Ice skating is a fantastic sport millions enjoy for recreational or sports purposes, and more people of all ages are learning how to ice skate for the first time every year.
Despite the steady uptake of the sport, learning how to get comfortable on your edges takes a certain degree of dedication to advance your skills.
It’s understandable as sliding across ice a few inches thick on a boot with a thin piece of metal attached sounds a bit crazy.
Yet, when you get the hang of it, ice skating is a wonderful experience.
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We’ve been ice skating and selling synthetic ice for years and we'd like to share with you some tips for beginners to help you master the skill..
1. Overcoming the Fear of Trying Something New
Trying a new sport like ice skating can be exciting for some and anxiety-inducing for others.
You’ll probably go through a series of what-ifs in your mind:
- What if I fall and hurt myself?
- What if I look like a newborn foal on the ice?
- What if I never get the hang of it?
Your mindset matters when you’re learning how to ice skate and you want to go into the process eager to learn and have fun.
Skating is a skill; with any skill, it will take some time to learn and even longer to master.
Don’t worry about the difficulty or challenge as these thoughts will only instill a sense of fear.
Just take it slow, smile, have fun and you’ll be good to go.
2. Gear up Properly
Like almost all other activities, ice skating needs the right tools for the job.
As a beginner, the right gear helps you perform on the ice and keeps you safe.
For starters, you’ll need a pair of either rented or bought ice skates.
You’ll just need to know the following:
- Choose the right skates: Get ice skates specific for recreational skating or beginners. We recommend reading our blog on The Best Figure Skates under $200. Purchasing your own skates allows you to get a pair that provides more ankle support and is easy to control.
- Size matters: Ice skate boots typically have different size guides to regular shoes. Follow the size based on the manufacturer for a snug but not too tight fit. Your toes should lightly brush the front of the boot and hold your foot firmly in place.
- Support and comfort: The boot should have sufficient padding and ankle support to prevent blisters or injury.
The right skates can help you enjoy your time on the ice, but you must also stay safe so consider extra protection like a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards.
Wearing long pants and sleeves can also protect your body when you fall.
Note: If you have limited time to get to the rink, you can now learn all your ice skating fundementals in the comfort of your own home with PolyGlide Synthetic Ice.
3. Lacing Up
Ensuring your skates are on right often gets overlooked, but it’s essential for beginners. Ice skates have long laces and a large tongue to provide extra protection, so use them.
Start by loosening your laces so you can slip your feet in easily.
Next, start from the bottom and pull each crossover up so you can have enough lead to tie them up.
Tighten the laces at the top and double knot them, ensuring they’re not too tight or loose.
When you step on the ice, it should feel secure but not uncomfortable.
Lacing up your skates sounds trivial, but it can contribute to your skating experience and help you prevent injury.
4. Learning the Basics
If you're learning how to ice skate, you must learn how to stand, balance, and move on the ice.
First, we have to get used to the feeling of standing on the ice.
Use the rink walls, board, or even an ice skating trainer, an assistive device to help beginners find their balance.
When you release your hands, bend your knees and stay low slightly to maintain your center of gravity and spread your arms slightly to keep your balance.
Marching is one of the best ways to move forward on the ice as a beginner so here's how to get started:
- Place your feet together with your arms outstretched in front of you.
- Bend your knees slightly and begin marching forward.
- After a few steps forward, you’ll build some momentum.
- Place your feet together, and you’ll start to glide.
Practice these steps, and soon you’ll begin to move on the ice with ease.
5. The Art of Falling
Ice skating and falling go hand-in-hand so it's important to learn how to fall without hurting yourself.
We’re not discussing the wipeouts you see with Olympic figure skaters attempting triple axles.
You’ll likely just lose your balance and fall over or slip and fall on your butt.
First, if you feel yourself losing your balance, avoid tensing up, as it can make falling hurt more than needed.
It’s a natural response, but be mindful of this feeling and remember, you should have protective gear, so don’t be afraid to let go.
