Is ice skating hard? Ice skating can be relatively hard to learn as a newbie. First, ice skating uses ice skates with a shorter blade base, which offers little stability. Second, ice skates have no in-built braking system, meaning newbie skaters have to learn other braking systems to know how to stop or slow down. Lastly, the skating surface can be slick, thereby reducing stability.
Nonetheless, like any other sport discipline, with time, one can learn ice skating. You only need to show commitment, practice more, and have a passion for ice skating. That being said, I’ve put together this guide to help you get started in ice skating and figure skating.
So, without much ado, let’s get to it!
Why Ice Skating is Relatively Hard
Ice skating is relatively hard because of the nature of ice skates and the icy skating surfaces, which can be slick many times. These two reasons can steepen the ice skating or figure skating learning curve. However, with adequate time investment, figure skating becomes easy to learn.
Below we’ll look in detail at why ice skating can be comparatively hard to learn.
Ice Skating Posture and Stability
The correct ice skating posture requires staying low with knees above your toes and shoulders over your hips. This posture helps to correctly distribute your body weight to the toe balls, thereby preventing unnecessary backward or forward falls.
However, before gaining the balance, it can be a real hassle because of the nature of ice skates. Most ice skates have a shorter blade base running from the toe back to the heels. This significantly affects stability because you have to balance your body on the short blade base.
Therefore, when starting, you’ll fall several times before getting the hang of it. However, you don’t need to stress over it because you can learn this in one session of figure skating.
Stopping on Ice Skates
Stopping or slowing down on ice skates can be a hurdle since the skates don’t have an inbuilt braking system. Beginner skaters need a simple stopping or braking mechanism like the heel brake, which, unfortunately, figure skating doesn’t offer.
Instead, if you want to stop or slow down, you have to learn other stopping techniques. This may appear like a lot to take in for a newbie, considering you also need to learn the basics like the push, glide, and regrouping techniques.
Fortunately, there are some relatively easy to learn and apply stopping techniques that you can apply. An example includes the snowplow-stopping technique. However, you first need to learn your balance on ice skates before trying this technique.
Here’s a comprehensive article I did illustrating the different types of stops like the snowplow stopping technique.
Slick Ice Skating Surface
First, you can skate indoors at a rink or outdoors on natural ice or at a rink. Sadly, icy surfaces can be slick, thereby affecting your stability.
This, together with the shorter blade base, can make ice skating hard to learn in the beginning. However, as time goes by and you practice more, it ceases to be a problem.
How to Ice Skate for the First Time
If you’re second-guessing whether to try ice skating or not, my advice would be to go for it. Like all sports or learning a new skill, it can be hard in the beginning. Nonetheless, in a little while, you’ll get the hang of it and will become a pro.
So, this is how to ice skate for the first time:
1. Get the Right Gear for Ice Skating Gear
The right gear for ice skating starts with the correct ice skates. The skates should be comfortable on your feet and correctly fitting. Over-sized skates can cause wobbling ad pronation, thereby affecting the quality of your skating.
You don’t want to pick the bad habits at this stage because it can be frustrating correcting them along the way. However, choosing the right skates will go a long way. Next, you want to ensure you’re putting on the proper clothing.
Icy surfaces mean lower temperatures. Therefore, you should keep warm all the time. Nonetheless, you want to avoid heavy clothing because it can drag you. Instead, light clothing like leggings, fitted tops, leotards, or tights can be helpful.
Also, it would help if you protect yourself by putting on ice skating protective gear like helmets, knee pads, wrist guards, and elbow pads. In case of an expected fall, this protective gear should protect you from injuries.
2. Learn the Basic Ice Skating Techniques
The basic ice skating techniques include proper posture, gliding, pushing, stopping, safe falling, stroking, and swizzling.
- Proper Posture: The proper posture entails staying low with bent knees above the toes and shoulders over the hips.
- Gliding and Pushing: These two go hand in hand and come in handy when making your first steps. You push your way through the ice using one foot while gliding using the other foot when ice skating.
- Stopping: A simple stopping technique for ice skating is the snowplow. After some time, you can try out more sophisticated stopping techniques like t-stop.
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- Safe Falling: Falling is inevitable in ice skating and skating in general. Therefore, even experienced skaters fall occasionally. However, you can minimize the risk of injury by using the right technique to fall. One, fall forward and on your knees first, then lay prostrate on the ground. Second, if you fall on your back, avoid using your hands to land the ground.
- Swizzling: Doing swizzles is one cool way of ice skating without lifting your feet off the ice. But first, you should master stability and the push and glide technique because swizzles are kind of advanced. To perform swizzles, be in the ready position (feet relatively close apart), then slide them apart to make an outward curve before bringing them back in. Repeat this several times to until you’re good at it.
3. Try Cross-training Programs like Rollerblading
Cross-training exercises like rollerblading are helpful and come in handy to flatten your learning curve. The two sports are related and share many techniques like skating posture, stopping, gliding, pushing, and how to fall safely.
Therefore, when you’re not ice skating, you can visit your nearest rollerblading rink and try rollerblading for a few hours. The best part is, you can sharpen your skill while rollerblading by practicing what you’ve learned on ice skating.
The more you do it, the better you become, and the sooner you can be the pro like everyone else. So, cross-training helps along way. So, if it’s something you’re contemplating, I will urge you to go for it.
4. Practice More Often
Practicing more often is the only way to move the needle, especially when getting into ice skating. It works the same for other disciplines of life, so there’s no way it shouldn’t work for ice skating. However, practicing more often gets your body and muscles oriented into ice skating.
For example, muscle memory will help you remember ice skating drills like the correct posture, stopping techniques, gliding and pushing techniques, and other ice skating tricks. Nonetheless, you want to avoid the urge to overdo it.
Sometimes quantity doesn’t equate to quality. Therefore, instead, you want to focus more on quality than quantity. However, it goes a long way because over skating, in the beginning, can also cause pain around the shins, feet, and ankles.
5. Be Patient with Yourself
Like we’ve already seen, good things take time, and figure skating is not different. At least it would help if you prepared psychologically for this before getting your expectations crushed. On average, it’ll take between two and four weeks to master the basic ice skating techniques.
However, this only happens when you put in a lot of effort in practice. If you practice less frequently, the learning curve can be steep, and you can take as long as 8-10 months to learn. Whatever the case, the goal is to learn ice skating, so I’d advise you to take it one step at a time.
6. Signup for Figure Skating Lessons
Sometimes learning everything on your own can lead to taking longer than necessary to learn the basics. Signing up for figure skating lessons can be an excellent idea for flattening the learning curve and doing other intermediate and tricks.
So, if you have a budget for this, you can sign up for classes and get trained by professionals. The best part is, you can have both online and offline classes today. So, you have the freedom to go for what works for you.
Is Ice Skating Hard? Wrapping Up
Is ice skating hard? Like other sport disciplines or skills, learning ice skating can be relatively hard in the beginning. However, with practice and commitment, you should be able to break through the ice and become better at it. I hope you found this guide helpful!
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