According to Statista, there are over 10 million active ice skaters in the US since 2017 and even more that learn to skate every year.
This figure has increased steadily ever since.
Around the holiday period, that "learn to skate" figure hits fever pitch.
The cold weather means more ice rinks, frozen lakes, and persons creating their backyard ice rinks.
It’s skating with friends and family around Christmas lights.
Even those who have no access to natural ice get synthetic ice panels so that they could enjoy skating in their homes.
With every passing Holiday season we see people lacing-up skates for the very first time.
They want to learn to skate but are a bit scared to get out on the ice.
On a large rink, that expanse of ice feels intimidating.
Even on synthetic ice, new skaters can feel a little bit out of their depth at first.
If you’re thinking about skating, we encourage you to jump right in.
But First, Why Should I Pick Up Ice Skating?
Skating is one of the best complete body exercises around.
You need full control of your body and legs, and you’ll feel your calves, hamstrings, and core burn as you learn to skate.
Ice skating improves your flexibility, balance and increases your endurance.
The constant movement does wonders for your cardiovascular system and weight management.
Just one hour on the ice can burn up to 850 calories.
Best of all, ice skating brings people together to have fun with ice sports and build a community sense.
You’ll have fun with your friends, family, and even pick up a long-term hobby.
So if you’re ready to learn to skate, these ten tips will help bring you at ease.
Let's Get Started
Of course, before you learn to skate, you need to have some essentials.
First, make sure you’ve dressed appropriately for skating.
If you’re skating at a rink, dress warmly without bundling up too much.
You still want to move freely, after all.
Wear a long-sleeved top and a beanie or hat to keep your head warm.
For synthetic ice rinks, the temperature should be in your favor.
However, in both cases, wear leggings or comfortable pants.
Jeans will make ice skating uncomfortable and difficult.
Some persons wear helmets at first.
It’s not a requirement but can be useful in certain circumstances.
Kids learning hockey, for example, should wear a helmet.
1. The Most Crucial Tool You’ll Need.
Of course, you’ll need a pair of ice skates to learn to skate.
In most cases, you can rent a pair of skates.
However, if you’re looking to skate long-term, consider investing in a pair.
This is especially true for those who have their synthetic ice rinks or plan to create one at home.
There are different skates for different sports and applications.
Figure skating and hockey each have their type of skates.
As a starter, however, you should get a pair of recreational skates.
As you improve or decide to pursue a particular type of skating activity, you can get the relevant skates you will need to learn to skate.
Comfort is critical here.
Make sure your skates are snug, with just enough space for your toes to breathe.
For kids, avoid buying skates that are too big in the hopes that they grow into them.
This can easily cause injury.
Lace your skates up tight so that they feel like a part of your foot.
Now it’s time to learn to skate!
2. Walk Before You Skate.
The goal for a new skater is to get accustomed to the ice beneath your feet.
Start off by marching in place.
When that feels good, you can start marching forward slowly.
It’s ok if you need some support.
This might mean holding onto a rail, wall, or friend.
For many, synthetic ice feels a bit more comfortable to march on, and you’ll get the hang of walking a bit faster due to the slight difference in friction between natural ice and synthetic ice.
Keep your arms in front of you for balance, then practice simple steps and glides.
Before you know it, you’ll experience your first fall.
3. You Can’t Skate Without Falling.
Falling is inevitable in skating. If you watch figure skating, even seasoned professionals fall.
So as a part of your ice skating lesson, you'll need to learn how to fall as you learn to skate.
If you feel yourself losing balance, bend your knees and if you start falling, fall to the side.
To get back up, turn over to your hands and knees.
Bring one foot between your hands, then the other, using your hands to balance as you get back on both feet.
Falling could be jarring at first, but you can’t go skate with a fear of falling.
In time, you’ll get more accustomed to falling.
4. Learn How to Stop Safely.
As you start moving and grooving, you’ll need to learn how to stop on the ice.
There are actually a few ways you can stop on the ice.
