New to Skating

There is a resource for parents on the U.S. Figure Skating website.

Lessons
Most skaters start by taking group lessons, and the Basic Skills Program developed by U.S. Figure Skating is an option if it is offered in your area.  After taking group lessons for a while, you may decide to take private lessons with a professional ice skating coach.  Choosing a coach is an individual decision, but you can ask other skaters what it is like to have a lesson with their coach. Different coaches have different teaching styles and charge different amounts for the lesson.  Some coaches will 
coach for varied amounts of time (15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 1 hour), depending on your needs and goals.  Let a coach know if you just want to learn to skate for fun, if you want to test, or if you have Olympic dreams.

Ice Skates (Boots & Blades)
It is not always necessary to buy new skates.  Used skates can be a great bargain if you know what to look for.  Some rinks and/or skating clubs hold periodic skate re-sales; you can also look HERE.  If you’re unsure as to the condition of a pair of skates, ask your skating instructor for tips.

When purchasing used equipment, look for clean, firm leather boots, fully lined.  Look at the soles to see that they are not rotted.  Check the blades for deep nicks and scratches and make sure they still have enough room for future sharpening.

If you decide to buy brand new skates, ask your instructor for the names of skate manufacturers and for locations where they can be purchased.  Some skate shops carry beginning skates or they can order them directly from the manufacturer.  Most manufacturers produce a beginning boot that comes with a beginning blade.  As you become more advanced, you may wish to check out specialty blades that can be mounted on specialty boots.  But when you’re just starting out, that is not necessary. 

If you choose not to invest in your own skates, rental skates will do just fine.  When renting skates, ask for a pair with firm boots and sharp blades.

Proper Boot Fitting
It is best to wear tights or thin to medium-weight socks.  Heavy-weight socks or more than one pair of socks can be a problem.  If you are buying skates, it is better not to do it on a hot day (or late in the day), when your feet may have swollen.  Loosen the lace of the boot and pull the tongue out as much as possible, to give you room to put your foot into the boot.  Your toes should be comfortably at the end of the boot, but not so close that your toes are cramped or curled.  Your heel should fit snugly into the heel of the boot, and when the boot is laced, your heel should not pull out of the heel of the boot.  If the boot is fitted correctly, you should have what is called a “wide lace pattern,” which means there is a good amount of room between the two sides of the boot (this helps to support your foot).  If there is too much room, then you would be able to see the edges of the boot tongue.  It can be very helpful for your skating instructor to be present when you are being fitted for boots, though this is not always possible. 
 
Care of Your Boots after Skating
You need to have some kind of towel or cloth to clean and dry your boot blades and the underside of your boots.  Do not leave your blades with the cover on them (either terry cloth or plastic), as this can cause your blades to rust.  When you get home, take your boots out of your carry bag and open the tongue of the boot up, and let the inside of the boots air out and dry.  Also, continue to let your blades dry at this time.  It is not a good idea to leave your boots in your car, especially during the summer.

Clothes for Skating
Wear comfortable clothes, preferably not jeans (which tend to be tight); athletic pants can be good, or ski pants.  You may want to wear layers, as your body will heat up with vigorous skating.  Wear gloves, not only to keep your hands warm, but to protect them if you should fall on the ice.  Wearing a helmet is another option, if that makes you feel more comfortable on the ice.

Right of Way on a Public Skating Session
Most public skating sessions are skated in a counter-clockwise direction.  Often after an ice cut, it may be announced that 
everyone is to skate the opposite (clockwise) direction.  Always skate in the direction that everyone else is skating in.  Unless you are experienced enough to do jumps and spins, stay out of the center area of the ice.  Also, you should 
not cut across the ice (from one side to the other), but stay a few feet from the side of the ice rink and progress around the edge of the rink.  The more experienced skaters will tend to skate more towards the center of the ice.

Right of Way on a Club Session
Figure skating clubs often purchase private ice time for their club members.  Skaters may be having private lessons on a club session, and you should always stay out of the way of someone on a lesson.  Also, during a club session, a skater may have their music played for them to practice to it for a competition or test; please stay out of the way of this skater.  If you see someone setting up to do a jump, again, get out of the way, usually to the edge of the rink.  Experienced skaters need to be aware of less experienced skaters, and do their best not to intimidate a new skater by skating too close to them.  It is common courtesy to follow these guidelines, and it will keep you safer during a club session, and yet still allow you to be able to practice your own moves. 

(Some of the information on this page is excerpted from U.S. Figure Skating, Basic Skills Program, Record Book)

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