Ice Skating - buying your own skates?

Soldato
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So, I've been going ice skating for the past month or so and am thinking about taking it a little more seriously and buying my own skates.

My skill level is pretty low, I'm very much a novice still but I've always found I could pick up skating pretty easily and within 5 minutes be pretty comfortable on the ice, I sort of had a what I would call above average ability for a novice! I can go forwards no problem, am comfortable at moderate turns and know the basics of going backwards (though I am in no way proficient!) and I can't yet stop particularly quickly either.

I've obviously always got rental skates but am thinking of buying my own.

I was thinking of going for some hockey skates (I don't want to play hockey!) but most people I see who aren't figure skating seem to have them, so I figured why not me!? I'm of a fairly light build, 5'11" at around 70 kg so I don't need particularly strong/stiff skates that a larger person would and am mostly looking to be able to develop my skating skills as a casual skater.

Does anybody have any recommendations on the sort of hockey skates a beginner should be looking out for? Perhaps looking to spend no more than around £150, I am only a beginner and from what I've read it seems like slightly softer skates (rather than stiffer, more expensive skates) seem to be recommended for beginners.

Any help appreciated!
 
Soldato
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Why not consider getting some second hand skates? That way you can see how much you get into it, then splash out proper money if you continue going?
 
Associate
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Get Hockey skates!

The teeth on the front of figure skates tend to trip up most recreational skaters, also the ankle support is better on a hockey skate.

You should also get a skate hook. (a tool used to help you tighten the laces.... they're dirt cheap)
 
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Like a good kitchen knife, skates need to feel comfortable on your feet. Try them on and if they're not comfortable find another pair. There's very little 'break in' for skates.
 
Soldato
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Buying your own hockey skates is definitely a good idea :) I have my own too, infinitely more comfortable than rental skates and they make the cost of their purchase back quite quickly compared to renting.

Account that you'll need to get them sharpened when you first buy them and then at regular intervals afterwards too.
 
Soldato
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Buying your own hockey skates is definitely a good idea :) I have my own too, infinitely more comfortable than rental skates and they make the cost of their purchase back quite quickly compared to renting.

Account that you'll need to get them sharpened when you first buy them and then at regular intervals afterwards too.

I was wondering if they would be sharpened new and out of the box, its seeming like most aren't.

Was at Widnes ice arena last night and tried a few pairs on. They didn't have many my size though as I have fairly wide feet. Said I'd perhaps need a size 10 D width. The R width skates were just a little bit pinchy on the sides of my feet unfortunately.
 
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Soldato
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Try thinner socks, you wont have warmth issues with proper fitting skates so you can thin down the socks for a more accurate fit. Stance snowboarding socks are worth a look.
 
Soldato
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I kinda accept poor fitting sports footwear as par for the course to be honest. Same with my road bike shoes, it takes an eternity of cleat adjustments to get them right cos I have wide feet and walk a little bit "five to two" if you angle my feet on a clockface! Makes snow plough stops a little more effort for me as I have to point my toes unnaturally inwards.

I thought that would affect my skating much more to be honest but I've found it really doesn't make much difference. I was amazed at just how quickly I picked up backward skating at my last skating lesson. By the end of the evening skate (half hour lesson and another hour practise) I could pretty much skate backwards round the rink and do forwards-backwards transitions. I'm by no means accomplished or fast yet! But it was really good progress.

I've always seemed to have a bit of natural ability at skating for some reason, I tend to pick stuff up fairly quickly. Simple stuff and techniques I'm trying to improve on are forwards lemons, creating the motion just by bending your knees. I struggle to keep the momentum up on that so want to practise that more.

Stopping is still an issue. I've tried T-stopping, which is easy in theory but in practise it tends to spin me towards my toe or back of the foot - whichever part of the skate catches the ice first and I can't bring myself to a fairly swift halt with it yet, its more a series of slowing-down-skids....

I urgently need to learn to hockey stop, if for nothing more than unpredictable child avoidance! Snowploughing is a little weird as I said earlier. I think I've just got to go for the hockey stop and once I "get it" I will "get it forever". But again, as with the T-Stop, its more just a series of sharp(ish) turns that eventually slow me down.

I could write a whole blog on my ice skating progress and it would probably be very dull! But I'm having loads of fun!
 
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Soldato
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Try thinner socks, you wont have warmth issues with proper fitting skates so you can thin down the socks for a more accurate fit. Stance snowboarding socks are worth a look.

