Learn How to Ice Skate in 10 Steps

Ice skating is a sport you can learn at almost any age. It gives you a good aerobic workout and can improve your balance and coordination. Over time, you'll also strengthen your leg muscles, improve your joint flexibility, and have more endurance.

Health benefits aside, ice skating is fun. You don't need anything except access to an ice rink and the willingness to try something new. Wear clothing that is warm and lightweight and that allows freedom of movement. A helmet isn't required, but if you're afraid of falling, a hockey or snowboarding helmet can give you some added protection (and confidence).

You don't need your own ice skates when you're learning how to skate; you can rent your skates at any public rink for a small charge. But owning your own skates gives you a performance advantage and a custom fit that allows you to improve as a skater.

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Off the Ice: a Proper Fit

Female figure skater tying up skates in skating rink
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Whether you rent skates or buy your own, make sure your skates fit properly and that you have tied them correctly. Don't be afraid to ask someone who works at the rink for help. Your skates should fit snugly but comfortably.

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Find the Entry Door

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Most indoor ice rinks are surrounded by a soft mat or carpet that makes it possible to walk safely to the ice rink's surface. The mat also protects ice skate blades. If you own your skates, walk to the ice surface with skate guards on. Remove the skate guards just before you step onto the ice. Do not walk on concrete or wood with your skates on.

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Get on the Ice and Hold Onto the Rail

Happy friends on skating rink
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Some skaters are frightened when they step on the slippery ice surface; others are excited. Use the rail to acclimate to being on the ice, especially as you make your first skating moves.

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Move Away From the Rail

Family ice-skating outdoors
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Once you work up some courage, move just a bit away from the rail. Bend your knees slightly. Don't let your hands and arms swing around.

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Practice Falling and Getting up on the Ice

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Be ready for that first inevitable fall by practicing. Bend your knees and squat into a dip position. Fall to the side and lean a bit forward as you fall down. Put your hands in your lap. Turn over on your hands and knees. Take one foot and place it between your hands. Then take the other foot and place it between your hands. Push yourself up to standing.

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Move Forward

Mother and daughter ice-skating on rink
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After mastering falling down and getting up, it's time to skate forward. Start by marching in place, then march and move. Next, do short "scooter" steps with one foot at a time. Pretend you are riding a scooter down the street. You can keep your arms in front on imaginary scooter bars for balance. When you are comfortable with the scooter steps, try alternating scooter steps. Take a step on the right foot, rest on two feet, and then step onto the left foot. Try pushing from one foot to the other, and skate around the rink.

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Learn to Stop

Hockey players as seen through the goal
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Push your feet apart and use the flat of the blade to make a bit of snow on the ice and do a snowplow stop. The toes point inward (pigeon-toed). This is similar to skiing.

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Practice Gliding on Two Feet

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March or step across the ice and then "rest." Glide forward for a short distance on two feet.

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Do a Dip

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In a dip, a skater squats down as far as possible. The arms and rear should be level. This is a great exercise to warm up your knees. First, practice doing a dip from a standstill. Once you feel comfortable gliding forward on two feet, practice dips while moving.

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Have Fun Ice Skating

Couple ice skating, holding hands
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Ice skating is fun, so enjoy your time at the rink. After you master these steps, play games on the ice or try to spin, skate backward, glide on one foot, or do forward or backward swizzles. And once you learn the basics, you can stick with gentle laps around the rink or advance to figure skating or ice hockey, depending on your interest.