A Division of Kinzie's Closet
Many people are under the impression that you learn how to figure skate so you can achieve the ultimate goal of going to the Olympics. While that might happen for a select few, it is really not the ultimate goal. There of lots of people who get together on a weekly basis in their backyard and play a game of basketball or football. Does it mean they strive to go the NBA or NFL? No...they just love the sport. The same can be said for figure skating.
Ever wanted to start Figure Skating but thought you were too old? Many people love to watch it on tv and often wonder if they could learn how to do those fabulous spins, intricate footwork and amazing jumps. The answer is yes!.... and you don't have to start at 3 years old. You can start at the age of 12 or 16 or even learn how to skate as an adult! Regardless of age, figure skating is a great sport.
Skating is wonderful exercise, it gives you self confidence, it allows you to set goals and achieve them and it enforces the importance of practice and determination. Anyone at any age can learn how to skate...there is no such thing as "too late to start skating" as long as you have passion and love for the sport.
So you've decided to learn how to figure skate....now what?
The first thing you do is find an ice rink either in your city or near you. A search on Google is a great way to find this information and also if your local rink has a website. If your local ice rink has a website, chances are they will also have their times listed for public skating sessions as well as information about their learn to skate programs. If your local rink doesn't have a website or their website doesn't provide the information you need, drop in and check them out!
Skates: Rental or Bring Your Own?
The majority of people use rental skates for their first few times at the rink. Practically all rinks provide rentals skates for very little money. The good thing about rental skates, is that it will allow you to start skating immediately and it will give you the experience you need to find out whether you really love the sport or not. The downside of rental skates is that typically they are very broken in, the blades are dull and you don't get a lot of help with sizing.
How to Size Rental Skates
The most irritating thing to see at an ice rink is someone who has on a pair of skates that are just too big or they laced their skates only half way up! Their ankles flop from side to side and you think to yourself that at any moment their ankle will break. Amazingly, they manage to get around the rink once or twice. The sad truth is that many people love the sport but will say "I've tried it but I have weak ankles", or "I love figure skating, but when I tried it, my feet hurt too bad". In all actuality, they probably wore an ill-fitting pair of rental skates and experienced a lot of pain and discomfort. Pain and suffering most likely would sour anyone's opinion of any sport.
Most people assume that your street shoe size is also your skate shoe size. While this is sometimes true, it is not always the case. All skate brands are different, so a size 6 for one brand of skate might really fit like a size 6.5 in another brand of skate. The best way to find out what fits you is to try on different sizes until you get one that fits well.
A well fitting skate should feel comfortable yet snug. They should be laced all the way to the top of the boot and any extra lace should either be wrapped around at the top or tucked in to prevent tripping. When you first stand up, your ankles should not flop from side to side and you should not feel a lot of movement of your foot inside your skate. If this is happening, then get a smaller size skate. On the flip side, if your feet are cramped and your toes are rubbing the inside of the boot, then you should consider a bigger skate.
Your Own Skates
Most people don't purchase skates to go ice skating for the first time. However, if you just have an aversion to wearing something that hundreds of people have placed on their feet before you, then do what makes you comfortable.
Sizing for personal skates is the same as sizing for rental skates. Your skate should have good ankle support, it should be comfortable, yet snug and your feet shouldn't move around in them when you walk or skate. However, if you are going to the trouble of purchasing a pair of skates then please get a good pair. This means that your local hardware store, grocery store or thrifty market isn't the place to get them as they won't have the experience required to size you for a good skate. This doesn't mean you have to pay a lot of money, this just means that you should take the time to get the right fit and support for you by people who know figure skating.
A good resource for finding the correct brand and type of skate for your skill level can be found on our Compare Skatespage. There are also some great skating packages for beginner skaters that include skates with all the necessary items to get you started.
Learn to Skate Programs
Learn to Skate Programs are a great way to get the basic knowledge you need to get you started and to help you get to know the skating professionals at your rink. They are grouped by age and skill level and there are portions of the ice dedicated to those groups. The classes run anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks and are taught by certified coaches who will also give private lessons. The adult classes are sometimes called "Coffee Clubs". Many skaters go on to private lessons after they have completed all the basic skills requirements.
The Learn to Skate programs are based on the ISI or USFSA track in the United States. The Learn to Skate program is Canada is called Skate Canada, in the UK is called Skate UK, in Australia it's called Aussie Skate.
What is the Difference between ISI & USFSA?
ISI - Ice Skating Institute is a skating program for recreational figure skaters. Recreational doesn't mean that you don't learn the correct way to perform a skill or that there are no competitions. ISI is simply for skaters who do not have Olympic aspirations.
USFSA - United States Figure Skating Association is the governing body of Figure Skating in the US and it's programs are designed to be more competitive. There are specific tests that must be passed and you must be a member of the USFSA in order to compete in the Olympics.