How to Skate – from an Amateur Figure Skater
By Olivia Neuner
Volume 1 Issue 6
March 18, 2021
Image provided by NYC Parks
Hello everyone! My name is Olivia, and I have been taking Figure Skating lessons for about 5 months. I started in November of 2020; I always thought it sounded fun, and with all school activities cancelled at the time, I “figured” it would be nice to try something new. I’m so glad about my decision and I am now planning on joining a skating team in college (It’s a really popular thing at all the up-north schools I applied to like UVM, UNH, UMaine. Today I would like to share my love for this sport and teach you the most basic skill needed to skate: how to not fall over. I’ve taken many friends with me to free skate over the last few months, and I’ve seen many falls, trips, and more, and have learned from both my lessons and observations the quickest way to get that first start. Tighten up those skates (You shouldn’t be able to lift your ankle in the skates, but you also should still have the circulation going) and let’s glide!
The wall is your friend (but more like one that cheers you on from the sidelines) – One of the most common things I see at my weekly free skate is people clinging to the wall for dear life. Most commonly it’s because they feel terrified of falling over. DON’T DO THIS. When you rely so heavily on the wall, it will be even harder to get off than had you not used it at all. My suggestion is to start out near the wall. If you really need the stability, you can tap the wall with your right hand, or gently hold the hand of a more experienced friend (don’t lean on them too much, or you’ll both take a tumble).
Glide, don’t “walk”- A common mistake for first timers is to try to walk across the ice - this will result in a fall quite quickly. As stated in #1, stay close to the wall, and try to start a simple glide (if you have ever been on an elliptical, it’s a similar motion). It’s hard to describe, but you’ll know it once you do it. Make sure to lift your opposing foot to prepare for the other to land (ex. When you are gliding on your right foot, lift the left foot forward, in front of your right, to keep up your speed). The lift doesn’t have to be high; even an inch should suffice. Just make sure it’s off the ice.
Use your knees - When you feel like you are losing your balance, slightly bend down and put both hands on your kneecaps. This will keep you from taking a flailing tumble. Having your knees loose and slightly bent while skating will also make it easier to glide: a stiff body is more likely to lose balance.
If you have to fall, just let yourself - Flailing your arms around is not going to help you here; in fact, it will make you less stable than when you first lost your balance. If you feel yourself falling backwards, follow #3 and put your hands on your knees. If you are suddenly falling forward, this doesn’t always work. Here, I would suggest just letting the fall happen. Make sure to distribute your weight so you don’t damage a specific part of your body; I usually try to fall on my side with that same arm out (Let it be noted to avoid putting any weight on the wrist or ankle as you risk serious damage). This should result in a gentle slide rather than a slam and shouldn’t leave any side effects except for slight embarrassment.
The next time you go skating, hopefully these tips will have you gliding in no time!