Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Beginners Guide to Ice Skating

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By Sarah K. 

 

Ice skating is fun and, if you are experienced enough, beautiful. People often place it high on a pedestal and say it’s incredibly difficult. Like practice for eight years and still not be good at it difficult. That’s not necessarily true. 
Some people get it faster than others, but it’s really not that difficult once you get used to it. Actually, I’m still kind of new, I started in late July. If I’m in a position to give you some tips, it can’t be all that difficult, right? 
I made this article for people who are like I was, a little (and by a little I mean a lot) nervous about going ice skating. Perhaps I can make going skating for the first time a little less scary and impossible by showing you the things I wish I'd known. 
So here it is, hopefully it's not too overwhelming and complicated. 
(Disclaimer 1: I’m not a professional, take everything I say with a grain of salt!) 
(Disclaimer 2: Everything here was performed in hockey skates, figure skates have the same basic mechanics, but some things can change between the two types of skates.) 

What to wear 
A lot of people will say that rinks are freezing, like wear a winter coat and still be shivering. That’s not actually true. While they’re chilly, they’re not freezing. 
While wearing a winter coat won’t be necessary, you should still dress warmly. Here are my suggestions. 
A light t-shirt is good, it keeps your shoulders and arms from getting cold, but you won’t be getting slow-cooked when you start moving. And if you fall and end up lying down, you won’t have to learn how cold the ice actually is. 
Be sure to wear pants that you can get wet and dry quickly. Jeans aren’t ideal, but they work, just don’t touch the ice, they don’t dry quickly. Definitely not shorts, maybe later along, but not now. 
For socks, wear some moderately tall and moderately thick socks. It will help keep your feet warm and avoid blisters. 
Wear shoes that are easy to take off and put on and that are comfortable. You’re not going to be wearing your shoes on the ice, but your feet are going to be sore afterwards. 

The difference between hockey skates and figure skates 
If you're new to ice skating, you may not know the difference between hockey skates and figure skates. That’s totally fine, I can show and explain the differences to you. 




These are figure skates. They’re less bulky, the blade is longer, and it has a pick on the toe. They’re pretty good for beginners, and if you ever want to do tricks, these are good for you. 
The blade being longer tends to help you from pitching backwards and forwards (as my older sister discovered). 
The pick, in figure skating, is used to keep you from sliding around when you do a spin, but since you probably aren’t going to be doing that your first time at the rink, you’re probably just going to use it to help stop and get up. You may trip on the pick though, unless you put your foot down flat. 
I have a small warning, if you rent them, they may cause blisters. I mean, all skates might if they don’t fit right, but since figure skates are smaller, they’re a little worse for it. I find hockey skates to be a less likely to chew up my feet, but that's just a personal preference. 




These are hockey skates. They’re bulkier than figure skates, they have no picks, and the blade is shorter. They’re designed for well, hockey, so you can go faster in them. 
Since the blade is shorter, you might pitch forwards and backwards, it’s pretty easy to fix, it’s just annoying and disconcerting. 
The lack of picks is helpful if you don’t always put your feet down flat, but it means stopping different. It also means there’s really only one style to skate (which I will go in depth on in a little bit). 
The bulkiness really doesn’t change anything, my skates are lighter than any figure skates I’ve ever used, but your mileage may vary. 
I really would not suggest these for beginners, when I started with them (after I skated twice with figure skates), I was shaky and unstable, and I kind of knew how to skate. I mean, if you want to, go ahead, but it’s going to be a struggle. 

Now you know the difference between hockey skates and figure skates, now let’s get started. 

Tying your skates 
Skates aren’t really like regular shoes in the way that they need to be nice and tight, otherwise your ankles can roll. I always skated with loose skates, but that’s part of the reason why I was so unstable. It’s doable, but really not ideal. 
Making them secure is often a pain because skates are also tied a little differently (and rental skate laces aren’t usually very good). So, I will show you how to tie them. 
Hook your fingers under the laces and pull them, starting from the toe, where the laces cross over each other, to the top of the skate. 



It’s especially important to have them tight around this area, where your ankle bends. 



It also might help to put the laces through the last hooks/holes on the top of the skates, I’ve found that it keeps my ankles from rolling. 



Then you tie them in a knot, double knot them if you want. 



Now you know how to tie your skates, awesome! Now let’s hit the ice! 

 

Little note before you start 
It’s pretty close to impossible to be a natural the second you touch the ice. I definitely was not great my first round. 
Don’t expect yourself to be amazing at it the first time around the rink, learning to skate is a gradual process, it’s sometimes slow and painful, and ice is really slippery, but you’ll get it. 
If you’re sliding around and fall all over the place, it’s fine, you’ll stop eventually! 

Now go, be awesome! 

Getting on the ice 
Like I said, ice is slippery, and getting onto the ice is kind of daunting, but you got this. 
Put the foot closest to the wall on first, so that you don’t cross your feet. If you need to, also hang onto the boards to steady yourself. You can hang out there for a bit, just be sure not to block the gate if you’re going to be waiting for a while. 
Now you’re on the ice and you’re still alive to tell the tale! Good job! 

Moving 
Now that you’re on the ice, you probably want to move. It’s not like walking, so I will explain. 
If you want to do that fun thing they teach little kids, just march and glide for a second, then march again. It’s a good way to learn, and if anyone laughs, just keep marching because you’re cool, you can skate however you want, they can’t stop you. 
If instead you wish to go straight to the hard way, I will teach that way as well, and call you a brave soul. 

 

Turn one foot away from you and push and when you gain speed, move them more side to side. Also, it helps you maintain speed if you put your weight on the foot that is not pushing. 
This is how you skate on both types of skates, though I’ve never done it with figure skates. 

Stopping 
Well, you’re moving now, right? You could stop by grabbing the wall (at slow speeds), you could try turning your foot away from you and letting your skate blade graze the ice (but I would be careful with it, a little goes a long way), or you could let your pick graze the ice (also be careful, a little goes a very long way with this one). 

 

Just a warning, you may fall down if you’re attempting to stop for the first time. Not to discourage or make you scared, just be aware. 

Falling down 
Falling down is inevitable, so you might as well learn how to do it without hurting yourself. 
When you fall, try not to hit your knees. You’re supposed to fall in such a way that you squat down, then fall sideways onto your thigh. You can also fall on your butt, that works too. Really, don’t hit your knees. 

Getting up 
You know how to fall, you’re probably asking how you get up. 
It’s actually pretty easy. You could grab the wall and pull yourself up, or you could do the regular way. 
This way takes practice, but you’ve got this! 
Just get on your hands and knees, then put one foot on the ice, tilted away from you (or dig your picks in). Like this. 

 

Then push up and put your other foot on the ice. 

 

You might lose your balance for a minute after getting up, this takes practice, but you’ll get it in no time! 

A tip on keeping your balance 
Try to keep your weight forward, not too far though. 
Another way to do this is put your hands out in front of you, like this. 


I know it looks silly, but it works. 
Then when you feel like you’re going to fall, grab your knees. But if you fall, try not to fall on your face, it’s... well, not fun. 

 

(Sorry about the murder-face, that's my neutral face) 

I hope this has helped you at least slightly in your journey to becoming a better skater. Good luck! 


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