. Ice Rink Executive Summary

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

The Ultimate Ice Skating Facility
Planning a New Ice Skating Rink
Summary - Developing New Ice Skating Rinks
Executive Summary
Formulating a Rink Proposal
Feasibility Study
Business Financial Structures
Rink Feasibility Study
Facility Design Issues
Facilities Concerned with Design
Design Principles
Ice Skating Rink Business
PDF  When Bigger is Better
PDF  How An Ice Arena Works

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

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