What Is an Ice Skating Patch?

About.com's Figure Skating Expert JO ANN Schneider Farris Practices Compulsory Figures On a Patch
About.com's Figure Skating Expert JO ANN Schneider Farris Practices Compulsory Figures On a Patch. Photo by Christie Sausa


Compulsory figures were practiced on a piece of clean and shiny ice called a Patch. Most ice arenas no longer offer Patch sessions, but there are a few rinks that still make Patch sessions available.

Since compulsory figures are no longer required in competitive skating, most skaters no longer "do Patch."

Most ice arenas were divided into ten strips of ice and then each strip was cut in two halves.

Most rinks could fit twenty patches on an ice sheet, but some large rinks could fit in twenty-two patches.

Patch practice sessions were usually one-hour in length. Most skaters needed at least two hours of patch time per day.

These patches of ice were completely clean pieces of ice with not a mark or skid on them. The skaters would trace perfect circles on these clean pieces of ice.

The tracings left on the ice by advanced skaters were quite beautiful. There was a series of tests that included many different figures. The highest figure test was/is called the 8th Test. The figures in the 8th Test are very difficult. The 8th Test includes figures called Paragraph Double Threes and Paragraph Loops.

To practice all the figures in the 8th Test, a skater needed at least three hours of Patch per day, but four hours of Patch per day was what was really needed.

To compete at the top level, all skaters had to first pass the 8th Test.

Placing high in figures in competition was very important and did affect a skater's chances in doing well in the freestyle part of an event.

Also Known As:

A Patch Session


Most skaters first did a one-hour Patch session and would then change into a different pair of skates and skate a second session that followed a Patch session.

That session was (and still is called) a Freestyle. It was common to hear skaters say, "I'm doing two Patches and two Freestyles today."

No one liked to skate on an "end patch." The ice on an "end patch" was too small to fit in all the figures a skater needed to practice. It was on an end of the rink.