Passed Skate UK Level 6!

Those outside 3-turns were a nightmare but as the coach kept telling our group: “practise is key” and it really was!

Onwards and upwards to Skate UK Level 7, where our group will be attempting (and working towards mastering) backwards crossovers among other things.

Watch this space!

Twitter:@MusokeJane

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On course for success…

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Skate UK logo

Taking lessons?

Please tell us where you skate and which Skate UK Level you have achieved or are working towards.

A problem shared, is a problem halved…

Please share with us, the elements of skating you would really like to get to grips with. Whether you’re struggling with a forward ‘snowplough’ stop or those ‘forward crossovers’ at Skate UK Level 5, please share it.

I’ll be working on my outside 3-turns. Tips would be very welcome.

Inspirational Quote of The Month – December 2013

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“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors” –  African Proverb

In other words: when we fall down because we are experiencing difficulties, we should not just give up and stay down.

We should stand up again and learn the skills we need to succeed.

cropped-skate-uk-logo1.jpg

Happy Skating.

 

Motivational tips…

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Here are 5 motivational tips to help you stay on course to achieving Skate UK Level 10 stardom.

Finish Line

Picture: http://slowisthenewfast.com

1. Remember why you wanted to skate in the first place and create short-term goals.

Why give up at the first hurdle?

2. Group lessons are fantastic for sharing your ideas or concerns with fellow skaters.

DSCF1017

A problem shared is a problem halved.

3. For inspiration, watch some ‘theatre on ice’ produced by your local ice skating club.

Ally Pally Christmas show - 'Little Mermaid'

‘The Little Mermaid On Ice’ – Alexandra Palace Ice Rink, London.

Picture: Alexandra Palace’s Facebook page.

Just remember that they all started where you are now.

The figure skaters featured in the photograph above are members of Alexandra Palace Skating Academy, who are involved in producing the Christmas ice show at Alexandra Palace Ice rink.

They have achieved the minimum requirement of Skate UK Level 10.

4. Once you have achieved Skate UK Level 8, you can join a Synchronised Skating Club.

Team Phoenix

Lee Valley Synchronised Skating Club – Team Phoenix

Picture: Ice Skating Lessons by Chrissie Richards

Synchronised skating is especially popular with adult figure skaters. I shall discuss this skating discipline in greater detail in a future post.

There are a number of Synchronised Skating Clubs across the UK.

I have listed a few of them below:

  • Aberdeen Synchronised Skating Club, Scotland.

Website: Aberdeen Synchronised Skating Club

  • Altrincham Synchro Team, Altrincham, Greater Manchester.

Website: Altrinhcham Synchronised Skating Team

  • Basingstoke Synchronised Skating Club, Hampshire.

Website: Basingstoke Synchronised Skating Club

  • Lee Valley Synchronised Skating Club.

Website: Lee Valley Synchronised Skating Club

Team Orion

 Lee Valley Synchronised Skating Club – Team Orion

 Picture: Ice skating lessons by Chrissie Richards.

  • Slough Synchro Skating Club, Berkshire

Website: Slough Synchro Team

“Ice Hockey”

If you are a fan of hockey, then why not try ice hockey?

Haringey Racers

‘Haringey Racers’ Ice Hockey Team, practise at Alexandra Palace Ice Rink, Haringey, North London.

Picture: Haringey Racers Ice Hockey Team, Alexandra Palace, North London

The minimum requirement to join an ice hockey team is Skate UK Level 6.

There are a number of established ice hockey clubs in the UK. Again, I shall discuss this skating discipline in greater detail, in a future post.

I have listed a few Ice Hockey Clubs below:

  • Guildford Flames, Guildford Spectrum, Surrey.

Website: Guildford Flames Ice Hockey Team

  • Haringey Racers, Alexandra Palace Ice Rink, Haringey, North London.

     Website: Haringey Racers Ice Hockey Team

  • Nottingham Lions, Nottingham Ice Centre, Nottingham.

     Website:  Nottingham Lions Ice Hockey Team

  • Oxford City Stars, Oxford Ice Rink, Oxford.

Website: Oxford City Ice Hockey Team

  • Slough Jets, Slough Ice Rink, Berkshire.

Website: Slough Jets Ice Hockey Team

5. If you love travelling, then joining an ice skating club offers opportunities to break the ice, so to speak, by forging new friendships throughout the UK and abroad.

So don’t give up now, your adventures have just begun.

“Please share”

Whether you are a novice like me or you are a seasoned skater, I would love to hear  about what made you want to skate and what has kept you motivated.

Lesson 1 – What to expect…

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“Getting your skates on”

Skate hire at Riverside Ice Rink, Chelmsford, Essex

Skate hire – Riverside Ice Rink, Chelmsford, Essex, UK

Picture: www.lightmasters.co.uk

While your ice skates need to be securely fastened for safety reasons and to support your ankles, you need to ensure you can bend your knees. So avoid tying the laces too tightly.

As a rule of thumb: if you can’t bend your knees, the laces have been tied too tightly. You will be told to bend your knees throughout your skating career, so this will not be the last time you hear about knee bending

“On the ice”

Your coach will introduce him or herself to the group. You will typically step onto the rink with your group whilst hanging onto the barrier. This is just so you get used to the feeling of being on the ice.

You will probably feel like Bambi on ice but just remember even Torvill and Dean had to start somewhere.  I think it was Julie Andrews who said ‘the beginning is a very good place to start’ but I digress…

“Falling”

When I skated recreationally, I invested a lot of time worrying about falling. It was comforting to know that I was not alone. I soon realised that worrying was a fruitless exercise and that I would fall…probably sooner rather than later.

