Ice Skating for Beginners

Head to your nearest ice rink for fun and fitness

Recreational ice skating is a popular activity that can provide an enjoyable cardiovascular workout and an ideal social opportunity.

“I thought it would be a nice break during the day,” says Dan McAskin, vice president of H&R Block Financial Advisors, who skates three times a week during lunchtime at a rink in downtown Detroit. “It reminds me of the feeling I had skating as a kid, the sense of freedom and the exhilaration you feel from the ease of movement and speed.”

People young and old are discovering the joy of ice skating. Instructors say it’s never too late — or too early — to learn how to skate properly and enjoy the benefits of an activity that dates back centuries. In its early days, Swedes used animal bones for blades as a means of speedier travel.

Good family fun

At Detroit’s Troy Sports Center, Marta Markiewicz is an instructor and coordinator of the Learn to Skate program that runs throughout the year.

“I’ve taught [everyone from] 2-year-olds to folks in their 60s,” says Markiewicz, who has seen more adults joining the ranks of recreational skaters. “There’s a growing interest in learning to develop the skills necessary to enjoy the activity with their children,” she says. “For kids, learning to skate is a confidence-builder and a good exercise for a generation of children glued to television and video games.”

Jaimi Tarnow, a former professional skater who now gives lessons, agrees.

“Skating not only promotes better coordination and balance, but your legs become stronger and you can obtain a nice cardiovascular workout,” she says. “It’s also great because it’s something you can do with your friends and family. When you go to the movies, you can’t chat, but at the rink, you can laugh and have fun.”

Tips for beginners

Markiewicz offers these skating tips for beginners young and old:

  1. Sign up for lessons. A professional can show you the proper ways to skate and stop so you will have an enjoyable and safe experience. Many arenas offer instruction.
  2. Use properly fitted skates and take care of them. You may first want to rent skates at a local arena to determine whether you want to take lessons. Then, if you decide to pursue skating, invest in good-quality skates that offer proper ankle support. New skates out of the box are not sharpened. Make sure they are properly sharpened before skating. Skates should be sharpened on average after every 15–20 hours of use. Use rubber skate guards when walking in the skates so the blades won’t get nicked. After skating, wipe the skates with a towel and store them with so-called soakers or dry towels on the blades. Do not store skates with the rubber guards attached because that will cause the blade to rust.
  3. Dress warmly and appropriately. Some rinks are colder than others, but don’t overdo it. You’ll want to be able to move and feel comfortable. You’ll warm up as you skate. Sweatshirts and sweaters with a turtle-neck and a lighter jacket are a good option. Wear gloves or mittens and, if you’re outdoors, a hat. Do not wear socks that are too thick because they can restrict circulation. If you’re in charge of younger children who be falling a lot, consider dressing them in snow pants, but not a heavy jacket that restricts movement.
  4. Wear a helmet. Although helmets are not required for taking lessons at most rinks, they are recommended for new skaters. A hockey helmet is best; otherwise, use a properly fitted bike helmet.

Getting started:

  • Center your weight over your skates and bend your knees slightly but not your waist.
  • Position yourself forward so you don’t fall backward.
  • Keep your arms out like an airplane for balance.
  • First learn to march on the ice, then put glides to the march, then start pushing and gliding (called stroking).
  • Start with feet parallel, then turn your left foot slightly out as you start to push. Then turn your right foot out and push. Continue to alternate.
  • For turning, rotate or twist in the direction you want to turn.

Three proper ways to stop :

  • Snowplow stop : As one foot continues straight in the skating direction, turn the other foot in a 45-degree angle to the first to produce a skid on the flat edge of the skate.
  • T-stop : With the front foot gliding forward, the back stopping foot is placed perpendicular to the skating direction with the instep at the heel of the gliding foot.
  • Hockey stop : The feet are turned perpendicular to the skating direction for a controlled skid with the back foot on an outside edge and the front foot on an inside edge.

Falling down :

Whether you’re a new skater or a professional, falling down comes with the territory. By practicing falling down and getting up, you’ll gain confidence. When you are about to fall, keep the legs bent, not stiff, and try to land on the outer side of one of your thighs or on one side of your bottom, but fall on your side. To get up, get on all fours like a dog and place one foot flat on the ice between your hands. Then stand by pushing your bottom up and placing your other foot close to the foot on the ice before straightening your legs.

  • ice rink 溜冰場
  • skate guard 冰刀套
  • circulation 血液循環
  • recreational : relating to activities for enjoyment when you are not working
  • exhilaration : excitement and happiness
  • means : a method or way of doing something
  • overdo : to do something in a way that is too extreme
  • restrict : to limit movement

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