It always looks so effortless, doesn’t it? You’ve seen it in the movies and on TV – the star steps onto the ice, glides forward, does a graceful pirouette and whizzes off across the rink.
Ok, so maybe it’s not quite that easy, but if you’re a skating first timer, don’t be scared. You may not be winning the next Dancing on Ice, but it’s really easy to learn the ice-skating basics.
Here at Skate Manchester, we welcome first-time skaters. We know it can be a bit nerve-wracking at first, but our friendly staff will help with your skates, and we have marshals on the ice who help keep things moving and keep an extra eye out for our first-time skaters. But it’s always good to be prepared! So, before you get here, here’s a few pointers to get you started:
You will need to wear clothes you can move easily in. Our outdoor rink has a roof, but you will still be outside in wintertime, so think jackets and long-sleeved tops. You will warm up as you get moving so layers are ideal. Gloves are really useful, they keep your hands warm and, if you fall, they give you traction on the ice to help you get up. Bring extra socks in case your feet get wet and cold – this is also helpful if you’re between shoe sizes to ensure a great fit.
Once you’ve got your skates on, make your way to the rink. The first thing you want to do is step gently onto the ice holding onto the side.
Stand with your feet apart, your legs a little bent and your arms just out at your side. Lean forward slightly. If you lean back, you are more likely to slip and fall. This positioning will help you keep your centre of gravity and move easily.
As tempting as it’s going to be to stare at your feet as you start to move, try and keep your head up and look towards where you are heading. You are much less likely to fall (or bump into someone else!) if you’re looking where you’re going.
One of the easiest ways to start is to do little marching steps. Do a few small marching steps then as you put both feet down, you’ll feel the momentum as you glide forwards. As you get more confident you can turn the marching steps into more of a glide and you’ll start to get a feel for how you move on the ice. You may find that you’re more comfortable pushing off on one foot than the other, this is quite normal. As you grow in confidence, you’ll find you become more able to use both feet. But you’re moving, in fact, you’re already skating!
Ok, this is an important one! At first, you’ll probably try skating to the side and holding on for dear life to the rails! This is ok, but if you’ve got up some speed you may find your feet go out from under you and you are left hanging. Not the best look! Instead try pushing your feet slightly apart and turning one skate out sideways. You’ll hear the swoosh as the blade slows you.
We all dread it, no one wants to do it, but here’s the thing: it happens to everyone! If you feel like you’re going to fall, try bending your knees further and going into a crouching position. This may prevent a fall, or at the very least it will stop you from falling as far. When you fall, try and pull your hands into your lap as you go down. Once you’ve hit the ice you can then roll yourself onto your knees, put your hands out (here’s where the gloves come in handy) and pull yourself onto all fours. From here you can get back into a crouching and then standing position.
So, there you are. Some simple pointers to get you started on the ice. Before you know it, you will be whizzing round the rink (maybe not pirouetting yet, but who knows!) We hope you’re excited to take to the ice at Skate Manchester. Skating really is magical, particularly on an outdoor rink, there’s something incredibly special about ice skating in winter. We hope you love it as much as we do.