Author Topic: New(ish) to ice skating - a few notes on my progress!  (Read 530 times)

physichull

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 25
New(ish) to ice skating - a few notes on my progress!
« on: March 17, 2019, 09:15:08 PM »
Hello! I donít know whether folk would be interested in my story of progression or just find it all a bit boring but here it goes, it may be of interest to other skaters at my level and will document my progress:


When I was 18 I used to have my own hockey skates and used to skate with no great skill at Hull Ice Arena for a bit. Then I got a bit older, moved away and stopped skating. I'm now 32 and as such my parents have long since thrown my Bauers out (I know!!!) but I've been going to Altrincham and now Widnes, using their rental skates for a bit and have totally caught the bug again.

I often look with envy at all the teenagers who skip effortlessly round the ice, dodging and weaving, backwards crossovers between unpredictable children and generally having a wicked time!

I used to roller blade as a kid and as such I seem to have an above average level of skating skill for a beginner. When I started back on the ice it usually took me perhaps 10-15 minutes and I was fully comfortable on the ice and skating forwards with confidence. So much so that I've decided to enrol in a 4 week lesson session at Widnes, which by the way, is actually pretty good value - £40 odd quid for four half hour sessions and the public skate afterwards.

On my first lesson (still using rental skates) I skipped straight through level 1 right onto level 2/3 and thoroughly enjoyed it. As such, Iíve gone out and bought some new hockey skates after being aggrieved at the rental skates!


Now a little about my skate buying experience:

In short, I have awkward feet. Both feet are different sizes and they are basically flippers Ė good for swimming. I went into Alís Skate Shop in Deeside with a view to buying something akin to the Bauer NS skates as I read they were a fairly wide fit and were relatively inexpensive. I usually wear size 10-11 shoes so went in expecting to buy some size 10 skates. Got my feet measured and imagine my surprise when the girl in the shop brought out a pair of size 8.5s! Couldnít believe it! I just have short, wide feet!

Tightened up the laces and stood up in them. Not at all convinced. They felt really ďplastic-yĒ and definitely pinched in at the sides. They werenít that far off, but felt wobbly round the ankles when done up tight and I had some real comfort concerns. I wasnít really expecting to pay any more but I asked to try some other, wider skates, which ultimately meant paying more. A lot more.

So instead it was recommended that I try some Bauer Supreme S29s as the shape suited my foot more and I could get a wide double E fit. Put my feet in them and instantly felt 100% better. As such, I knew that if I went skating in the NSís Iíd have been in discomfort and annoyed at them. It was a lot more money but I got them sharpened there and then and also baked. Its perhaps a little OTT for a relatively new skater but Iíd rather have confidence in them and feel comfortable than feel hesitant and unsure in ill fitting but cheaper NS skates. Iím pretty happy with my purchase and a quick note  to say the girl in Alís Skate Shop was brilliant the whole time, very helpful and really sorted me out.


Now back to my current progress, going by the 1-10 level skating thingy. I really wanted to have lessons to learn to skate properly, rather than just plod on my own and keeping up all my bad habbits when learning via youtube! Its still early days, so here goes my level by level summary, based on having had one lesson so far, and skipping level 1 as I was more than capable of it.

Level 1:

* Sit and stand on the ice: 100% - no problem here, Iíve fallen enough and am well practised at getting up!

* Moving forward on the ice: 100% - tick!

* Two foot glide and dip: 100% tick!

* Stepping around on the spot: 100% tick!

Level 2-3 (Iíve grouped these as the lesson was a mix of the two):

* Forward lemons: 50% - actually much more tricky than I first imagined to be but it totally opened my eyes to using my weight and bending my knees more to achieve forward motion, rather than simply throwing my feet forward in forward sweeps. I really havenít mastered this yet. A particularly awkward bit of it is switching from the outwards step to bringing the feet back together again Ė I tend to lose most of the momentum at this switch point. Sometimes I can keep it going, but its really inconsistent. Needs more practise.

* Forward two foot glide on a curve left and right: 100% - no problem at all.

