Editor’s note: Cecily Morrow, accomplished professional ice skater and expert instructor, offers the first of her guest posts regarding safe and healthy ice skating. Cecily and I share a love of sport and a desire to teach it in a way that inspires healthy competition and lifelong participation. (Find more about Cecily and her instructional techniques at the end of the post.)
Ice skating, so inspiring to watch, is a healthy activity that can be enjoyed by almost everyone. It’s fun to glide on a smooth surface feeling the wind of speed on your face. Skating, whether it be hockey, figure skating, or an outing with friends to a local rink, provides a full body strengthening and aerobic workout at almost every level.
But, as in any sport, fundamental techniques and knowledge of equipment make the experience more pleasurable and are essential to learning safe and efficient skating. Skating on ice, balanced atop knife edges, requires learned skill and control of the whole body. I recommend that all beginners take private lessons, if at all possible, before joining a group lesson or going out onto the ice on your own. Find the highest level coach you can for the safest pursuit of this sport. If your children are very young, you could take a lesson as a family with an accredited teacher.
Group lessons are fun for the social aspects, learning basics, and can introduce you to group skating programs of interest. Even if enrolled in a group lesson program, I recommend continuing private lessons in addition, as skating is a sport where learning the next skill presents a new level of difficulty. This happens most safely under a teacher’s watchful eye.
It is best for all beginning skaters, but especially little children, to learn on figure skates rather than hockey skates. The shorter blade on a hockey skate, tends to have more of a “rock” due to the curvature of the blade. To very little skaters trying to learn on hockey skates, this may feel like trying to balance on a ball.
When you skate you want to feel that the boot is part of your foot. In order to gain control over your skate, wear thin socks or tights. Thick socks or two pairs of socks may allow your foot to slip around in the boot. Or they may bunch up in ridges, causing pain, blisters or result in cold feet. For all of these reasons, be sure to pull your socks or tights up when putting your foot into the skate so there aren’t any wrinkles which can rub between the foot and the boot.
Skating looks so fluid — the expert skater gliding along — that people may not be aware of how the little things, like the way your skates fit, can make a big difference in whether you enjoy and become skilled at it or not.
Skates should be laced tightly through the foot and ankle for maximum support of the feet, legs, and body so that you can control the boot and blade. Poorly laced skates can result in a fall or sore ankles or knees.
I do not recommend learning to skate with an object to lean on or push around, even for hockey, because that could create bad habits if the skater decides to pursue skating competitively later. Leaning on objects will misalign the skater’s stance over the blade.
Skating can be dangerous if you or your children just go out and rent skates and expect to be able to glide away. Follow safety instructions and the advice I have offered and you will leave the ice with better posture, more confidence and a smile on your face, ready to take on anything. Enjoy!
CECILY MORROW is a highly sought-after ice skating instructor, having trained and worked extensively with famed Olympic coach, Gustave Lussi for 24 years. As a skater, Morrow was recognized for her elegant stroking, edge work, and style and became a founding member and principal performer of the Ice Theatre of New York. As an instructor, she is recognized for her expert teaching of the Lussi jumping and spinning technique and currently teaches in the United States and Canada. Find her website at Icecommand.com.
Morrow has been singularly recognized and authorized by Gustave Lussi, to present his techniques, step-by-step, on the instructional video series: SYSTEMATIC FIGURE SKATING: The Spin and Jump Techniques of Gustave Lussi which she produced with the help of Dick Button and Doug Wilson of ABC Sports. Find videos here.