On the surface, ice skating can appear to be intimidating for a beginner. You might have lots of questions regarding starting difficulty, especially if you’ve seen someone executing high-level techniques. But if you’re an absolute beginner, you may be wondering if ice skating is easy to learn.
Ice skating is fairly easy for a beginner, and the most basic moves are fairly simple to pick up. Beginner ice skaters usually start by learning how to march on the ice and do basic glides, and these don’t take your average person longer than a lesson or two to learn.
10 essential tips for ice skating beginners are:
- Check your equipment
- Check your surroundings
- Learn to fall
- Warm yourself up
- Don’t look down
- Observe the rules
- Get to know the staff
- Bring beginner friends
- Know the stop signs
- Be patient
Ice skating is a complicated activity, and depending on the individual there are sticking points that can plateau your learning process, especially if you’re not ready for them. The most basic moves can provide a challenge, but we go through some tips below to make things easier.
Ice skating isn’t that hard for beginners to learn, but there are various hurdles as a beginner you need to be aware of that can add a layer of difficulty. Ice skating is an exercise in patience, and your body adapts to it, but it will do so at its own pace.
The most basic ice skating moves are accessible to beginners, and so you don’t need to be athletically gifted to learn these techniques. However, some beginners are surprised by how hard it can be to maintain balance on their skates.
Beginner skills often includelearning to sit and stand on the ice. This is to get you used to just simply being on a frozen surface. You have to build your confidence on the ice or learning basic gliding will take longer than it needs to.
The next step in your journey will usually include marching. This is to teach you the basics of moving around in ice skating boots. It’s also about getting a feel for your own body and your ability to balance, and it’s important not to rush as these are your foundational skills.
Once you’ve learned about marching, you’ll learn about dipping. A dip is just gliding with your knees bent, sometimes with your arms forwards or your hands on your knees. You’re going to be gliding a lot, and this gets you used to it.
You may be a novice skater, but labeling yourself isn’t always the best approach. It’s a good idea to take stock of what skills you already have.You may be surprised at what carries over and what enables some people to learn the basics while others struggle.
If you’re someone who is in decent shape or is accustomed to physical exercise because of an active occupation, you will most likely have a shorter learning curve. An unfit person who’s not used to exertion will have a tougher time learning the basics. If you have any experience rollerblading or skateboarding, this can greatly speed up the beginning stages.
Are you interested in arts or crafts? You might be surprised to learn you have an advantage, as most arts are built on a foundational skill that take time to develop. As an artist or crafter, you understand it takes time to learn skills. Having an intimate understanding of the learning process will alter your attitude.
However, it doesn’t matter if you’re out of shape and don’t practice arts or crafts. If you’re interested in ice skating then you’ll be able to learn the basic skills. Everyone is different, and as long as you’re improving that’s all that matters.
Anybody, no matter their age, can learn the basics of ice skating. There’s no barrier to entry and it’s not a sport that only young people can partake in. However, your age is going to affect the speed at which you can learn.
A young beginner will have an easier time of it. Children, especially those aged around 5-8 years, have minds like sponges. They’ll pick up the skills a lot faster, and younger people can generally get away with making more mistakes and not sustaining an injury.
Adults might take a bit longer to learn the basics, and it’s very common to see adults misjudge the coordination requirements to ice skate successfully, leading to comical results. However, it might take you a few extra lessons or a bit more time on the rink to pick up the basics.
Elderly people need to take a bit of extra care, and so if you’re an elderly person who’s never ice skated before then it’s better to take things slow and steady. On the plus side, elderly people often have more patience, and it’s not uncommon to see them learn the basics faster than the adults and the kids!
There are various possible hurdles facing a novice, and understanding these is the key to not giving up. If you want to make your beginner stage flow as smoothly as possible it’s a good idea to see what people commonly struggle with. There are some physical and mental challenges to come to grips with.
You’re probably not going to encounter a batch of difficulties as a novice. Usually just one or two specific problems are holding you back. This can be a physical or mental issue, and often simply being aware of this issue and changing your attitude can work wonders.
