Secrets to a Successful First Lesson From Your Coach...
You can't skate without skates! I require beginner skaters to wear figure skates. Only advanced hockey skaters may wear hockey skates. Double runner skates are not permitted, any skate with a hockey-style blade, and adjustable "grow with me skates" are not permitted for lessons.
Figure skates are different than hockey skates in that the blade has less of a rocker and a toe pick. You may rent these from the arena to begin your skating journey.
Skates are the most important piece of equipment that a skater will use. So, skates need to fit properly and support your ankles.
Incorrectly sized and fit ice skate boots can cause foot discomfort, affect skater performance, cause premature skate breakdown, and lead to injury. So, it is essential that your skates fit properly, whether you own them or rent them!
Your blades need to be sharpened, on average, after every 20-40 hours of ice time. The specific depth of hollow will vary depending on the skater. I have my skates sharpened by Greg at Polar Skate Shop and highly recommend him.
Boots and blades every skaters most important equipment. I highly recommend that all skaters have their own pair of skates.
The advantage to owning your skates rather than renting, is that you have control of the blade sharpening, boot and lace condition. You will also experience consistency from session to session.You can even customize the blade setting, depth of hollow, as well as mold the boots for a perfect fit!
Inexpensive skates from a big box store or a “great deal from a yard sale," are often not the value you think they are.
Specifically, I do not recommend that my skaters wear "adjustable" or "grow with me" skates. The reason for this is that the blade is always the same size and this is not appropriate for learning to skate. My personal experience is that skaters that wear this kind of skate will struggle. I have often taken them off the ice and asked parents to rent skates instead.
I also do not recommend hockey skates or any skate with a hockey-style blade to beginner skaters because the blade design makes it more challenging to learn how to skate.
Never go more than a half-size bigger than your skaters foot. They should be sized for today, not next year. Skaters trying to learn to skate with skates that are too large often struggle. When I've discovered this kind of issue, I have taken skaters off the ice and recommended that the parents rent skates to continue with the lesson.
Skates that are too loose can cause the ankles to “roll” and not create enough support for your foot. It can also lead to foot problems. So with that in mind please take special care when you lace and tie your skates:
The most common issue in lacing skates is to lace too loosely in the ankle area and too tightly at the top of the boot (last two hooks). This provides little support in the ankle area and undue pressure at the top when trying to bend at the ankle.
PRO TIP: Snug at the toe area; tight through the arch and ankle; and snug at the top.
U.S. Figure Skating strongly recommends the use of helmets for beginner skaters of all ages and I require all my beginning skaters to wear a helmet.
To select the helmet that best suites your needs, please consider the following information:
Which helmets work for ice skating?
A hockey, skateboard or ski helmet (multi-sport) will be suitable for using during beginning ice skating lessons. These helmets are designed to withstand more than one moderate impact, but protection is provided for only a limited number of impacts. They should be replaced if visibly damaged. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance on when the helmet should be replaced.
In addition to wearing a helmet, there are other safety precautions you can take when you are first learning how to skate:
Dress warmly, in layers, so that you can remove layers as you warm up. I suggest stretchy, straight leg or tapered pants (not boot cut, as they may get caught in the blade), a fleece jacket, and gloves (to keep your hands warm, but also protect them).
I do not recommend snow pants as they can be bulky, inhibit movement, as well as be difficult to get up from the ice in (they slide on the ice). As a coach, I look to see my skaters knee bend. Baggy or bulky pants limit my ability to see the skater's leg movements.
I prefer that skaters wear close fitting, pants with stretch that are tapered at the ankle.
Learn to Skate USA has put together this great video. Please take a few minutes to view it before your first lesson!
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