Ice skating can be a lot of fun and great exercise. Some children can learn as soon as they start to walk. In fact, it's easier to teach kids because they don't have the fear of never having learned to skate for years. That's not to say that adults can't learn! It takes practice and a willingness to get out there. Here are tips and tricks to get you and your child skating like a pro. Okay, well... at least they'll get you skating.
When you first start learning, you'll want to wear hockey skates. Figure skates have a special toe pick which makes it harder to skate. Also, at first, you'll probably be using rented skates from the rink. Ask them to sharpen them, as dull, nicked skates don't grip the ice properly and will make skating harder and falling easier. Long pants goes without saying. Wear warm, fitted clothing that won't get caught in your skates. Make sure you're wearing appropriate socks; microfiber or synthetic socks are best. Try to avoid cotton, which traps water and can cause blisters. And for children, helmets are a must. Also, if they're timid and would like knee pads, let them go for it, but you'll need to bring your own, as most places don't rent them.
Tips & Tricks
Try to walk. This may sound ridiculous, but learning to walk will help give your ankle support and help him get used to the friction of the ice. Your child will do better not holding onto anything. The wall can become a crutch. Instead, help your child hold his arms out at just below shoulder level to learn to balance himself. Tell him to bend his knees slightly and lean forward, not back. I've heard the term "assume the potty position." You know what that means. When you are skating, you are basically trying to find your center of gravity. Help your child lean on his weak foot, then push in a diagonal direction outwards with his strong foot as if he were shoveling snow behind and to the right of him. This will then propel him forward. Then bring the right foot back in next to the left and repeat the process. Keep this up, beginning to take longer strokes and trying to glide. A few tips for the parent skaters: If you try to give an extra flick of the toe/ankle at the end of each stroke, it will give you more power and make you a more efficient and faster skater. If you find yourself tripping as you skate, you are most likely "toe-picking." Make sure that when you put you blade down on the ice, it's level, and the toe pick isn't going down first. To stop, try a snowplow. This is when you point the toes of your ice skates together, causing yourself to slow down and eventually stop.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember before you set out to teach your child is that falling is an unavoidable part of learning how to ice skate and it is important not to be discouraged. Have you taken your child to a professional hockey game? If you have, then you've both seen even the professionals fall. Everyone falls, but they get right back up and keep going. And the more you get up, the better you get!
Skating can be great fun once you get the hang of it, but like any sport hydration is important. Bring some water, take breaks when you need it, and the most important part: get back out there!
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