Ice skating needs good balance, and it’s not uncommon for beginners to be very wobbly on skates for a while. Don’t worry if you’ve had a few lessons or you’ve spent a couple of afternoons on the rink and you still feel a bit off. It can take a long time to feel comfortable in skates. Nobody expects you to be as graceful as an advanced skater, and everyone is a bit shaky at first.
Ice skating requires a high degree of coordination and control. The coordination required to ice skate doesn’t come naturally to most people. Moving on ice is different from moving on solid ground. You have to learn subtle ways to position your body, and this is a skill that develops over time – some people learn it fast and others have to work at it.
Finally, some beginners underestimate how vigorous ice skating can be. Ice skating tends to put people in the moment, and gliding on the ice is a very enjoyable sensation, but some beginners end their first sessions huffing and puffing. Ice skating especially challenges the deeper leg muscles, so you may find yourself having slight muscle burn.
It’s ok to be nervous about falling. One of the biggest fears that novices have is slipping and falling on the ice. However, it’s important to note that as a beginner you’re not able to put a lot of power into gliding and pushing yourself forward. You’re not going to be launching yourself around the rink anytime soon.
In the beginning, having a perfectionist mindset can hold you back. Trying to get perfect technique too early and not focusing on having fun and enjoying yourself is counterproductive. The most successful beginners don’t take it too seriously. Save the perfectionism for later when you’ve mastered the basics.
Learning the basic moves is fairly easy, but mastering them is an entirely different beast. Learning a basic glide might take you an afternoon. Getting that same glide to the point where you’re completely confident might take a few weeks of practice. However, seeing yourself improve week by week is immensely rewarding.
Ice rinks often have different slots for different levels of ability. As a beginner, you should be welcome most of the time. However, ice rinks at sports venues or more specialized venues will have “freestyle slots.”
A freestyle slot is generally for people of a higher level of ability. You often pay by the hour, and sometimes the rules are a little more relaxed. It’s recommended that beginners avoid freestyle slots. As people use these to practice more advanced skills, it makes for a more expensive and intimidating environment to learn in.
The vast majority of rinks open to the public have open slots. These charge a one-time fee, and you can usually skate for an afternoon. These are the best choice for beginners, as most of the people skating will either be beginners or simply skating for fun.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to learn about the rules of the rink before visiting. Your local rink may have specific rules that you need to follow, and they might have slots for beginners. Beginner-only slots can sometimes be cheaper or come with deals, possibly even free lessons as well.
How long it takes to get good at ice skating varies depending on a few factors. For a beginner to get good at the basics, it would take around 7-10 hours. That’s usually around 1 or 2 months, depending on how much you skate. Most beginners will skate for about 1-2 hours a session.
However, it all depends upon your goals. Getting to a point where you’re confident freestyling on the ice on your own might take you months or even years depending upon how often you practice, or how advanced you want to get.
Advanced ice skating techniques come in many different flavors. There are jumps, turns, spins, and even backward gliding motions. Learning these takes a lot of practice, and you have to dedicate large chunks of time. How quickly you learn these depends solely upon the individual.
It’s not just about being able to tick a box and execute a few movements, it’s up to you to decide what getting good means. If getting good means having a fun time on the rink with family and friends then don’t be discouraged, it won’t take long at all.
If getting good means a sense of mastery, and being able to execute advanced techniques in a freestyle environment, then we’re looking at years of practice. It’s up to you to decide how much you want to get out of ice skating, but it’s important to know that mastery always takes a long time.
It doesn’t matter who you are, as absolutely anyone can master the ice skating basics. It might take more or less time than you think, but it’s achievable for a beginner to learn basic gliding techniques and get comfortable on the ice.
However, if you’ve got your goals set on elite skating disciplines, it’s important to note that starting when you’re older will greatly extend the time it takes to learn. More competitive figure skating or speed skating comes with a host of new basic skills and requires a lot of commitment, fitness, and time to develop.
You can teach yourself how to ice skate, but you’re going to encounter plateaus and difficulties from the get-go. It’s going to take you a lot longer and generally speaking it’s probably going to be a frustrating, arduous experience to teach yourself to ice skate instead of getting lessons.
In many ways ice skating is similar to swimming. You have to learn some basic skills just to be able to float in the water. If you launch someone in the water without any pointers or advice you’re going to get a lot of splashing and swallowed water. You might be able to doggy paddle your way out, but you’re not going to be doing a good front crawl without some instruction.