* Forward stroking: 30% - actually pretty hard. I donít know why I tend to find this difficult. Keeping on foot straight and simply bending my knees to push the other foot out. For somebody who can happily speed round the ice forwards, its actually quite dumbfounding that breaking the technique down into the forward stroking is actually quite eye opening! I never got the hang of this seemingly simple thing, more effort needed. At this point I will note that it feels really weird, almost like my progress is going backwards given I can confidently skate forwards without any hitches!

* Forward one foot glide: 90% - both feet, wobbly at first but soon got the hang of this. Just gotta practise a bit more to be more confident. Again what was eye opening about my lack of skill was that I realised just how difficult it was to corner on a one foot glide, at speed. That needs more work.

* Backwards marching across the ice: 50% - OK I think looking back on this, I actually totally cheated! I didnít use the technique the tutor taught us. Instead I reverted to a backwards weaving shimmy and was confidently across the other side of the rink before the rest in my class had gone 2 m. I was really surprised at my progress in this and by the end of the public skate I was able to skate backwards for long stretches at a time and even go round corners and avoid people. There is no doubt that I donít have a great technique, but I can keep some decent speed and do forwards to backwards transitions Ė at a fairly decent speed Ė I need to practise this when increasing my speed Ė but my top speed for this is limited by my backwards speed! I can definitely feel like I can increase my backwards power to go faster but then I get the wobbles and have to slow down. One thing I havenít really nailed though is the backwards to forwards transitions, for some reason this continues to perplex me a bit. Its basically the reverse of forwards to backwards but for some reason I canít quite ďget itĒ.

* Backwards two foot glide Ė 100% no problem with this.

Thatís pretty much all the skills I have at the moment. A couple of areas that I need to learn soon, or are in the very early stages:

* Stopping: I urgently need to learn to stop confidently though, particularly as it will provide me with useful unpredictable child avoidance skills! I have tried the T stop, using the rental skates, but I canít get the blade position right as I either dig in too much at the heel or toe and it spins me out a bit. Snow ploughs are kinda difficult for me as my feet naturally sit at about ďfive to twoĒ on the clock face. I donít generally find this much of an issue skating, but turning my feet inwards feels a bit unnatural. I havenít attempted a snowplough yet. Hockey stops look the most fun, but they are a little off in the distance yet.

* Crossovers: I saw people doing this so looked it up on youtube and found out the that there was a term and it was called crossovers! Decided to have a bit of a go at it after my first lesson. I kinda get it when going anti-clockwise. Its sort of falling into it and letting your inside foot slide away. Iím at a very early stage with this and sort of started to understand this a little, completing one or two awkward crossovers. A long way to go with this. Clockwise is much further behind in progress Ė I think because of the anticlockwise rink rotation rules.


So a bit of a long read Ė but Iím hoping in my next lesson that I can be taught properly to stop and further improve my lemons. What has dawned on me is that keeping momentum by just shifting your weight it crucial. When I see advanced folk just shifting across the ice effortlessly, they donít seem to be putting in giant foot glides to ďsprint forwardsĒ and gain speed like I have to. So Iíve  come to the basic conclusion that they are simple being really efficient in transferring their weight and momentum directly to their skates to provide good acceleration. Food for thought.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2019, 09:16:41 PM by physichull »

Leif

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 489
Re: New(ish) to ice skating - a few notes on my progress!
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2019, 08:17:46 AM »
You made a wise choice of skates, the Bauer S29 is a very nice product, good stiffness and padding, for a decent price, but not too expensive. For stopping the snow plough should be easier than the T stop, though it all depends on your flexibility. I am not flexible and still dislike the T stop whereas I find the snow plough simple. It just takes repeated goes as it feels very odd at first. And the snow plough is the first step in learning the hockey stop, which every hockey skater wants to learn cos it's fun. You will eventually want to learn and practice edges, perhaps the most useful drill I know.

physichull

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 25
Re: New(ish) to ice skating - a few notes on my progress!
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2019, 08:35:44 AM »
You will eventually want to learn and practice edges, perhaps the most useful drill I know.

I don't actually know what that means! :)

I obviously know what my edges are, but what do you  mean by practising them?

Leif

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 489
Re: New(ish) to ice skating - a few notes on my progress!
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2019, 10:40:24 AM »
I don't actually know what that means! :)

I obviously know what my edges are, but what do you  mean by practising them?