Once I had recovered from the shock of falling for the first time, it didn’t actually hurt too much after that. After all, I had a giant icepack at my disposal to numb the pain, though the pain was probably more embarrassment than anything else.

I feel it is worth bearing in mind that even the professionals fall, so it is no surprise that as beginners we are likely to fall too; though probably more often than we would like to.

Olympics Day 13 - Ladies Figure Skating

Professional Figure Skater,falls at the 2006 Olympics.

Photograph: Brian Bahr/Getty Images

 

“Good News”

Fortunately your coach will teach you how to fall. The idea is that if you practise falling in a controlled manner you can reduce the likelihood of injuring yourself during a real incident.

Once your coach is satisfied that your group is a little more comfortable with being on the ice, you will be encouraged to glide to the centre of the rink, where you will be asked to step around on the spot.

This will simply be to increase your confidence, since you will be away from the barrier. You will then be taught how to fall.

You can practise the following steps to reduce injury in anticipation of a fall:

  1. Glide forward on both feet, keeping your arms out to the side to maintain your balance.
  2. Squat into a dip position by bending your knees and placing your hands out in front of you.
  3. Gently fall to one side and ensure you land on your side with your right arms stretched out. This will reduce the chance of you sustaining a wrist injury.

Figure Skater falling deliberately

How to fall gracefully

Photograph: Associated Press

“Getting up”

You will need to get up quite quickly to avoid injuring yourself or others, by doing the following:

  1. Get on your knees and place both hands on the ice between your knees.
  2. Carefully lift one skate and dig the toe-pick into the ice. This will ‘anchor’ you into position so that you don’t keel over.
  3. Keeping your hands between your knees, slowly raise your body and place the other skate flat on the ice.
  4. Place your hands on your knees to maintain balance until you are full upright.

“Final few minutes”

During the last 10 minutes of the lesson, you will be encouraged to march across the ice, followed by a glide on two feet and a squat into a dip position.

Yes, you may feel as though you are out of your comfort zone (the barrier will certainly be out of reach) but you will have achieved Skate UK Level 1.

Skate UK certificate

Picture: National Ice Skating Association (NISA)

Please see my ‘Skate UK level skills’ tab for details of requirements to pass each level.

However, there is no room for complacency. Practise makes perfect.

One down, nine Skate UK levels to go.

Please feel free to share your experiences of your first ice skating lesson.

 

An inspiration…

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Gentleman figure skating at 80 years old

Gentleman figure skating at 80 years of age.

Photograph: The Nottingham Post Newspaper (Riah Matthews, Features Writer)

An article in The Nottingham Post, has truly inspired me.

If you still believe that age is a barrier to figure skating, then please click on the link to the article below:

Figure skating at 80 years of age.

I think this gentleman has dispelled any myths about age.

So, who inspired you to figure skate?

I look forward to hearing your stories.

No need to ‘dress to impress’

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We beginners must put our sartorial elegance on ice….so to speak, just until we have mastered the fancy footwork.

In the meantime, our focus is on comfort and wearing clothes that will not restrict our movement during skating lessons.

Ladies typically opt to wear leggings, simply because they are not too expensive and allow us to move freely and comfortably.

Leggings for training - www.planeticicle.com

Picture:www.planeticicle.com

Gents tend to wear tracksuits; again for comfort and ease of movement.

Tracksuit bottoms - www.richmondclassics.com

Picture:http://www.richmondclassics.com/

“Feel comfortable”

Believe it or not, some rinks can actually become quite warm.

So how do we get around this?

I suggest taking the ‘layered’ approach. Wear a vest, t-shirt, long sleeved top and a fleece jacket. This way if it becomes too hot, just shed a layer to feel more comfortable.

Conversely, if it becomes exceptionally cold, the multiple layers should shield you from the chill.

“Warm up”

It is worth remembering, that our muscles need to be warm for us to give our best performance. A brief warm up before you get on the ice, should reduce the likelihood of experiencing foot cramp.

Believe me, experiencing foot cramp is not ideal, especially if you happen to be in the middle of the rink.

“What about the skating boots?”

I would not advocate going out in a mad rush to buy skating boots, until after your fourth lesson. I shall discuss buying skates in greater detail in a future post.

In the meantime, you can hire a pair of skating boots at the rink at a reasonable price.

Please feel free to share your ideas/suggestions on how to keep warm or cool on the rink.

Group vs. Private skating lessons

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Decisions, decisions, decisions…

So you’ve decided to take lessons. The question most people ask is whether to go for group lessons or private lessons.

Only you can answer that question but as with most things in life, there are pros and cons to help you arrive at your decision.

GROUP  LESSONS – Pros GROUP  LESSONS – Cons
Recreational skating and making new friends whilst keeping fit. Sometimes ‘unhealthy’ competition within the group.
There is a ‘curriculum’ (Skate UK) which lends structure to group lessons and will allow you to track your progress. Not as much attention on your individual needs as a skater.
Relatively inexpensive
‘Taster’ courses –  is ice skating for you?  Gives you a focus as  to which discipline you may want to follow later on. e.g synchronised skating, pairs skating, speed skating.
PRIVATE LESSONS – Pros PRIVATE LESSONS – Cons
Thinking about competitive skating in the UK or abroad. Relatively expensive
Lessons are tailored to your needs. May judge yourself harshly when it comes to rate of progression, as   you wouldn’t have anybody at a similar level with whom you can share or exchange ideas/thoughts.
You can learn at your own pace.

Whatever you decide, make sure you bring your sense of humour with you to the rink. You can share your skating calamities with others so your progress will not be impeded due to generally feeling awkward.

We’ve all been there and some of us are still there.

So whether you are taking lessons (just like me) or you are a coach, please feel free to share your thoughts here.