How to Ice Skate Like a Pro Without Ice (2023)
There's no better feeling than lacing up some ice skates and gliding around with friends or competing in ice hockey or figure skating.
Ice skating has been around for over a century, yet less than 5% of Americans still know how to do it.
On a positive note, ice hockey has been growing in demand, so more people want to learn how to ice skate today than ever before.
Yet, there seems to be something holding even more people back and it may just be the perceived difficulty.
Ice skating may look like this crazy feat as you see the best in the world figure skating, speed skating, or playing ice hockey.
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It's a challenging skill to learn but trust me when I say, If you can learn to walk, you can learn to ice skate!
The difficulty lies in consistent practice, which can only happen with access to ice.
We're not only going to break down the fundamentals of skating, but we will also cover learning to skate without ice.
If that sounds too good to be true, read on to find out!
Benefits of ice skating
So why ice skate in the first place?
People initially created ice skating out of necessity and was critical for transporting goods across miles of ice in frigid climates.
Now, it's part of hobbies, sports, and entertainment.
Skating is more than gliding across a glorified ice block and in time skaters who practice will improve balance, agility, and lower body strength.
Ice skating is a fun way to stay in shape, and you can build fantastic cardiovascular endurance.
Over time, your body and mind will thank you for investing in this fun, physical activity.
What we've enjoyed about skating over the years is its community.
With skating, friends and families come together to enjoy a shared experience.
It's a path for kids and adults to express themselves, learn a skill, and possibly pursue a skating-related sport.
Overall, it's just fun!
When winter rolls around, it's hard to find physical activities that will lift your mood.
If you've been thinking about learning, now's your time to get started.
Can you learn how to ice skate without ice?
You need three things if you want to learn how to ice skate:
- Ice (you can buy fake ice here)
- Skates: Figure Skates or Hockey Skates
- Someone to teach you
But what if you don't have ice or skates can you still learn how to ice skate?
It seems ridiculous to suggest you can skate without ice as it is called 'ice skating', after all.
The fact is that everyone does not have access to an ice rink and in some states, the ratio of ice rinks to people is as high as 1 in 15,000!
That means you may need some other way to learn how to ice skate.
Here's three options to consider:
1. Try cross-training in a similar discipline
You can learn the basics with inline skates, like rollerblades.
Inline skates are relatively inexpensive and provide another way to practice that's always been quite popular.
It's not the exact science as you can't practice your "edge work" but inline skates will emulate the balance and control that's required on ice skates.
You'll be able to skate with them on any hard surface like concrete, wood or sport court to get in a workout.
2. Get socks and a slide board
If you're looking to emulate a pro skater's positioning, balance, and technique, consider a slide board.
Slide boards are great for learning how to ice skate because they help you develop the motion, push, and muscle memory, plus they are easy to practice on at home
Slide boards are long, rectangular boards that are available in multiple sizes and have foot stops on each side of the polymer, flat surface.
This smooth, slick board allows you to push off and slide side-to-side emulating the skating stride that will strengthen your leg muscles.
All you'll need is a pair of socks or special booties, and you can begin improving your stride and deep knee bend.
You can purchase a Slide Board here.
3. Invest in synthetic ice
Synthetic ice is perhaps the best and closest option for skating without 'ice,' and by far, one of the best ways to learn how to ice skate.
Synthetic is basically fake ice that you can set up in your garage, basement, driveway or other flat surface and have the experience of ice skating at your own home, any time of year.
Skaters have been utilizing synthetic ice for off-ice training for many years using traditional ice skates with metal blades.
Synthetic ice is square tiles or panels made of special polymer material that can handle the wear and tear of hockey and figure skates.
The tiles or panels are infused with a special slip agent and connect like puzzle pieces to form a surface where you can use ice skates.
We have three size options for you to consider:
- Home Ice Starter Kit (4-per kit)
- Pro-Glide Panel
- Pro-Glide 1/2 Panel
While the friction is slightly higher than natural ice, this is as close to the real thing as it gets and makes for the ideal "ice simulator".
There are a significant amount of public skating rinks, backyard rinks, and commercial spaces that implement synthetic ice for off-ice training.
This option provides the ultimate training tool in helping you learn how to skate like a pro.
Learn How to Ice Skate Using these 5 fundamentals
To start off, it's important for us to cover some basics and for you to practice these core moves so you can get a feel for skating.
Before you do anything, make sure you're dressed for the occasion.
Wear warm but breathable clothing if you're outside during Fall or Winter.
Bundle up or strip down according to the situation as it's important that you don't have too many layers that restrict your movement.
If you're using ice skates or inline skates, make sure they are the right size so they fit comfortably.
Your next stop is to get on the surface without falling by steadying yourself on a wall or railing. From there, push off and start learning the following:
1. Learn toMarch
Marching is one of the more popular basic moves in skating.
As the name suggests, you'll be moving forward in a marching motion.
Keep the hands spread apart to form a 'T' with the knees slightly bent for balance.
Then raise one foot up and back, repeating the process until a smooth marching movement pushes you forward.
2. Practice falling and getting up
Falling is a significant part of skating and is inevitable so it's important to practice falling correctly.
If you feel like you're about to fall, bend your knees and place your hands in front of you to try to stop all movement and regain balance.
