How To Ice Skate for Beginners

You wanted to learn how to ice skate, so you bought a pair of ice skates and headed to the local ice rink. However, once you got there, you suddenly realized you came unprepared. So, you’re sitting there, looking at your brand-new skates while the sound of gusting wind and chirping crickets goes through your mind. You didn’t do your homework.

There’s more to ice skating than just purchasing a pair of skates and appearing at the local skating rink. Sure, that strategy might work, and you’ll learn how to skate eventually, but why take the hard way when you can walk a beaten path?

In this article, we’ll explain all there is to know about ice skating, all the do’s and the don’ts, and what exactly you need to become a good ice skater. Though it may seem daunting in the beginning, especially if you never tried it, learning how to ice skate isn’t all that difficult and can be incredibly fun, even with the occasional fall or two. So, let’s get started.

The Basic Steps, And Why They Matter

Picking up a pair of brand-new skates and visiting a local ice rink is not a bad strategy. It’s just a harder way of learning. Still, you can save yourself a lot of pain caused by blisters, foot injuries, and falling by following the basics we’ll describe in this article.

You can still reap the benefits of occasional reminders by reading our article, despite having a decent “ice mileage” in the rink. The aim of our guide is to help beginners learn how to skate and remind those more experienced of the details they might’ve forgotten.

Preparation is key to success, so, without further ado, let’s pick up our ice skating socks – and dress to impress.

Select The Right Things to Wear

Things to wear for Ice skating

We’ll assume you’re a complete beginner and that you’re learning how to skate for the purposes of acquiring a new skill. The same dressing rules apply if you’re learning how to skate for the purposes of playing ice hockey. Here’s what you should pay attention to:

  • Wear lighter clothes – Wear lighter clothes that are easy to move around and won’t get heavy when wet. So, it’s best that you wear fitted clothing made of polyester, poly-dri, bamboo fiber, or even nylon. Always avoid cotton because it absorbs moisture incredibly quickly, which can leave you drenched in sweat. Ice skating is an exercise, and your body will get warmer as you move, and you might even sweat. So, always wear something made of moisture-wicking material. Moisture-wicking kinds of cotton are a good alternative, but we suggest you wear them as the outside layers of your clothing.
  • Wear a fitted sweater or a light coat – Learning how to skate for beginners is about baby steps, so you won’t move around as vigorously during beginner moves. So, wear a form-fitted sweater or a light jacket to protect yourself from the cold. It should be easy to put on and take off, just in case you get sweaty.
  • Wear the right socks – Socks are incredibly important for avoiding discomfort and foot injury. The whole point of socks is to keep your feet moisture-free and warm, so wear ice skating tights or microfiber socks. Avoid cotton socks, as they won’t soak up the moisture well and will leave your feet cold.
  • Wear a helmet – Falling is an important aspect of learning and a great incentive not to fall again. But apart from being embarrassing, falling on ice can cause injuries, so we suggest you wear a helmet for safety reasons. It will prevent any major injuries to your head in case you fall on the ice.

Ensure That Skates Fit Properly

White Ice Skate

It’s important that you choose the right skates and imperative that they fit properly. Though there’s a world of difference between figure and ice hockey skates, we recommend that you go with the figure skates.

Ice Hockey vs. Figure Skates

Ice hockey skates are fantastic, especially if you’re learning how to skate to play ice hockey. However, ice skating instructors usually recommend figure skates for absolute beginners, as they have longer blades, which offer more stability. Additionally, figure skates aren’t really meant for speed, which is a good thing, especially for beginners. Baby steps, remember?

Once you’ve mastered figure skates, you can easily transition to ice hockey skates, as they perform better and have less overall weight, reducing your fatigue. Ice hockey skates have shorter but deeper blades, which allow increased range of motion, even at high speeds. Additionally, they’re built for professional athleticism, which means that they provide exceptional support and comfort for your feet and ankles.

If you’re interested in purchasing ice hockey skates, check our article about the Best Ice Hockey Skates for Sale.

Choose the Right Size

Ice hockey skates don’t follow the same guidelines as your regular footwear but are usually 1.5 sizes smaller than your street shoe. So, if you’re 7.5 US men’s shoe size, you should look into ice hockey skates in size 6. Of course, there are only approximate measurements and guidelines, so some variations might occur.

A proper fit, which includes choosing the right-sized skates, is imperative for foot-injury prevention and successful ice skating. But size isn’t everything; you also need to find skates that are accommodating your foot type, whether your feet are narrow, wide, extra-wide, or regular.

Important note: purchasing a pair of hobby-level skates is always better than renting a pair at your local skating rink. They can be broken in or even thermally molded to the shape of your foot, making them exceptionally comfortable. With that said, if you’re renting a pair, make sure to bring a pair of extra socks.

How To Ice Skate for Beginners

Skating in Ice

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, it’s time to discuss ice skating for beginners and what guidelines you need to adhere to in order to master ice skating. Please remember that falling is a part of the process, and don’t be discouraged if you fall during practice. Without further ado, it’s time to step onto the ice.

How to Enter the Ice Rink

Once you’ve put your skates on, it’s imperative that you do not remove the skate or blade guards, as you’ll need to walk to the ice. Most indoor rinks are surrounded by a soft mat or carpet that makes it possible to walk safely to the rink’s surface without damaging your skates. Regardless, keep your blade guards on until you find the entry door and remove them just before you step onto the ice.

