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Skating is a lifelong sport that works core and leg muscles plus improves balance, posture and coordination. And it’s just plain liberating fun to glide across a smooth stretch of ice. It’s a great family activity that costs very little beyond renting skates and perhaps paying a rink entry fee. So what else do you need to know about ice skating?
• Used or rented skates are just fine for beginners and growing children. Skates
should fit snugly, especially at the heel, but you should be able to wiggle your
toes. Don’t be tempted to buy skates that are too big and wear extra layers of
socks. Wear thin, non-cotton socks for best mobility results. Lace skates from
the bottom of the boot to the top.
• Hockey skates have more of a curved blade and are less stable for beginners,
so start out with figure skates.
• Rent or buy a helmet with a face guard to avoid injuries from inevitable falls.
• Wear several thin layers of clothes (avoid jeans) to improve mobility and
warmth. For little kids, add a layer of snow pants, a jacket and mittens for extra
padding. Elbow and knee pads just restrict mobility and aren’t necessary.
• Most skating instruction begins with walking on the ice in skates, and then
progresses to a two-foot glide. Next comes a gentle glide from one foot to the
other, followed by two-foot jumps and one-rotation turns. After a couple of months
you should be able to skate backwards, pushing off your toes to gain momentum.
• Organized lessons help students of all ages by instilling good habits and form.
Look for a fun approach to teaching the skills with an instructor-to-student ratio
of about 1:4 if possible.
• To improve balance, hold your arms out on either side and keep your head up as
you glide. Stand at the side of the rink and practice standing still on one foot and
then the other.
• To stop more effectively, turn your toes in and push your heels out.
• To skate backwards, bend your knees and lean forward slightly onto the balls
of your feet, pushing off with your toes.
• To skate faster, bend your knees and push harder into the ice.
• Only skate on approved natural surfaces with other people around.
• Practice jumps and spins in the middle of the rink, not the parameter where
others are skating.
• Avoid wearing dangling scarves.
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