While you might be able to learn some basic skating techniques on your own, even just by watching other people, going any further than that is going to take a huge amount of time. You’d have to figure out how to balance, spin, even stop and start safely all on your own. It’s not impossible but it is incredibly difficult.
Having a professional instructor, even if it’s part of a beginner group course, to point out basic mistakes and help you learn proper techniques will greatly speed up the learning curve and, in the long run, it’ll save you a lot of time.
Taking some lessons will also teach you ice skating skills in the correct order. This will let you build a good foundation and make it so you’re much more confident on the ice much faster. If you approach it on your own, you might ingrain bad habits, which will become a big problem for you later on.
Ice skating is not a dangerous sport for beginners. There’s some risk of falling and maybe sustaining a few bruises, but it’s not overly dangerous if you’re careful about it. Most rinks have rules in place to stop reckless skating, especially when open to the general public.
The very nature of ice skating limits the danger and risk for beginners. You simply can’t generate the power to go quickly. There are also barriers surrounding the rink,so you’re not going to end up in any situations where you’re dangerously out of control.
There is some risk of falling for beginners. In truth, even professional figure skaters lose their balance and fall over from time to time. For a completely new beginner with no experience, trying to skate recklessly could cause them to injure their knees, shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
However, taking a couple of basic lessons or even getting an experienced friend to teach you how to safely balance on the ice is a good idea. Learning from them how to start skating safely and stop when you’re worried about losing your balance eliminates the vast majority of danger.
It’s important to be aware of your surroundings. A lot of beginners focus too much on the ground. If you’re skating on a public rink this can be dangerous, collisions can happen, and they can cause injury. You have to be aware of your surroundings to skate safely.
If you do get injured, by law any public rink will have first aid equipment and first aid trained members of staff. You’ll be looked after and escorted off the ice. T his is very rarely needed but it’s good to know that if you do fall and need help, it’s always there and available.
The second thing is to wear thick and padded clothing, not just clothing that keeps you warm but clothing that can take a little bit of impact. Even if you just wear two layers, or get some elbow and knee pads, this will protect you from most of the impact, and the worst you’ll get is a bruise or two.
Finally, if taking your children ice skating, they should be wearing helmets. Adults usually fall forwards or backward, but children can fall and take the impact on their head or neck. A helmet will prevent any possible injuries should they land headfirst. A helmet will also help keep their heads warm. New adult ice skaters are also recommended to wear helmets.
Before you go anywhere near the ice rink, take some time to check your equipment. Your boots should fit snugly but shouldn’t be strangling your ankles. Boots that are too tight throw your balance off and can reduce your ankle mobility.
Check your clothes fit comfortably and don’t restrict your movement. Make sure any belts and straps that you’re wearing are tightened up enough. This isn’t just to avoid any embarrassing incidents, as it’s also about building good habits. Performing a quick check before you start skating is something every professional does and it’s credited with preventing most injuries.
For specific clothing recommendations, for a beginner, it’s a good idea not to wear jeans as they restrict movement. Avoid wearing scarves or anything that can potentially come loose and fall off, as this can cause injury to yourself and others.
Have a look at the environment before you start skating, as this will help you in various ways. If you’re skating as a family it might be better to wait until the rink quiets down, so you’re less stressed about keeping an eye on the kids.
It’s also helpful for safety, as you’ll be able to navigate to an area that has enough space for you. There are often limits to how many people can be on a rink at once so it’s never going to be too overcrowded. Asking your local rink when the rink is quietest can also be helpful for completely new ice skaters.
Learning to fall is the most important thing a beginner ice skater can learn, and most beginner-based lessons will teach you this. However, the earlier you get comfortable with falling the better it is. Learning how to fall will take the risk of injury out of nearly every beginner fall.
To fall properly, bend your knees and hold your hands out in front of you. This slows your speed down significantly. Lean either forwards or backwards, then gently touch the ground with your hands. Falling on your backside may seem scary at first but you won’t be going fast, and you’ll most likely barely feel anything. You can even practice this at home, using a cushion.