Get on the Ice and Hold onto the Rail

When you deem it’s safe for you to get onto the ice, place one hand onto the railing so that you can balance yourself. Keep in mind that you’ll probably have to step up, over, or even down as you get on the ice. Make sure to bend your knees slightly and keep them bent at all times when ice skating to avoid falling.

Keeping your knees locked and reaching for an upright position is asking to fall. You can simply avoid it by slightly bending your knees and slightly leaning forward.

Practice Falling

Practice falling makes you better prepared for the very first inevitable fall. If you feel like you’re about to fall, bend your knees and squat into a dip position. If you’ve timed it perfectly, chances are you’re now gliding while in a squatting position. If not, you’ve landed on your backside – squatting into a dip position lessens the fall impact, so you shouldn’t sustain any injury.

If you’re already down, on your back, just put your hands to your sides, and turn over on your hands and knees. Next, take one foot and place it between your hands, followed by your other foot. Remember to bend your knees as you’re pushing yourself to stand.

 We advise you to practice falling while holding onto the rail, as you can better control the movement. Regardless, falling can be practiced anywhere on the ice, as you’ve found out by this point.

Move Forward

After mastering falling down and getting up, you should try and skate forward next to the railing. Now, you don’t want to hold the railing, as it will prevent you from keeping proper balance when ice skating. It’s there for a piece of mind, nothing else.

Next, push away with one foot while resting on the other, like riding a scooter down the street. Go slowly, push with one leg, and rest on both. Then switch. Once you’re comfortable, try alternating scooter steps by pushing with one foot, then the other.

Move Away from the Rail

If you followed our advice and practiced falling before moving away from the rail, the chances are that you already worked up some courage to do so. Try skating slowly alongside the rail, and then let go. Just keep a low, consistent speed, and don’t forget to bend your knees.

Once you’ve gained enough confidence, move away from the rail, and maintain your speed. Don’t forget a few key rules:

  • Keep your knees slightly bent
  • Let go of the rail
  • Don’t look down, keep your head up, and watch where you’re going
  • Don’t let your hands and arms swing around more than necessary
  • Just pretend you’re riding a scooter

Do Some Gliding

Skate across the rink and then rest by simply gliding over the ice on both feet, at least for a short distance. This will allow your legs to cool down slightly and allow you to pace yourself better. Once you’re ready to start skating again, just push yourself with one leg while resting on the other. You should be okay if you keep your knees bent and lean forward slightly. 

Gliding will help you become more comfortable with the feeling, which takes you another step towards improved ice-skating skills. Because, when you think about it, you’re gliding on one foot by pushing yourself with the other and then alternating the movement. That’s how skating works – by alternating gliding movement across the ice.

Learn To Stop

By this point, you’ve probably gained enough confidence to skate a little faster, and therefore you should learn how to stop.

To do this, glide, keeping your feet straight under your shoulders, with your knees bent. Turn the toes of each foot inward, pushing out in the middle of the feet.  Just remember not to lean forward and keep looking where you’re going.

The best thing you can do is practice before you actually need it. Bumping into another skater is unpleasant and can even lead to serious injury, so it’s better to master stopping yourself to the point that it becomes a reflex.

Skating Backwards

To make things more interesting, you can even practice backward skating. Keep your feet parallel to each other and your chest up, shifting your weight to a point between your feet while pushing outwards with the opposite foot. 

Work the balls of your feet to maintain balance while pushing gently. If you can’t find the right balance, shift your toes inwards and try walking backward. You’re likely to find the balance sweet spot while shifting your weight.

Important Ice-Skating Tips to Keep in Mind

Tips for Ice skating

Here are some important ice-skating tips to keep in mind while skating:

  • Warm-up before ice skating. This will help your body get accustomed to the cold and reduce the severity of muscle sores if you’re new to the sport. 
  • Get a decent pair of ice skates if you intend to skate for years to come. Wearing ill-fitting rentals will cause foot injury. 
  • Learn how to lace your skates correctly
  • Don’t hold hands with your significant other or your child. In the likely event of falling, holding their hand usually means pulling them down with you. Besides, everyone needs to find their own balance.
  • Always lean forward, with knees bent and arms pointed towards for good balance. Don’t ever, under any circumstance, lean backward, as it will lead to a not-so-funny type of fall.
  • Dip if you’re going to fall. Don’t worry; falling isn’t so bad, rarely causes serious injury, and rarely hurts. But it can be fun for your friends and family.
  • Keep your head up, and always look where you’re going. Avoid looking at your toe picks to avoid collisions with strangers.
  • Don’t feel bad if you’re not progressing as fast as you hoped. Ice skating is a skill worth developing, but it takes time. If you’re an absolute beginner, you may opt to pay someone to teach you the basics.
  • In the end, it always comes down to practice, practice, practice. Practice makes perfect, remember. However, keep in mind that you also need rest, so don’t overdo it.
  • And the most important piece of advice we can offer is: Have fun!

Conclusion

You’ve just learned the basics of ice skating for beginners, at least the theory part. Now all that remains is to overcome the fear of falling and put your knowledge to good use. Go out there and start skating. Sure, it might be slow and painful at the beginning, but with the knowledge we provided, along with the ice-skating tips, you should skate like a pro in no time. Happy skating.

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