How to Ice Skate for Beginners

Today I’m going to teach you the basics of ice skating so that you can A) Get an idea of what it is you’re going to get to do, and B) get started doing it. I’ve got a series of instructional videos by Michael Weiss, a three-time U.S. Men’s Champion, two-time World Bronze Medalist, two-time Olympian, World Junior Champion, and World University Champion. He was also the first U.S. man to land a quadruple toe loop in competition. Before we get started I’ve got a few basic tips for you, and then we’ll get straight to learning the six basic jumps.

Basic essentials and a few tips

  • If you’ve never tried it I highly recommend you go to a public rink and rent a pair of skates. When you do this, wear something comfortable like
    a loose pair of jeans, make certain that you choose a pair of skates that fit you (skate size often does not match shoe size!), get expert help (or at least help from someone who already knows how to skate fairly well) if at all possible, plus you should probably

    put some elbow and knee pads on and a helmet–yes, you look silly, but it’s worth avoiding an injury that could put an end to your skating career for a few months before it even has a chance to get started.

  • Learn how to fall. This is the most important skill a beginner must master first. And the way to do it is to start of low and slow on the ice, and literally practice falling: break your fall with your butt, not your hands (you could break your wrists), elbows, or knees; if you fall forward, keep your chin up and try very hard not to let it hit the ice, then break the fall with your hands (breaking your wrists is better than your face/head, but wrist guards are still recommended when you do this); pull your hands in to prevent them from being run over by other skaters; to get up, get on your hands and knees, then move one skate underneath you, and get the second one underneath you as soon as you can. Practice falling forwards and backwards until you can do it without hurting yourself–like I said, start off doing this moving low and slow over the ice (squat, in other words).
  • Most skating rinks are around 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, so dress accordingly.

The Six Basic Jumps

Alright, let’s get this party started:

Part 1: Introduction and safety basics

Part 2: The single Sachow jump

Part 3: The loop jump

Part 4: The axel jump

Part 5: The toe loop jump

Part 6: The flip jump

Part 7: The Lutz jump

Additional Resources and Further Reading

If you’re serious about ice skating I highly recommend a book called Conditioning for Figure Skating: Off-Ice Techniques for On-Ice Performance: it covers proper warm-up drills, flexibility stretches, cooldown routines, strength training exercises, jump and plyometric training programs, and endurance conditioning exercises for on-ice injury prevention. has got a whole section devoted to ice skating techniques and tips.

Here’s an interesting page from Dave Curtis that explains a lot of the jumps with diagrams, definitely worth a look.