Tried some figure skates too to compare but those fits were even narrower! The first size 10s I couldn't even get my foot in really!
 
Soldato
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Went to a place called Als Skate Shop in Deeside and the girl in the store couldn't have been more helpful and friendly. Really great service. Got my feet measured properly for the first time in years. I've always bought either size 10 or 11 shoes before as I have wide feet but turns out they are also really short! So imagine my surprise when she brought out a size 8.5 for me to try! They were pricey but fit so much better than the cheaper ones double E wide fit.

Really chuffed with them. Got them sharpened and baked in store all for free and she threw in a lace hook tool too. Really pleased with my purchase. Vindication that going in to a store and visiting real people is well worth it when you can tap into their knowledge and experience.

Gonna leave them to cool off properly for 24 hours then hit the ice on monday! Cant wait!
 
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Man of Honour
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Your own skates will greatly improve your skating ability. I used to play ice hockey but I can barely skate on the rentals as the blades are always on such poor condition.

Just be prepared for how much they dig into the ice.
 

SPG

SPG

Soldato
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What ever side you can hockey stop on naturally (you will have one) forget it and only use it in emergency. Once the muscle memory kicks in, its very hard habbit to break. So practice your bad side constantly.
 
Soldato
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What ever side you can hockey stop on naturally (you will have one) forget it and only use it in emergency. Once the muscle memory kicks in, its very hard habbit to break. So practice your bad side constantly.

Yup I'm very conscious of trying to practise my weaker side. One thing is that rinks tend to always go anti clockwise so I'm naturally good at left turns only!
 
Soldato
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Just a (not so)quick update and a summary of my current skills, going by the Level 1-10 stuff:

Level 1:

* Sit and stand on the ice: 100% - no problem here, I’ve 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 (I’ve 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 haven’t mastered this yet. A particularly awkward bit of it is switching from the outwards step to bringing the feet back together again – 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 don’t 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 didn’t 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 don’t have a great technique, but I can keep some decent speed and do forwards to backwards transitions – at a fairly decent speed – I need to practise this when increasing my speed – 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 haven’t 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 can’t quite “get it”.

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

That’s 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 can’t 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 “five to two” on the clock face. I don’t generally find this much of an issue skating, but turning my feet inwards feels a bit unnatural. I haven’t 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. I’m 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 – I think because of the anticlockwise rink rotation rules.


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 don’t seem to be putting in giant foot glides to “sprint forwards” and gain speed like I have to. So I’ve come to the basic conclusion that they are simply being really efficient in transferring their weight and momentum directly to the skates to provide good acceleration. It was kinda like one of those eureka moments when I was on the ice last and suddenly found skating so much more effortless! It just clicked.

What isn't clicking yet is stopping, as mentioned above. I'm going back on Friday to practise stopping as I won't be allowed to advance onto more complicated stuff until I've got a stopping technique nailed down. I'm thinking a one footed snowplough will be easiest given the problem with my toes naturally pointing outwards.
 
Soldato
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I know this isn't a high interest thread, but I'm gonna update it every so often so there's a record for history! Ha!

Made pretty swift progress to date, considering its only been a month. I've managed to get the hang of snowploughs and I'm generally much better at everything on the ice and more confident at everything I try. Forwards and backwards lemons are now pretty simple to me and I'm more comfortable at transitioning forwards to backwards at a little more speed with the Mohawk/Monkey feet transition style.

I've started with crossovers now and after my first session trying it, I really hadn't got the hang of it and my success rate was low and it was all complicated and "icky". Definitely no grace or style points, just trying at first to put one foot directly in front of the other. Second session yesterday though was much more successful and I'm finding I can control it a lot more and it isn't as stompy. When you pull it off you can really feel the acceleration through the corners. Really pleased with the progress I've made on this and the thing that made the penny drop was trusting my outside edge on my undercutting foot. Still a long way to go but everything is starting to click into place. I'm much more capable than everyone in my lessons and easily got passed on levels 1, 2 and 3, so am free to start on level 4 in my lessons. Going to take a little break from them for now, just to firm up everything I've learnt so far though so I can go into level 4 ready to be challenged again and learn something new.

Really enjoying the learning journey with this hobby; every time I go I seem to pick something else up. I think I'm a bit of an exception as I have a strong rollerblading background from when I was a kid, just don't seem to take long to pick things up compared to the others in my class. Still need to do a lot more work on my stopping though. I can do planned stops but don't yet have the confidence to do "emergency" stops.
 