Two popular techniques include:
- The Snowplow Stop: One of the simplest ways to stop on the ice. As you move, place your arms out in front of you (not too wide, not too narrow) at shoulder height. Bend your needs slightly, which will help you decelerate, then start moving your legs slightly outward to form a ‘V,’ with your toes pointing inward. You will absorb the energy of your skates and come to a stop. Keep your chest upright, so you don’t fall over on your face.
- The Hockey Stop: The hockey stop works well if you’re picking up speed. Slightly bend your knees and then check your hips and turn your skates to one side. Picture yourself pushing your feet into the ice to help you stop quickly. Practice stopping on alternate legs so you’ll feel comfortable stopping no matter which direction you find yourself.
5. Keep Your Eyes "Off" the Prize.
Similar to walking, try not to look at your feet when you’re skating.
This could actually distract you from moving and mess with your form.
If you learn to skate with other people, you can easily bump into them or injure yourself if you’re not looking ahead.
It can feel intimidating, but you’ll get the hang of it faster looking straight ahead than looking down.
6. Focus On Your Form.
With ice skating, your form is a vital part.
The more you practice your form, the easier it will be to skate.
For instance, have a slight bend in your knees as much and possible.
Lean forward slightly as well to help with your balance.
Practice your marching, “scooting,” and gliding (with some falls in between).
Take your time as you learn to push off from one foot and the other.
Beginners should not worry about how they appear to others.
Focus on form to minimize falls and improve the experience.
7. Pick Up Other Useful Moves.
Marching in place and scooting forward is just the start.
You’ll need to pick up some other moves to make skating more enjoyable.
Forward stroking, for instance, is a common ice-skating technique.
As you glide, form a T position with your arms spread outward, knees slightly bent.
Push off from the inside edge of your blade on one foot, and glide slightly on the other foot and make sure to transfer your weight to the front foot.
Bring your feet together again in the T position, the push off with the alternate foot and as you get better, you can extend the pushing leg further behind you at the end of each stroke.
In time, you’ll learn to skate backward, turning, swizzles, and more.
8. Understand Synthetic Ice vs. Natural Ice.
If you’re skating on synthetic ice, it may feel a bit different versus natural ice.
It has been around longer than you think and has evolved over the years.
Synthetic ice has a slightly higher friction coefficient, meaning you can grip your edges slightly better to the surface while you learn to skate.
You can make all the same maneuvers that you can on natural while you learn to skate on synthetic.
Synthetic ice makes skating just as enjoying while making you a stronger, faster skater.
9. Recruit Some Help.
For your first skating experience, you should not do it alone.
Get some help with the basics.
Some rinks have staff available to give you some pointers or a private lesson that you may want to consider.
Even if you don’t have access to a coach or teacher, you can recruit a more experienced friend to skate with you for the first time.
10. Have Fun!
Skating should be a fantastic experience....like taking your first steps!
Even if you fall a few times, there’s a rush you’ll feel from getting the hang of it that can’t be duplicated.
Remember, it's important to have fun learning and bring along some friends while you're at it!
If you like it, then look for a place where you can skate more often.
Perhaps you’ll soon branch off into other levels of skating (hockey, figure skating, etc.).
Taking Your Skating Hobby Home
If you want to skate at your heart’s content, synthetic ice panels are a great way to hone your skills.
When you’re ready to hit the ice next season, you’ll be a pro.
You can outfit your basement, backyard, or spare room into your own mini-ice rink to practice.
These panels feel so close to the real thing that you’ll get stronger and faster, the more you hit the ice.
The holidays are a time for family, friends, and fun.
And what could be more fun than to learn to skate?
Ice skating is a great way to stay active during the winter months and have a blast at the same time.
Whether you're new to the sport or looking to improve your skills, it's a great experience to lace-up and actually know how to skate!
We’ll be the first to admit that ice skating takes some time to pick up.
Kids and adults alike will sometimes feel a bit intimidated.
But without a doubt, ice skating is one of the most fun activities you can try.
Hit your local rink this upcoming season or get your own synthetic ice panels to learn this fantastic new skill.
Now, grab your skates and get skating!!