It might be an intermediate or advanced skill, I'm not sure, WednesdayMarch and others would know more about that than me. However, the idea is that you skate on one foot and use one edge. To do an inside edge on the left foot, glide on your left foot while turning to the right. You turn naturally by leaning gently, rather than actively turning the foot. It will be hard at first, but eventually you will be able to do a tight arc with a good lean. Sticking your arms our to each side, and keeping a decent knee bend help. To do an outside edge on the left foot, glide on your left foot, but this time turn to the left. Outside edges are MUCH harder, so don't even try until you can do inside edges. That is definitely a more advanced skill. I found it very hard at first, it took me months to learn. But it is something I do every session. I found inside edges hard too, then again, I find most things hard, that's the nature of skating, work until it's easy or at least easier.

WednesdayMarch

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 433
  • Nicer when fed...
Re: New(ish) to ice skating - a few notes on my progress!
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2019, 09:27:32 AM »
Practising edges is where you draw or imagine a straight line (ideally down the long axis of the rink) and practise skating one foot curves/edges in semi circles either side of that line, changing feet when you get back to the line each time.  It's really the basis of all skating and can never be practised enough, plus the joy of beautiful sweeping edges should never be underestimated.

One thing I would say after reading your post, physichull - especially the last paragraph - is that your feet need to come together before you push.  Skating isn't like walking or running; you don't need to take the free foot past the skating foot to gain forward momentum.  There is a definite order and rhythm to it but roughly speaking it's feet together, bend, push, glide/rise up on skating knee, feet together (free foot still off the ice), bend both knees (free foot still off the ice as you bend), change your weight on the skating foot to the inside edge, free foot down to become the skating foot for the new - roughly outside - edge and push from the other inside edge, ad infinitum...   Much, much easier to teach on the ice or at least in person, as you can demonstrate.  I've lost count of the hours I've spent with people as they practise the order whilst holding on to the barrier with both hands, just to get it fixed in their heads.  But when they do, their skating technique improves exponentially and the smiles on their faces are well worth all those hours.

Good luck with your skating - and enjoy every minute of the journey!
Returned to the ice in Sept 2017 after a major leg injury in 1999. Skating in Graf Dance boots and MK Dance blades. It's still a bit slippery...

Leif

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 489
Re: New(ish) to ice skating - a few notes on my progress!
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2019, 10:03:24 AM »
I forgot to add that you don't necessarily have short wide feet. It is normal for skates sizes to be 1-2 sizes down from shoe size. I am a size 9 shoe and a size 6.5 (left) and 6.75(right) skate. I don't know why there is such a large disparity, though skates are supposed to fit more closely than shoes.

physichull

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 25
Re: New(ish) to ice skating - a few notes on my progress!
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2019, 12:17:47 PM »
One thing I would say after reading your post, physichull - especially the last paragraph - is that your feet need to come together before you push.  Skating isn't like walking or running; you don't need to take the free foot past the skating foot to gain forward momentum.  There is a definite order and rhythm to it but roughly speaking it's feet together, bend, push, glide/rise up on skating knee, feet together (free foot still off the ice), bend both knees (free foot still off the ice as you bend), change your weight on the skating foot to the inside edge, free foot down to become the skating foot for the new - roughly outside - edge and push from the other inside edge, ad infinitum...

This is something that very much clicked with me after my last skate on Monday. It was a bit of a eureka moment if I'm being honest, just taking calm, smooth sideways glides with each foot and I got some much more speed up with like half the effort. It all just made sense.

What isn't making sense at the moment is stopping. I urgently need to learn/practise how to stop, otherwise I won't be allowed to advance to the next set of lessons. Going back on Friday to practise.

I've been taught the T-Stop - which fundamentally seems ok and I can use it to gently slow down but the final stop is kinda hard as you lose speed I tend to spin a little. The tutor said that that sort of thing happens as I start to turn my hips, so I've got to concentrate on not turning them!

Snowploughs are another animal altogether. Because my feet naturally point at "five to two" on the clockface, I'm finding snowploughs a little tricky as it relies on me pointing my toes inwards, heels outwards, which is incredibly un-natural and quite hard for me to do in terms of flexibility. Speaking to the tutor afterwards, she suggested perhaps trying just one footed snowploughs instead.

