Ice Skating for Beginners: 5 Essential Tips
If you think about skating for beginners, particularly if you are one, it's actually kind of stressful. I mean, it's pretty natural to strap on a pair of ice skates and immediately panic. (How is anyone supposed to stay upright on what is essentially a giant frozen puddle while balancing atop two pieces of metal as thick as dinner knives?) Luckily, we have a few basic ice-skating tricks to make you a more confident skater, whether you're just learning how to ice skate or advanced enough to try a basic jump.
Moves for Complete Beginners
Whether it's because you're trying something new or mistimed your leap-frog over the zamboni, you're going to eventually fall on the ice. In fact, when we asked 1996 World Figure Skating Champion and Olympian Todd Eldredge for some of his best tips on ice skating for beginners, his very first tip was about knowing how to properly fall to reduce the chance of injury: "You want to fall to the side, never straight forward or straight back. When in doubt, bend your knees and try to fall over to the side."
It's also important to tuck your chin to protect your head from snapping back and hitting the ice. And although it's counterintuitive, don't use your hands to break your fall—it's easy to break a finger or wrist that way.
So you've come to terms with the fact that you're going to fall, opened the rink's waist-high door, clutched the rail on the boards, and stepped tentatively out onto the ice. Now what? Ice-skating tricks require baby steps—both literally and figuratively. Before figure skaters can glide, they need to learn how to walk, which means taking tiny steps across the ice.
Keep your arms out to help you balance and stay close to the wall in case you need something solid to grab. Gradually, you'll embrace your inclination to do less work than you need to do and will stop picking your heavy feet up off the ice, naturally transitioning to a gliding motion.
Moves for Advanced Beginners
The Forward Crossover
Once you get a feel for gliding, you're ready to start picking your feet up off the ice again. You won't be walking this time, but performing a crossover. Crossovers, which involved picking up one foot and stepping over the other while skating, help you turn more quickly and efficiently on a circular rink.
To execute a forward crossover in a counterclockwise direction, pick up your right foot and cross it over the top of your left foot. Pick up your left foot up off the ice and bring your feet together again. Repeat the same motion as you glide around the circle.
The Simple Spin
Spinning may seem difficult, but it's actually a pretty simple motion. When teaching ice skating lessons at his own Champions of America academy, held at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter in McKinney, Texas, Eldredge gives them this advice: "Start on two feet and give a little bit of a push, using your arms to rotate." Hopefully, this momentum will be enough to get you turned around.
When executing a two-foot spin, it's important to stand straight up and look forward. If you drop a shoulder or look down, you can throw off your center of gravity.
The Simple Jump
Like the spin, the jump isn't quite as complex a motion as it seems. Most skaters start out with a waltz jump, which can be done from a takeoff or a standstill. First, try the jump while holding onto the rail to get used to the feeling of it.
Move to the center of the ice and stand on your left foot with your right leg held up in the air behind you. Swing your right foot up and forward and jump up off your left foot, doing a half revolution in the air before landing on your right foot. You don't have to jump more than an inch off the ice, making it perfect for beginners.
For more tips, watch our video:
Ice Skating Lessons Near You
We can help you find lessons, and snag you a great deal at the same time. Click here to search for lessons near you, or check out some of our favorite deals at outdoor and indoor ice skating rinks across the country below:
- Half off four weeks of lessons at Midwest Training and Ice Center in Dyer, IN
- 48% off two months of Learn to Skate classes at Ice Skate USA in Houston, TX
- 53% off three Learn to Skate classes at Nashville Skating Academy in Nashville, TN
- 49% off one private lesson at Simply Skate near Los Angeles, CA
This article was originally published in 2015. It has since been updated.