This beautiful frosty weather is making me long to ice skate again. I’m always envious of the skating lakes in Sweden and Austria and hope I get to skate on natural ice one day. We don’t even have an artificial ice rink close to us so we only really skate at Christmas when lots of rinks spring up everywhere.
Ice skating is a wonderful way to spend time together that can help keep kids active and teach them an important lifelong skill. It would be amazing to ice skate at any time of year and this really is possible and affordable with a little planning. Shop around when planning your next family trip to discover some great budget options for an amazing winter holiday. Once there, you will also need to help your child (and possibly yourself) learn to ice skate safely. See our tips below on how you can do this successfully:
1) Appropriate Dress Code
Before an ice skating outing, ensure your kids are dressed for success; tall socks, gloves, layers of warm clothes, and a jacket. Snow pants aren’t necessary – in fact, their slick material makes it more difficult to get up after falling. Figure or hockey skates are just fine. Avoid double runners; they lack edges and also slip and slide a lot. Always have your kid with you when purchasing skates so that he or she can try them on. Lastly, ensure that blades are well sharpened.
2) Practice Off The Rink First
The part I find most difficult is getting used to wearing the skates. Before your child can get on the rink, help him or her do some practice with the skates on. Then, once your child has horned some skills, go to the rink together. The standing practice comes first, then little steps like lifting one foot and then the other. This helps children to have a feel for the blade on the ice. Teach them to shift weight from one foot to another and help them learn by walking around and practising falling. When a person falls down, they should get up again by first getting in a crawl position. After that practice the “safe position” which is useful when a person feels like they’re going to fall. You can do this by bending knees and then putting hands on them to boost stability.
3) Practice In-Line Skating
As a child of the 80s I mainly roller skated on quads. I didn’t get a pair of rollerblades until the 90s when regretfully I somehow skated less (something I am making up for now). Although they are different sports, inline skating uses most of the same muscles as ice skating. Therefore, it’s a good idea to invest in a pair of Inline skates to help improve your muscles, balance and confidence before you get on the ice. Inline skating is a fun and easily accessible hobby to get into.
4) Building Up Speed
Once your child has roped in the small steps, teach them to build on that and increase speed on skates. With hands out in front, teach him or her to push down as if on a table to help to keep balance and gain confidence to start gliding with both blades on the ice. With knees bent and feet close together, have your kid bring one of the skates behind while at the same time pushing off with the inside edge of the blade.
5) Practising To Stop
Have your child stand and with the feet close together push out the inside edge of each of the blades so as to get a feeling of shaving the ice. Then practice stopping by doing a snow plough, bending the knees, bringing together the toes in an inverted V shape, and then pushing down with hands to maintain stability. Once the plough is done, with legs close together and knees bent, have your child shift weight onto one leg and let the other skate slide out. This way, they can learn to use movements and shifting of body weight to stop.
6) Finally, Check The Progress
As you move with your child from one skill to another, keep your feedback on the progress positive. Give lots of praise but also help to correct them so they learn to skate safely. Also, remember not to make the initial lessons too long. The time may vary depending on the age, it’s safest to keep it to around 25 minutes. When your children start complaining about being uncomfortable or too tired, keep that in mind. Remember to keep it fun!
I hope these tips help you to teach your child to skate. Remember to warm up with a hot drink after!
You can see how we got on ice skating and sledging in the following posts: