Small Steps Make a Good Skater

Whenever my mom would teach a group of new skaters, I remember she would say, “small steps make a good skater”. It may sound silly to hear, but it’s so true. It is common to want to walk or run on our skates the way we do on shoes, because it is what we do every day and our brains are trained to do so. However skating requires a slightly different method, making us to retrain our brains. I am going to walk you through the steps of becoming a good skater, through the practice of marching.

Before we get to skating, we need to first stand. If you have a carpeted area, I would advise starting there. A carpeted area rolls slower. Now when we stand in skates, you want to have a slight bend in your knees, here is why.

  1. It provides more stability. If you are stiff as a tree, you’re going to fall like a tree.
  2. It allows you to skate fast by increasing your push into the floor.

While you are standing in place, extend your arms out to the side keeping hands slightly forward so not to get your arms behind you. Now imagine you are at a table or counter top with your stomach pressed up on it and your hands along the edges flat and extended out. Keep your chest up, head up and shoulders back. You don’t want your hands dropping below your belly button or going above your chest. This posture is called “hands on the table”. Now as you do this, keep your head over your shoulders, shoulders over hips and hips over your feet. It is easy to gravitate towards leaning forward. You want to just bend in the knees, not the waist.

Once you have accomplished this, try marching in place. Each time you do this, you want to pick “all 4 wheels up and put all 4 wheels down”, shifting your lean side to side from the foot you are standing on to the one you’re shifting to. You may be asking yourself, “why the heck am I marching in place? I just want to skate.” Remember one step at a time, the point of the marching is to get you to do two main things.

  1. For one thing you need to get use to using the whole foot and not just the toe or just the heel. When you walk you normally push off your toe. If you were to push off your toe this will lead to falling or you’ll end up like a cartoon character running but going nowhere.
  2. The other reason we march is to get use to changing feet while maintaining balance.

Alright it’s time to get moving. Now when we march we aren’t going to take these huge lunging steps. Instead we’ll be taking small tiny steps. “Why small tiny steps?” you may be asking. Simple, if you take big steps, you are transferring your body weight forward and then your back foot gets stuck behind you, this can lead to falling. Another reason is we get power from side push not from stepping ahead. You should be focusing on bringing your feet back together.

Keep doing this, working on one foot balance, keeping feet close. Also work on doing this while keeping your head up. When you walk, do you look at the ground? No, you would end up walking into things.

Caution: If you feel yourself falling, put both feet down, bend those knees.

Now that you have marching under your belt, this will lead to other skating techniques like scissors and eventually stroking which builds off marching. No matter how good of a skater you become, it all comes back to basics. The stronger your basic skating skills, the better your overall skating skills. If you want to learn more, visit your local skating center and ask them about skating classes. Tutorials and videos are great but you can’t beat the hands on experience you get from being at a rink and working with certified instructors. Remember it’s one small step for man, and one giant step for skating kind, because “small steps make a good skater”.