Whether you dream of becoming the next hockey superstar like Wayne Gretsky or want to achieve the grace and style of Nancy Kerrigan, ice skating is fun to learn once you have the basics down.
All it takes is the desire ...and a good pair of skates!
1. Buy a good pair of ice skates
Why? The rental skates you find at the local ice rink have been used dozens of times or have been poorly maintained. As a result, they often have dull blades and weak ankle support, two necessities for maintaining good balance.
If at all possible, save up to buy a pair of good quality ice skates and take care of them. Even for casual skaters who visit the rink only a few times per season, a good pair of ice skates can make a world of difference to becoming an accomplished skater or simply enjoying your time on the ice.
2. Find an ice skating buddy
Preferably a friend will have had some experience and can help you relax and provide moral support. They can also assist in getting you to your feet after the inevitable spills and falls your first time out.
3. Get accustomed to your skates
You have to walk before you can run, so its highly recommended that you do just that. Take small steps out on to the ice to warm up, and resist the urge to hold on to the railing. Apply gentle pressure to practice balancing on your right foot. Now practice balancing on your left foot. Relax. You're almost there.
4. How to keep your balance
Remember that upper body strength is one of the main tricks to keeping a firm footing. If your arms and shoulders are flailing around you're going to lose your balance.
Extend your arms for balance, and resist the urge to push off with your blade tips. Instead, push forward with the sides of your blades. First the right, then the left. Keep your knees slightly bent and look straight ahead.
Suddenly, you're ice skating.
5. How to come to a full stop
To stop, slowly drag the toe of your skate behind you until you come to a full stop. Note that pressure will be put on one foot only as you come to a halt. Master the technique by practicing how to steady yourself on one foot (see Step 3).
6. How to fall
Just as crucial as maintaining balance is learning how to fall. If you feel you are going to fall: try to remember to bend your knees and lean forward instead of back (to keep you from thumping the back of your head on the ice). IMPORTANT: after a fall, be sure to keep your hands off the ice and close to your body to prevent other ice skaters from running over them.
7. How to pick yourself up after a fall
Following a fall, getting up by yourself is a relatively easy technique.
Simply get on your knees and place one foot on the ice. Now place both hands on your knee, and push up. The maneuver will help both legs achieve a vertical position as your feet become planted firmly on the ice again.
8. Tips & tricks for improving your ice skating technique
As your confidence grows try taking longer strides, then try gliding as you push off from the sides of your skates.
To increase your speed, extend your toe and give your ankle an extra flick backwards at the end of each stroke.
Avoid "toe picking", a common mistake by ice skating newbies which often causes trips and falls. Practice putting your blade down flat on the ice so the toe pick isn't going down first.
By all means try to take advantage of lessons provided by local ice skating rinks to help speed the process and improve your technique.