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How To Move Forward on Ice Skates


Woman iceskating on lake, smiling
Bernhard Lang/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
The first thing most beginning ice skaters learn (after mastering falling down and getting up), is how to move forward on the ice. This short article will help teach beginners how to do that skill correctly.

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Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: The time required for this task will vary.

Here's How:

  1. March in place.

    While standing in one place, lift up one foot and then the other. Put the weight of the feet a bit over the front of the skates so there is no glide.

    Put the arms, with the palms facing down, in front on an "imaginary table" for balance.

  2. Next, march and move.

    Take about four small "baby steps" and then rest and glide on two feet. The weight should now be a bit further back on the blades so some glide can occur.

  3. Now, do short "scooter" steps with one foot at a time.

    The skater should pretend he is riding a scooter down the street. Arms can be kept in front on "imaginary scooter bars" for balance.

  4. Next, do alternating "scooter" steps.

    Take a step onto the right foot, rest on two feet, and then step onto the left foot. Repeat this exercise over and over. The skater should try hard not to gain speed by using the toe picks of the blades.

    Use the "rest" on two feet to maintain balance.

  5. Once a skater feels comfortable doing "Scooters," swizzles, and one-foot glides, he or she is ready to learn how to stroke forward properly.

  6. Before beginning forward stroking, skaters should master forward swizzles.

    Put the blades together with heels touching in a "V" position. On inside edges, push outward, then inward to make the toes touch. The skater should make a tracing on the ice that is the shape of a fish or a football. Repeat by doing several swizzles in a row.

    To make this move work, make sure to bend the knees forward so that they almost push out over the toes to start the swizzle. Don't let the feet go out too far and stay on inside edges. At the midpoint of the move, begin to bring the toes together.

  7. Now, a new figure skater must master gliding on one foot.

    To do a one-foot glide on figure skates, glide on two feet first. Then transfer the weight to the foot that the glide will take place on. Lift up the other foot while gliding on an edge. Don’t lift up the arms and also don’t lift up the leg too high.

    The skater should make sure the glide occurs on either a forward inside or a forward outside edge. Gliding on the ice does not work if the blades are on a flat.

    A skater should be able to hold a one-foot glide for a distance equal to his or her height.

  8. Once the gliding on one foot is mastered, the skater can begin to learn how to stroke.

    Begin by standing at the rail with the feet in a "T" position. Holding on to the rail may be useful for this exercise.

  9. Now, slide the front foot forward and then gently pull it back to a "T."

    Notice that there is NO toe-pick involved in doing this motion. Feel the push coming from the inside edge of the back foot.

  10. Once the skater can do the "T-Exercise" comfortably, he or she can slide forward on one foot and can then gently push off into a nice one foot glide.

    Now move away from the wall and try the same exercise on each foot.

  11. Now try pushing from one foot to the other.

    Use the "T-push" exercise and move from one foot to the other. The free leg should be extended back, the free toe should be pointed, and the skating knee should be bent approximately at a one-hundred and twenty degree angle between the hamstring and the calf.

    Don't look down. Keep the arms extended out in a slight "V." Keep the stomach muscles in. Keep both of the hips and shoulders pointing in the same direction.

  12. Remember to not use the toe picks to make the blades go.

    The toe picks on figure skates are not meant to help with pushing. Use the entire blade to make the skates move. Using the blade rather than the toe pick, does take practice and concentration.


  1. Don't let the upper body wobble. Tuck the stomach in.

  2. Don't use the toe picks of the blades to gain speed.

  3. Control is a key to moving forward on the ice safely. Do not let the arms swing around.

  4. Move slowly at first.

  5. The free leg in stroking should be extended back at a slight angle.

What You Need

  • Figure Skates
  • An Ice Rink
  • A Rail
  • Gloves and Skating Clothing
  • A Skating Instructor if Possible
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