Bend your knees slightly and try to fall forward or collapse to the side.
Use your arms to brace yourself but resist extending them too far forward to avoid injuring your wrists.
Once you land on the ice, roll to the side, then lift yourself to be on one bended knee.
Place both hands on your thigh and knee to lift yourself using your leg muscles.
Finally, regain your balance by bending your knees and extending your arms again.
Your first few falls can feel like a shock, but you’ll get accustomed to falling and falling correctly with time.
6. Practicing Gliding and Stopping Techniques
Now that you’re comfortable standing and walking around it’s time to build up speed and, more importantly, learn how to stop.
Gliding on the ice
Start by marching a few steps, then place your feet together to start gliding.
Then push off one foot to the side (or behind you) and raise it slightly off the ice.
You’ll begin to pick up speed.
Put the foot down and repeat the motion with the other foot.
Extend this motion longer to begin stroking along the ice.
Applying more force and frequency will help to build up more speed, so be careful!
How to ice skate: Stopping
There are several ways to stop on the ice:
- The Snowplow Stop: This is an introductory or beginner stop.Turn your toes inward when you’re moving with your feet slowly apart. Hold your feet slightly apart and let friction bring you to a stop.
- The T Stop: Simply leave one foot behind and turn the other skate at a 45-degree angle. Bring both feet together to form a ‘T,’ allowing you to come to a stop.
- The Hockey Stop: Anyone learning how to ice skate will enjoy the hockey stop. When you’re skating at a decent speed, bend your knees and turn your hips toward the direction you’d like to stop. Shift your weight away from the direction you’re skating and dig your heels into the ice. This move will help you come to a stop. Hockey stops are the preferred option if you need to stop quickly.
7. Turning on Ice Skates
You can’t keep skating in one direction as you’ll likely run into someone or a wall, so the next lesson involves turning.
Your ice skate blades have an inside and outside edge which can be used to execute turns.
Skate forward with your two feet about shoulder width apart to execute a basic turn.
One foot should be ahead of the other, as you would be when you’re walking.
Picture yourself skating along the edge of a circle and when you’re ready to turn, lean your body and skate slightly in the direction you’d like to turn.
There should also be a slight bend in your knees.
The skate will use the inside edges, guiding you left or right accordingly.
There are other turning skills you can learn over time, such as the Two-Foot Turn and the Forward Outside 3 Turn.
8. Taking Ice Skating Lessons From a Professional Coach
We can write some of the best tips here but the best tip of all?
Getting started on the ice.
Nothing beats experience, however, you’ll still need some help and guidance.so investing in a coach can help you become a proficient skater quickly.
Coaches can help you correct your form and learn the basics faster than any blog or video.
Local rinks can connect you with coaches, and there are online coaches too.
The investment can go a long way.
9. Joining an Ice Skating Community or Group for Regular Practice and Feedback
Skating is even more fun and easier to learn when you do it with friends.
Local rinks also have skating groups or communities that learn and have fun activities together.
Groups have experienced skaters who can naturally help you advance just by being in their proximity.
10. Developing Muscle Strength and Flexibility off the Ice
Ice skating is a full body exercise and as you continue to develop your skating, you’ll realize that it can take a toll on your body.
You’ll also need to be more flexible to perform advanced moves and avoid injury so it would help if you mixed in on and off ice exercises with your skating.
Balance exercises can also improve your performance and flexibility.
By mixing in some exercise, you’ll increase your confidence on the ice, while becoming stronger and more skilled.
Ice skating is an excellent sport anyone can start.
At the same time, the sport can be challenging at first.
It’s essential that you take your time, trust the process and celebrate the small wins and have fun along the way.
Make sure you have the right skates and protective gear.
Once you master the basics, you can take your ice skating in any direction and choose, and have the time of your life in the process.
You also now have the option of learning the basics right at home with your own on our PolyGlide Synthetic Ice Panels and Tiles, where no one will see you fall!.