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How to learn to ice skate

Whether you’ve visited an ice rink or watched the Olympic figure skaters on TV and been inspired to give ice skating a go, you might wonder where’s best to start. Though the best (and only) way to learn is to put on some skates and head to your nearest rink, there are some tips and advice you need to keep in mind when taking to the ice for the first time.

Why learn to ice skate?

Apart from ice skating being one of the coolest sports in the world, heading into the rink regularly can bring plenty of benefits to your health and wellbeing. To ice skate well, you’ve got to develop strength, coordination and balance. An accessible but challenging exercise, it engages your heart, muscles and joints without placing high levels of impact on your body.

Plus, ice skating is as much of a mental exercise as a physical one. A test of your resilience and endurance, you have to get used to falling and getting back up again to become a good ice skater. It’s also a great way to develop confidence in your own capabilities and gives a great sense of achievement as you learn particular skills like gliding, turning and stopping. Ice skating is also a highly sociable sport, so you’re likely to find lots of people who will help you learn and improve.

How do you start learning to ice skate?

The best way to start learning to ice skate is to find your nearest rink, put on some skates and have a go. It will take a few sessions to build up your confidence and skills, so don’t be put off if you can’t glide after your first 45 minutes on the ice. To get started in the rink, try out these steps:

  • Find your way into the rink: though this might seem obvious, negotiating your way onto the ice is a skill in itself. Make sure you find the entry door and take it steady as you move from the mat or carpet on the side of the rink onto the ice. You may have to remove guards from your skates before doing this.
  • Start by holding onto the rail: as you get used to the ice and build your confidence, keeping one or two hands on the rail and working your way around the edge of the rink is a good idea.
  • Practice getting up from a fall: whether it’s intentional or not, as you start to move away from the rail, you’ll inevitably end up on your bottom at least once. This is all part of the experience, but it’s important to know how to get up and restabilise yourself, even if you’re in the middle of the rink.
  • Learn how to move, stop and glide: once you find your feet, the next step is to get used to moving around the rink. Start by marching before ‘scooting’ with one foot at a time to get you moving forward. Then learn how to stop by pushing your feet into a ‘pigeon-toed’ position and using the flat of the blade to stop. Learning how to glide with two feet is also a great beginners’ skill to master.
  • Try a dip: if you’ve had a few sessions and feel like you can move confidently, the next step is to try a skater squat. Start by doing one holding onto the rail or as you’re still in the middle of the rink. Once you’ve got the hang of this, try one while moving to help you find your balance.

To help you master these skills or take on more advanced moves, you might want to consider ice skating lessons to improve your capabilities or try out some new tricks.

Where can you find ice skating lessons?

Most permanent ice rinks will offer some skating lessons, so be sure to check their website or get in touch with their team to see what options they can offer you. However, before you book onto a course or buy a package, spend at least a couple of hours on the ice or try out a taster session so you can find your feet and check the sport is right for you.

If you want to take your capabilities to the next level or even try your hand at figure skating, you might want to consider finding a private coach. Again, make sure you try out a taster session with them before you commit so you know you’ll have a positive experience and be able to work with them effectively.

Take your first step onto the ice

Whether you’ve never tried it before or you want to brush off your skates for the first time in a while, why not book tickets for a session at Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink? A stunning outdoor skating arena, it’s a great place for getting to grips with the basics or enjoy a spin in spectacular surroundings this winter. Head to our opening times and prices page /Link for more information.

Book now