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Congrats on the purchase of proper skates. Sounds like you're making rapid progress.

I don't think I can properly tell you how to perform a hockey stop. You just have to do it and learn. That said, there are a few tips I can pass on.

1. Your back foot does most of the stopping, that's where your weight will be. The front foot does little work but can be used to spray ice on your friends. :)

2. You will have a hard time learning to do this at a 'slow' speed. Think of riding a bike at slow speed, balance is difficult and that's a big issue with stopping. Much easier at a faster speed. I highly recommend you wear a bike helmet while learning this because you're going to fall many times before you figure it out.

3. This is where it gets a bit tricky as I'm trying to describe a posture. When stopping your body should not be perpendicular to the ice as it is when skating. What happens next is all in one motion and hard to describe. Bring your feet parallel with each other and perpendicular to the direction you are traveling, slightly lean away from the direction you are traveling putting your weight on the back foot. Once you've come to a stop your momentum will pop you back up perpendicular. Figuring out how far to lean and how much pressure to put on the back foot is the trick. Learning to feel the blade as it digs into the ice and adjusting the pressure and angle will take a little practice.

If at all possible practice during off-peak hours at the rink when there will be fewer people skating. Give yourself room to slide because you're going to fall. :)

HTH

Good luck!
 
Soldato
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Congrats on the purchase of proper skates. Sounds like you're making rapid progress.

I don't think I can properly tell you how to perform a hockey stop. You just have to do it and learn. That said, there are a few tips I can pass on.

1. Your back foot does most of the stopping, that's where your weight will be. The front foot does little work but can be used to spray ice on your friends. :)

2. You will have a hard time learning to do this at a 'slow' speed. Think of riding a bike at slow speed, balance is difficult and that's a big issue with stopping. Much easier at a faster speed. I highly recommend you wear a bike helmet while learning this because you're going to fall many times before you figure it out.

3. This is where it gets a bit tricky as I'm trying to describe a posture. When stopping your body should not be perpendicular to the ice as it is when skating. What happens next is all in one motion and hard to describe. Bring your feet parallel with each other and perpendicular to the direction you are traveling, slightly lean away from the direction you are traveling putting your weight on the back foot. Once you've come to a stop your momentum will pop you back up perpendicular. Figuring out how far to lean and how much pressure to put on the back foot is the trick. Learning to feel the blade as it digs into the ice and adjusting the pressure and angle will take a little practice.

If at all possible practice during off-peak hours at the rink when there will be fewer people skating. Give yourself room to slide because you're going to fall. :)

HTH

Good luck!

Thanks for the advice. I'm slowly getting it. I think actually slow speed helped, just through the action of turning sharply and digging the blades in on the edges. I've got the balance of stopping down, its just a case of adding more speed and building confidence.

The latter point is kinda proving true on a few things I'm trying. I've advanced my transitions from the slow simple twisting of the blades to reverse my direction, to transitioning forwards to backwards using a Mohawk style of skating (or "penguin walk" position) then just snapping the forward facing skate into the reverse direction - I see it in lots of videos online - 1. Weight on front foot, 2. place trailing foot behind leading foot in a Mohawk turn type position 3. lift the front foot and turn it so both feet are oriented in the backwards skating direction - without losing speed.

I need to practise the above whilst going at ever faster speeds to be more comfortable on it.

For crossovers, I'm actually trying to do these at slightly lower speeds just so I can concentrate on getting the technique right. Got my blades freshly sharpened this week after having spent about 15-20 hours on them up till now so should be good to go tomorrow and try more stuff out.

Obviously I work during the week but usually have Friday afternoons off and so head to the rink then when it is, as you say, much quieter. I actually find it quite a Zen experience when the rink is quiet and you can just practise in your own little world. Its quite relaxing. Usually if there are just a few of us, I try and take an end with the faceoff circles and practise clockwise and anticlockwise directions doing figure of 8s round the circles.

As for falling, I'm generally doing OK on that front and generally only fall over about once per two hour session! Got a nice bruise on my knee from an over-confident attempt at a crossover where my outside edge on my inside foot just gave way and sent me flying on the ice! My blades were a bit slide-y though and feeling pretty dull, hence they've just been sharpened again (I still take responsibility for my fall though, it wasn't the skates!).
 
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