Before you step onto the ice, either with keen fearlessness or with nervous trepidation, check out these quick tips for ice skating beginners to save potential embarrassment.
- Don’t look down — It’s amazing how many people starting out in skating spend all their time looking at their feet rather than in the direction they are going. Instead, keep your head up and look in front of you so at least you can see who or what you are about to collide with!
- Get some good skates — If you’re stepping out for the first time, then hire skates available at most centres will be fine. But if you get the skating bug and decide to take it up, buy a decent pair of skates that will last and most importantly, fit well and provide good support.
- Tie skates the correct way — The right skates for you will not be the correct ones if they are tied incorrectly. Make sure your skates are not too tight or your feet will likely go numb, while having your skates too loose will not provide the proper support for your ankles.
- Warm up slowly — Given that skating takes place generally in a cold arena, then your muscles are initially going to be cold. Prior to skating, it’s not really wise to just throw your leg over a barrier and start stretching. Stretching in a cold environment can lead to muscle tears, so wrap up well (but not as to restrict your movement) and start with some bend and work up to stretching.
- Get some lessons — If you really want to master the basics, then taking some lessons is an absolute must. Take a few group lessons which are available at most rinks and for a variety of ages. Also take a friend along, as learning with someone will help you relax on the ice.
- Don’t lean backwards — Leaning back will likely send you flying on your backside or worse. The best advice is to keep your knees bent and your weight forward. Hold your arms out in front of you and open them wide to help you stay balanced.
- There’s no stopping you! — Naturally, one of the basics you’ll need to know is how to stop. To stop, bend your knees, turn the toes of each foot inwards, point your heels out, and push out on your heels. This will slow you down and bring you to a stop, rather than barreling into an unfortunate stranger.
- Skate in the correct direction — While initially the direction you are skating may not be of your choosing, there is usually a directional rule to follow on the ice, either clockwise or vice-versa. Don’t try skating the wrong way round the ice rink as you’ll end up hurting others and quite possibly yourself.
- Make use of temporary rinks — If you are not fortunate enough to have a skating rink near you, then make the most of temporary ice rinks if one pops up near you. Christmas is a particularly good time to try to visit a temporary ice rink in some major cities, so go along, you’ll have a good time, whatever your skating experience.
- Don’t take it too seriously — When you fall down (and be sure you will), have a laugh about it and get right back up on your skates again. Don’t take yourself or your skating too seriously, after all, even the best end up on their backs from time to time. It’s even funnier if you do it in style!
So there you have it, some useful ice skating tips to get you started. Remember that proper instruction is important, especially if you are wanting to make the step up to more advanced skating used in figure skating, ice hockey or speed skating. But if you are skating purely for fun or even skating for fitness then make sure you actually have fun on the ice, and if the worst comes to the worst, make sure you have a good friend to take down with you.