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2.2 Falling and protective equipment


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

2.2 Falling and protective equipment

The "bad falls" are often the ones that you are least prepared for,
while the falls resulting from various failed or incomplete moves are
usually fairly predictable and are softened to some degree as a
result. If you feel like you are going to fall, go ahead and do it.
Fighting it often makes the fall harder and more awkward. We all know
some of those falls are painful and others are very scary. However
after falling a few times, you will learn techniques for falling. The
basic principles are:

a) Keep your head up. If falling backwards tuck your chin into your
chest so you don't hit your head.
b) Get your arms out of the way so you won't land on them.
c) Try not to fall on your tailbone, knees or elbows. The best
"landing gear" are the muscle masses of the thigh/hips and

Beginners should wear helmets, and experienced skaters wear protective
gear (mostly knee pads) when learning a new jump. If you wear
eyeglasses, use a retainer or "croakie". Ski or sporting goods stores
usually have an assortment.

It is extremely important for you to understand that you can fall and
not hurt yourself. When you realize that you are losing your balance
"get down" and then roll off to either side. You want to avoid going
over forward, since your toe picks will catch. Bend those knees and
get your body mass as close to the ice as you can so you don't have
much further to "fall".

Better still, practice falling. It is a skill like any other in
skating and it needs practice.

When you do hit, you want to translate the force of hitting the ice
from a direct impact to a sliding or rolling movement. It is
conventional wisdom to take the brunt of a backwards fall with one of
the cheeks of your butt. Roll the fall if you can to spread the
impact. Slow down a forwards fall with your outstretched arms, and
absorb the fall with your chest (and don't hit your knees or your
chin). Remember that wrists are fragile -- it's better to land on the
muscle mass of the upper arm and shoulder. If you are worried about
hurting your wrists, wearing wrist guards will provide adequate

The fear/timidity factor is often what holds a skater at a given level
of performance. They may learn a move on ice/floor, but lack the
confidence to balance on one foot, required for any real skating. They
can get stuck with trying to skate backwards, which prevents getting
past turns. They may manage a mohawk, but after a few thumps find a
3-turn daunting.

The view is widely held that if you don't fall during a practice
session, you are skating too defensively and thus are not pushing
yourself hard enough to make real progress. Many skaters will tell you
they don't feel "loose" until they have fallen once to get rid of the

If you do fall...

1) Don't worry if you're still afraid the first few times out. As long
as you keep getting back out there, eventually you *will* get over it.
2) Try wearing hip, knee and butt pads. Even if you don't fall it will
give you a sense of security.
3) Never, repeat never, skate with your hands in your pockets!
4) Think about why you fell and what you can do to prevent it from
happening again.
5) Take it easy the first couple times back out on the ice. No need to
rush back into doing dangerous things. Do it when you feel you're


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