How to learn to ice skate

Dress comfortably for ice skating. Outdoors wear a hat, sweater, jacket, slacks, long underwear, and gloves. In an indoor rink you won’t need long underwear. Remove jewelry for safety.

It’s advisable for a beginner to rent skates (most ice rinks have rentals). Figure skates, which have two blade edges, are the best for learning. The boot should fit snugly and hug the heel but have enough room to accommodate a pair of wool socks. With the laces snug, you should still be able to insert two fingers into the boot top on one side. Tie the laces with a double knot and tuck the ends into the boot.

Choose a time when the ice is uncrowded. Walk around a little with guards on the skate blades. When you are ready, remove the guards and carefully step onto the ice. Grasp the barrier and pull yourself away from the entrance. Stand motionless for a moment. Keep your body straight, head up, and knees slightly bent, with feet a few inches apart. Arms should be relaxed, held out to the sides waist high for balance. Feel the inside and outside blade edges grip the ice.

At first, try walking on your skates with short steps. Your ankles will wobble and you will have trouble balancing, but this will soon pass.

Now try the movements that will propel you forward. Place your feet in a T position, the right behind the left at a 90 degree angle. Using the full length of the inside edge of the right blade, push forward. At the same time, shift all your weight onto the left foot and glide, keeping your shoulders pointed in the direction of your movement and your left knee slightly bent. Now bring your right foot forward, parallel with your left, and glide on both blades. Practice pushing off several times, starting first with one foot, then the other.

To sustain the forward movement, push off from one foot and then the other, almost as you did in the starting position, but with the thrusting foot angled more to the side. With each stroke, glide as far as you can before pushing off again.

As you approach a corner, turn your body gradually and lean into the curve. Your skates will follow.

As a beginner, you will find the easiest way to stop is by forcing both heels outward and bringing the knees together-called a snowplow. Eventually, you should learn the T stop, in which you place the free foot at a 90 degree angle to the other and gradually lower the blade onto the ice.

Don’t be afraid of falling. Learn to do it correctly. Keep your hands up as you start to slip, bend your knees, and sit down! To get up, roll over into a kneeling position. Put your hands down flat on the ice, bring one foot forward with the knee about level with your chin, then bring the other foot forward. Stretch your hands out in front of you and stand up.

Caution: A pond or lake should have at least 4 inches of clear blue ice; twice that if the ice is cloudy. Check for cracks, weak spots, and broken areas. Don’t skate alone.