I can kinda throw my feet out into that position but its pretty uncontrolled as I have to use a lot of effort to get my feet to go that way. I can sort of skid a bit but either the edges tend to dig in a little or I end up nearly doing the splits as I throw my feet out wide in order to get the right foot angle. It may just be the age old thing of practise, practise and more practise though! Again, the tutors make it look annoyingly effortless!

If anyone has any ankle flexibility advice, that would be much appreciated, but at the moment I am assuming with more skating practise my body will adapt (if just slightly) and allow my ankles to be a little more flexible. Going by the feeling of my leg muscles, it seems like ankle flexibility is related a little to the muscles that run along the outside edge of the lower leg, just outside the shin. Hard to explain, but that feels a little tight when pointing my toes in. Maybe with more skating these muscles might adapt a bit more. (jus' guessin'!)
« Last Edit: March 20, 2019, 12:22:54 PM by physichull »

Leif

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 489
Re: New(ish) to ice skating - a few notes on my progress!
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2019, 01:27:23 PM »
Start with a one foot snow plough. The advice I give to beginners is to not try to stop. Bend your knees a bit, and if stopping with the left foot, rotate the left foot about the toe, moving the ankle outwards. Don't try to stop, just get used to turning the foot into an unnatural position. Do it as gently and gradually as you can. And repeat, repeat, repeat. The blade on the left skate should be slightly tilted from the vertical so that the bit in contact with the ice is a bit further away from you. You will at this stage have more weight on your right foot. Once you get used to gliding in this strange position, you can gradually transfer more weight onto the left foot and get used to the stopping action. Too much and you go posterior over tip.

It might be worth practising off ice, either in normal shoes or in bare feet.

I did once lose control, and my feet went further apart from each other than 'desirable' or comfortable. It greatly amused some people watching me. I was not so amused.  :)

For some reason little kids often come up to me and ask me to teach them to hockey stop, and the above is what I tell them to do. They always succeed: little kids are tenacious once they set their mind on something.

physichull

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 25
Re: New(ish) to ice skating - a few notes on my progress!
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2019, 10:51:07 AM »
Made some real progress yesterday in stopping. Getting  the hang of the snowplough, albeit my right foot doesn't really skid that much as I find it harder to angle the toes inwards, however it does make backwards snowploughs pretty easy for me!!

I've been trying hockey stops off your advice of just doing a one footed snowplough then going from there and I have a much better feel for it. I reckon by the end of next week I'll be even better, or at least good enough to go to level 2/3 stuff!

T stop is still deceiving me. Sometimes I attempt one and the balance is just right and it works, but 90% of the time it sends me into a spin. More practise needed there.

I do a lot of road cycling which keeps me fit but this is working so many more different muscles and I'm usually pretty tired after 2 hours on the ice! Feels good afterwards though. 

WednesdayMarch

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 433
  • Nicer when fed...
Re: New(ish) to ice skating - a few notes on my progress!
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2019, 12:37:35 PM »
T stop is still deceiving me. Sometimes I attempt one and the balance is just right and it works, but 90% of the time it sends me into a spin. More practise needed there.

Make sure you're dragging the outside edge of the blade.  Makes all the difference.

I do a lot of road cycling which keeps me fit but this is working so many more different muscles and I'm usually pretty tired after 2 hours on the ice! Feels good afterwards though.

You're not just working your muscles; your brain is getting a major workout, too.  Don't underestimate that!  Sounds that you're enjoying the journey.   :)
Returned to the ice in Sept 2017 after a major leg injury in 1999. Skating in Graf Dance boots and MK Dance blades. It's still a bit slippery...

physichull

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 25
Re: New(ish) to ice skating - a few notes on my progress!
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2019, 05:53:33 PM »
Make sure you're dragging the outside edge of the blade.  Makes all the difference.

You're not just working your muscles; your brain is getting a major workout, too.  Don't underestimate that!  Sounds that you're enjoying the journey.   :)

Outside edge? I'm confused?

My brain is also exhausted just watching out for the random movements of "pedestrians"!