Ice skating is a fun exercise full of thrills, spills and usually a couple of falls. So if you’re about to step onto the ice for the first time or have only been in the rink for a couple of sessions, here are a few tips and tricks on how to get started as a skating beginner.
When you’re out on the rink, the last thing you want to be thinking about is how much your feet hurt. Most public ice rinks will allow you to rent a pair of skates for each session you book, so if you’re not sure what size you are, try a few pairs on and lace them up correctly to figure out what fits you closely but comfortably.
The Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink has skates sized from J8 to 14 available to hire, so you shouldn’t ever be short of a comfortable pair when you visit. Also make sure you’re wearing microfibre socks or tights rather than cotton socks, which will become cold and wet after a while.
There are three main factors you need to consider when choosing clothes to wear on an ice rink – keeping warm, being free to move and staying protected. Choosing two or three layers that are light and warm will allow you to move without leaving you feeling cold and uncomfortable.
Plus, having a bigger, thicker layer to take along to an outdoor rink will stop you getting chilly as you stand and watch or enjoy your hot chocolate afterwards. Gloves will also help keep your hands warm and protected from any scrapes with the ice. Jeans, thick socks and scarves or loose hats aren’t recommended, as they’ll get in the way if you have a fall.
If you’re just starting out or want to help your little one stay stable and safe on the ice, then wearing some extra guards or hiring a skate aid is recommended to keep everyone upright on their blades or protected in case of a fall. Most rinks will allow you to hire skate aids for your children during their sessions, but you might need to bring your own helmet, elbow or knee pads along if you want to wear them.
Don’t be in a rush to go flying around the ice rink, as this makes it more likely for you to get hurt. Start by holding onto the rail and gain a bit of confidence before you wander much further away from the side. Mastering the basics of moving and stopping on the ice will stand you in good stead as you start to gain more experience and take your skating to the next stage.
A key tip for any beginner is to try and look up and forward when you skate rather than down at your blades. As well as helping you to stay balanced, keeping your eyes up and looking ahead will stop you from crashing into anyone and ensure you’re aware of your surroundings if you fall.
Getting yourself moving is the first step to learning how to skate. From a standstill, start marching slowly to get used to balancing on each foot individually. Then, once you’ve mastered this, start pushing off each foot to make yourself go forward. Take it steady at first until you gain confidence moving in every part of the rink.
Though you might think avoiding landing on the ice as much as possible is the best policy, being used to falling over and getting back up again quickly will help you stay out of other people’s way on the rink. It also means you won’t be as scared of taking a tumble when you venture further out onto the ice.
Getting moving on the ice is one thing, but learning how to stop, slow down and take a rest is just as important to help you stay safe and grow more confident on the ice. Start moving slowly before turning your blades into a pigeon-toed position and using the flat edge to help you come to a halt. To glide to a stop, simply keep your two feet parallel on the ice and drift until you’re at a standstill.
Particularly if you’ve just started skating, the exercise will engage muscles you didn’t know existed. To get you moving comfortably and ensure you’re not sore for days afterwards, have a good stretch before and after your skating sessions. This will help your muscles and joints recover as well as improve your flexibility and strength.
To get better at ice skating, you need to practice as often as possible. So if you have a pop up rink appearing nearby for the winter season, be sure to dust off your skates and book a couple of sessions. This will help you stay on top of your skills and make sure you don’t lose your sense of balance and coordination on the ice.
Ready to give some of our tips and tricks a go on the ice? Then book a ticket for the winter session at Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink. With adult, children and family passes available, everyone is welcome to take their first steps on the ice in our pop-up rink. Take a look at our opening times and prices/link to find out more.