If I've become knowledgeable about anything since I've started learning how to play hockey, it is on beginner hockey classes. Not the curriculum, but the classes themselves. So far, I've taken "noob" lessons at Franklin Park, Johnny's Ice House and now at the Skatium in Skokie. In fact, I like the Novice Adult Hockey Lessons at the Skatium so much that I am taking the class for a second time. The class runs for 10 or 11 weeks, and is a great program for adults who want to learn how to play hockey.
Target Audience: The novice-level lessons at The Skatium in Skokie is a co-ed class and intended for new or inexperienced hockey players. The only requirement -- besides complete equipment, of course -- is basic skating skills. I asked the class's teacher what exactly that means, and he said that as long as a person can stand on skates and move forward on the ice, he can work with you. So, don't worry if you can't turn, stop or skate backwards -- that's what this class is for!
Cost - ★★★★★
I was enrolled in the last novice session, which cost $193 for 11 classes. The current session costs $175 for 10 classes. That averages to $17.50 per lesson, which is $2.50 less than the average cost of hockey instruction and $5 less per lesson than Hockey 101 at Johnny's Ice House.
Making things even better is that novice lessons at Skokie are one hour and fifteen minutes long -- lessons are an hour long at most other facilities -- so that means you are averaging $14 per hour for hockey instruction, which is an absolute steal! Registration for USA Hockey is not required like it is at some rinks, and residents of Skokie, Golf, Lincolnwood and Morton Grove get a 10% discount. But please keep in mind that this price information is subject to change.
Ice Surface - ★★★★☆
Classes are held on the studio ice rink, which measures 100' by 60'; roughly half the length and two-thirds the width of a standard rink. There's enough room to comfortably do most skating drills except full-on sprints. The ice is always resurfaced before class time. Sometimes the ice can be a little choppy, but for the most part really does not have any problems. It does feel cramped, though, when the class is full.
Class Size - ★★★★☆
The Novice Adult Hockey Class allows up to 16 students. With that many students, it sometimes feels like forever to take your turn when doing a drill. Many times only 10 or 12 students show up, which gives the rest of us a bit more room and more time in the scrimmage.
Lessons - ★★★★★
Classes start with warm-ups, followed by skating drills. Don't be fooled by the fact that this class is labeled "novice;" many times, the instructor will teach you skating moves that don't feel very novice, such as T-stops or backwards crossovers. But this is a good thing. Instead of doing very basic skating moves over and over ad nauseum, you'll be challenged -- and surprised -- by all the new skating techniques you learn.
After skating drills, you can expect puck handling and puck moving drills, such as passing, shooting, 1-on-1, 2-on-1 and breakouts. If none of those drills make sense yet, don't worry -- you will learn. Class usually ends with a 15-minute scrimmage, which is a nice way to try and apply what you learned that night.
Quality of Instruction - ★★★★★
The instructor for this class is friendly, patient and knowledgeable. He is genuinely engaged in the learning and the success of the students in the class, and will gladly answer any and all questions.
Amenities - ★★★★☆
One locker room near the studio ice rink is allotted for students in the class. Women in this class do not get a locker room, but change in the first aid room, which is next to the large ice rink. Parking is never a problem, as the rink has its own spacious lot. There's a vending machine (the "Virtual Pro Shop") with hockey tape, skate laces and other small items you might need. There is no pro shop, though. Vending machines sell snacks, water, soda and vitamin water, but no sports drinks. The lobby is spacious, comfortable and outfitted with a few televisions. If your significant other tags along but finds watching you learn boring or gets cold easily, they can grab a snack and relax in the lobby.
Etc. - ★★★★★
Registration for adult hockey lessons at The Skatium is first-come, first-serve, so you shouldn't have any trouble getting in so long as you don't wait until the very last minute. You can register for their classes over the phone or online. If you want to register online, then you will have to create an account on the Skokie Park District website, which only activates a new account during normal business hours. So keep in mind that online registration might be a two-day process, depending on if you need an account and what time you try and sign up.
Overall - ★★★★★
I highly recommend the Novice Adult Hockey Class at the Skatium. The price per lesson is lower than what other rinks charge. The class is great for beginners, as well as those who have been learning hockey for some time now. The atmosphere is relaxed, and the instructor is a lot of fun. If you want to learn how to play hockey, this is a great place to start.
For more information, visit:
The Skatium is located at 9340 Weber Park Pl., Skokie, IL 60077 (map).
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