If that fails and you still fall, make sure to lower yourself and adopt a sitting position when you fall, if possible.
Let your butt take most of the hit, and avoid falling on your knees or outstretched hands.
To get back up, move onto your hands and knees like a dog or cat and get one knee up, then place one foot on the surface (synthetic or roller)
Take both hands on that knee and apply a little force to hoist the rest of the body off the floor.
The more you practice falling and getting up, the less intimidated you become by the concept and the more fun you'll have skating.
3. Learning to Glide Forward
Gliding is an upgrade from the marching technique as you start off for a few steps, then glide with both feet on the surface (synthetic or roller).
The momentum will allow you to move and glide for a few feet and you can repeat the process until eventually, you'll march and glide on each foot.
This technique helps you to establish a smooth stroking movement by pushing off of one foot and gliding onto the other.
Keep your hands apart to maintain balance, with knees bent and torso upright.
4. Practice Turning
Turning will help you navigate the ice, especially when there are other skaters around or you're playing hockey with friends.
If you want to turn left, you'll bend your knees (a deep knee bend helps) and shift your weight to the left.
The outside edge of the left skate and the inside edge of the right skate will help with turning.
Then let the left skate drift in front to help steer your body in the right direction.
Turn your head and shoulders to help you naturally turn to the left.
The opposite strategy is needed for turning right.
5. Learning to Stop
Stopping is one of the coolest things you can learn, and is essential when learning to ice skate, as there are many ways to do it.
Hockey Stop: While gliding with two feet, turn the hips to the side, bend and drive the feet into the ice. A great exercise at a skating rink is holding onto the rink wall and making clumps of ice by repeatedly sliding your skate away from the body.
Snowplow Stop: Hold your arms and hands out to the side for balance with both legs apart. When you're ready to stop, bend your knees and turn one foot inward to form a V position (you can also turn both feet inward slightly).
T Stop: When you're in a glide, place the feet in a T position (heel of one foot lined up to the middle of the other) and shift your weight to the back leg.
Stopping takes lots of time and practice to master so find the easiest one for you, get comfy, then move on to the next one.
Now with the basics in mind, let's try to apply these fundamentals to scenarios where we don't have actual 'ice.'
How To Ice Skate Without Ice – Cross Training With Inline Skates
Inline skates can help with the feeling of balance, movement, and agility while building up your power and stamina.
Furthermore, confident inline skating can translate to confident ice skating.
Inline skating surfaces have much more friction than natural ice also, the wheels constantly make contact with the surface, unlike ice skating.
You'll also need to learn to stop without the breaking mechanism that's built into these skates so be sure to add some protective gear.
If you already know how to inline skate, focus on turning, gliding, and stopping (without using the breaking mechanism).
For beginners, the marching and gliding techniques are a great starting point.
The goal of training for ice skating is to practice the same stances you'll use when gliding, turning and stopping.
Keep your knees bent and hands out to the side while working on maintaining your balance, especially on one leg.
How To Skate Without Ice – Using A Slide Board
Slide boards are somewhat limited in what you can learn but you can still strengthen your stride and practice skills that will make you a stronger skater.
Here's what you can do with your slide board:
- Work on your balance: Start on one end of the slide board, facing the other end. Push off the edge, practicing a balanced stance. Keep your knees bents and your arms outward until you get to the other end. Turn around and repeat the exercise.
- Practice gliding: Keep your body in a low skier's pose and slide from one end of the board to the other. Repeat at many times as possible. Another great drill is to push off on one foot and glide to the other end, maintaining your balance. Try pushing off forward and backward with a focus on balance. Build up speed and strength by performing these exercises faster.
- Practice snowplow hockey stops: Start on one end and slide to the other before you reach the end, turn your body and practice the hockey stop or snowplow stop.
Slide boards are perfect for building strength and learning the fundamental stances and motions for skating.
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There will still be a learning curve when adding ice skates, but you'll have the basics.
As a bonus, you can get a slide board made with synthetic ice, then try these techniques with your ice skates.
How To Skate Without Ice – Synthetic Ice
Synthetic ice is the best way to train without 'natural ice.' There's a slight difference in friction, but beginners won't feel the difference.
A big advantage is falling won't feel as painful as the hard ice.
Set up your synthetic ice rink by connecting the tiles or panels on a flat surface. We have several articles and tutorials on setting up a backyard ice rink.
Start skating by practicing the earlier marching technique. March and glide to one side and back to the other.
When comfortable, move on to gliding and stroking from one side to the next.
Finally, practice different types of stopping and turning. Because synthetic ice is the only ice simulator where you can use your metal ice skates, you'll learn the fastest!
Ice skating is all about working on the basics that provide balance, strength, and confidence.
It also requires lots of practice to achieve some level of mastery, which can be difficult without access to a rink.
You don't need to use that as an excuse to hold you back from something you're interested in or enjoy.
Start with any of the options we mentioned; inline skating, slide boards or synthetic ice.
Ice skating is fun with company, so get friends or family to join in your journey.
Once you get gliding, falling, turning, and stopping down to a science, you can add neat tricks to really look like a pro.
If you need help sourcing slide boards, synthetic ice, or other helpful tools on your ice skating journey, feel free to connect with our team.
Most of all, have fun and keep practicing!