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2.1 First time out


This article is from the Recreational Figure Skating FAQ, by Karen Bryden with numerous contributions by others.

2.1 First time out

1. Don't wear multiple or thick socks, and don't tuck your pants into
your boot tops. It won't help you stay warm and you don't want any
compressible padding between the boot and your foot, since in the
extreme, this makes the fit sloppy.

2. Don't chew gum, carry knives or key rings in your pockets etc.
while skating.

3. Get skates that are at least as small as your shoe size, and if you
have to take a pair a half-size off, go smaller.

4. Lace your skates up all the way, and snugly. If your toes go numb
within a few minutes, you've laced them too tightly. If, when you
stand up on dry land, your ankles flop to the inside, you haven't
laced them tightly enough (or else the skates are too big, or possibly
are just worn out). Don't let your laces flop around loosely. If there
is extra lace, do something such as double knotting them to keep them
from tripping you!

5. Wear gloves. They protect your hands in falls

6. Don't use your toe-picks to stop or start. In fact, try to keep off
of your toe-picks.

7. Start out by just "marching" on the ice,lifting your knees and
putting your feet back down flat in the same place. Do not try to step
ahead heel and toe as if you were walking on land.

8. Stand up straight (don't bend forward, it will make you fall
forward), and hold your hands/arms out slightly to your sides. (Don't
feel silly .... look around ... everyone else has their arms out).
Your body will THINK that it's safer with you hunched over ... because
you are closer to the ground, but believe me, it's a lot safer to be
standing up straight.

9. Bend your knees. All the time. Maybe "bend your knees" doesn't
convey all it should. Try this. Stand on dry land in shoes. Bend your
knees AND ankles,


so you look like this from the side. Your feet are FLAT on the ground.
Your weight is behind the ball of your foot. In fact, the flex of your
foot should put pressure backward from the ball of your foot. Your
hips are directly over your heels. Your back is upright. You are
looking straight ahead (not down). Bounce a bit up and down in this
position. Your knees and ankles will bend more, and your hips and
upper body rise and fall, but your hips are ALWAYS right above your
heels, and your back and head are always upright. And your feet remain
flat on the ground, with the weight no farther forward than the balls
of your feet, and probably more nearly under your arch. If you ski,
you should be familiar with this "sitting" position.

10. Think about how you walk, stand, stand on one foot, etc. You can't
stand on one foot if you don't center your weight over that foot.
Exactly the same thing applies to skating.

11. Skate WITH traffic. Don't go into the center of the rink where
there are people practicing jumps, spins, and footwork. They are
staying out of your way. You stay out of theirs. Don't stand around
next to the boards or in the middle of traffic. Don't hook up with
more than one other person.

12. Watch where you are going. If you get brave enough to go
backwards, look BEHIND you to see where you are going. Watch where
other people are going, and try to get a sense of where they WILL BE.

13. Experiment with your arms. Glide forward on 2 feet, with your arms
out to your sides. Turn your shoulders/arms to the left and notice
that you turn to the left without doing anything at all with your
feet. This is an illustration of the degree to which the upper body
controls what happens with your feet.

14. Remember that everything in skating (well, almost) is done on a
curve. If you are trying to turn around, do it on a curve, not in a
straight line, and it will be much easier.

15. Ask for help. Most people will be happy to provide it. You can get
some really good advice sometimes from kids who are flattered to be
asked. While you are watching the explanation, stand with your skates
in a T shape, not parallel. They're less likely to slip out from under
you this way.

16. When you fall, roll over onto your side, get onto your knees, then
bring one leg up so that one skate is on the ice. Help yourself up
with your hands, and stand up on the skate that's on the ice. Don't
try to stand up with both blades touching the ice. They'll just slide
out from under you. Don't stay down on the ice. It's not safe for you
or anyone else. Exception: If you fall really hard, and really hurt,
stay put for a minute to let the shock wash over you before you get
up. Then skate to the side and get off the ice for a few minutes.


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previous page: 2. Basic Skating
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next page: 2.2 Falling and protective equipment