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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…


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.