How To Do a One-Foot Glide on Figure Skates

Young female figure skater moving on ice rink at competition
Learning the one-foot glide can be simple with these tips. Westend61 / Getty Images

Gliding forward on one foot is a basic move that all figure skaters and ice hockey players must master. But if you're new to ice skating, this may seem impossible to do when you're still learning how to stay upright on two feet. With practice and a little self-confidence, you can learn how to glide and skate on one foot.

Get Gliding

Before you attempt this or any figure-skating technique for the first time, it helps to have had a couple introductory lessons. You should be able to skate from one end of the rink and back before attempting this technique. At the rink, lace up and warm up, then get going.

  1. Glide on two feet first. You may want to gain some speed by skating a few paces first. Once you're going, bend your knees and maintain balance by putting your hands on your hips or putting your arms out in front of you on an imaginary table.
  2. Transfer your weight to one foot. Here comes the scary part. Gradually shift your weight to one foot. For many new ice skaters, your right foot may feel stronger than your left foot.
  3. Lift up your other foot. In order to glide forward in a straight line, you'll need to be on the edge of your ice skate blade, not on the flat blade base. Gently shift your weight just enough to allow the edge to bite into the ice and lift your other foot.
  4. Hold the one-foot glide. Don't worry if you can't stay on one foot for more than a few feet at first. This will take practice. A good goal for beginners is to be able to skate for a distance equal to your height.

That's the basic technique. Begin by practicing the transition from two feet to one. Once you're comfortable doing that, you can start trying to raise one foot as you glide forward. 

Tips for Beginners

The most important thing to remember is that learning how to figure skate takes time and patience. Here are some things to bear in mind as you master the one-foot glide.

  1. Be smart. If you're new to exercising or if you have pre-existing health issues, check with your doctor before hitting the ice.
  2. Don't rush. Allow yourself a minimum of one hour per practice session and hit the rink at least once a week. Ideally, you should be practicing two or three times per week, either on your own or with a coach.
  3. Warm up before each practice session and allow for the cool-down time afterward.
  4. Go to the gym. Ice time is important, but you'll also need to strengthen and condition your muscles, especially your core and lower body.
  5. Stay balanced. On the ice, don’t swing your arms around or you risk falling. To maintain your balance, hold your arms out front at waist level or put your hands on your hips.