Ice skating for the first time? Tips to keep you on your feet

October 13, 2015

Gliding across a pond in the sparkly winter sunshine can be exhilarating, but if you've never been ice skating, the idea might be slightly terrifying. Don't worry! Even total beginners can enjoy a day of ice skating if you follow some basic techniques to keep your feet out on the ice.

Ice skating for the first time? Tips to keep you on your feet

The right clothes

  • Wear several layers of insulated gear to keep warm, but choose items that aren't too bulky, so that you can move freely.
  • It's also a good idea to wear pants that will allow you ease of movement. Yoga pants over thermal underwear can accomplish both objectives.
  • You will also need gloves to protect your hands when you touch the ice.
  • Finally, make sure your socks are crew length or longer so that the leather of the skate doesn't rub against your skin and give you a blister.

Keep your balance

  • When stepping onto the ice for the first time, resist the temptation to hold onto the boards or another person for support.
  • This motion will actually cause you to lean to the side and could pull you off balance. Instead, bend your knees slightly and lower your bottom into a semi-sitting position.
  • This will lower your centre of gravity and keep you centred over your skates.
  • Hold your arms out at a 45-degree angle for balance. If you start to feel wobbly, deepen your knee bend and sitting posture while pressing your hands forward.
  • This should stabilize you and prevent an awkward fall.

The art of falling

  • If you must fall (and in skating, it's likely that you will at least once or twice), hitting the ice from that low, sitting position is the least painful way to do it.
  • Try to control your fall so that you land on your bottom or your side, which will help to prevent injury.
  • Flailing your arms and legs is likely to send you falling backwards, which puts you at much greater risk for a head injury. When in doubt, sit down.

Getting back up

  • If you do fall, come up into a kneeling position, then plant one skate firmly on the ice directly in front of your body.
  • Place your hands on your raised knee and slowly press yourself up until you can plant your other skate onto the ice.
  • Drop into your semi-sitting position for balance until you feel secure, then rise to a standing position.

Gliding forward

  • To get moving on the ice, try some forward swizzles.
  • Press your feet into the ice and push them out in an arc just wider than hip distance, then pull your feet back together until they are almost touching.
  • Continue this in-and-out motion in smooth arcs and you will propel yourself forward.
  • This is a great move for beginners because both feet stay on the ice, reducing your risk of a fall while you get used to the feel of skating.
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