It’s important to do a gentle warm-up before any strenuous physical activity and ice skating is no different. The increased blood flow will help keep your body temperature high enough. Ice rinks are cooled by a process similar to refrigeration,and even if you’re wearing warm clothing a sudden drop in temperature can affect your muscle’s performance.
Warming up also alters your body’s hormone levels, and this puts your body into a heightened level of preparedness. If you’re nervous, a good warm-up can help you feel more confident and ready to take on any challenge.
Your warm-up can be anything that gets the blood flowing slightly, whether that’s gentle stretches, or just walking around a little bit. Depending on your level of fitness you might only need a tiny warm-up. People unused to strenuous activity should take the time to stretch their muscles and get their blood flowing.
A common mistake many beginners make is looking at the floor. This is because subconsciously you’re concerned about balance or hitting an obstacle and falling over. However, ice is completely smooth, there are no elevations or objects to hit.
Looking at the ground can be counterproductive. Putting all your attention on the ground means you’re not as aware of other people around you. You’re drastically increasing the likelihood that you’re going to crash into someone else. It’s far safer to look ahead, even though at first it may make you feel less confident on the ice.
The second reason is due to technique. If you’re looking at the ground then you’re leaning forwards. A slight forward lean also shifts your center of gravity. The primary reason many beginners fall over is because of an excessive forward lean. It also means you’ll take a lot longer to develop the balance and coordination required to ice skate well.
Every ice skating rink has its own rules and regulations. These are not usually complicated, and they’re mostly common-sense items to ensure the safety of everyone, like not putting bags on the rink. However, these rules are important, and they’re there to keep you safe, as well as make the activity more enjoyable.
Most rinks will have a direction you’re advised to follow. This can be clockwise or anti-clockwise, and everyone follows this to ensure people aren’t constantly swerving around each other. Ensure you’re skating in the right direction as just a few people forgetting to follow this rule can cause chaos.
Getting to know the staff in the rink can be a great idea if you plan to skate regularly, as they’ll give you tons of helpful advice, and lots of invaluable support. They’ll often give you tips and pointers on technique, they might tell you about the best deals on equipment, and they’ll otherwise open the doors to a wealth of information that is difficult to find.
Having a reputation for being friendly can present opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be available. The staff has an in-depth knowledge of the rink, and they can tell you the best times to skate, and the best instructors in your area.
Ice skating as a group is the best way of learning the basics. You’re less focused on your own mistakes because everyone around you is at the same level. It can be a good idea to skate with friends who are more experienced, but that depends on their level of expertise.
If your friends and family are all experienced skaters, it might be better to get beginner group lessons. Being the only beginner in a group can make you feel like you’re put under a microscope, which doesn’t help get through the beginner stagesand can potentially deter you from ice skating in the future.
Ice skating is a vigorous activity, and sometimes people are caught off guard by its physical demands. There are some signals your body sends you when it’s time to stop. You might be motivated to carry on further and tough it out but there are diminishing returns. When you’re learning a new sports technique, fatigue can ingrain bad habits.
The signs to look out for are excessive shaking in your thigh muscles and deep fatigue around the hips. This means the deep muscles in your lower body are fatigued, and once this happens it’s best to finish your session.
The next sign is locked knees. If you’re struggling to maintain a bend in your knee it means the more powerful muscles in your thigh and buttocks are fatiguing. It’s best to finish your session because knee bends are integral to slowing down and safe falling.
It may be frustrating if you’re falling down or not getting the balance as fast as you’d like. However, it is important to slow down and take things at a comfortable pace. This may seem paradoxical but by slowing down, you may learn faster. You’re giving your brain the feedback it needs to develop a whole new set of skills.
Getting frustrated and stressed over a lack of progress is only going to further stall your development. It’s better to take a break, start again, and take it slow. If you’re taking your first steps on the ice, enjoy the challenges – you’ll be shocked how much you’ll improve in just a few weeks.
Ice skating is easy for a beginner to learn but hard to master. Learning the basic techniques doesn’t take long, but getting to a stage where you feel completely comfortable and confident on the ice can take some time. In many ways ice skating can be as difficult as you want it to be, and advanced disciplines like figure skating can take years to master.