Beginner guide to ice skating gear

Essential kit for ice skating novices

From choosing the best ice skates through to wearing the right clothing for skating, this beginner guide will tell you everything you need to know about buying ice skating gear.

Choosing the right ice skates

Before you even consider buying a pair of ice skates, it’s vital you decide on which ice-based activity you specifically wish to pursue. Each ice skating discipline has its own individual skate requirements which you really need to be aware of before impulse-buying the first pair you spot ...

Figure skates

Figure skating requires performers to carry out jumps, spins and quick turns in highly choreographed combinations. As a result, figure skates need to be very flexible and, preferably, sculpted from leather. Figure skating blades should also be very sharp to match the performer’s need for accuracy. Each blade runs along the base of a boot, and is complemented by a toe-pick at the front, allowing for easier jumping and spinning.

Ice hockey skates

While figure skates are built for speed and grace, ice hockey skates are shaped to withstand the physical pressures of an intense high-contact sport. Ice hockey boots are not designed to fit the competitor’s ankles as snugly as figure skates. Instead, they are flatter and more slender, with no toe-pick at the front. Ice hockey skates are lighter than figure skates, but offer more support to the feet with blades that are rounded at the back.

Speed skates

Speed skating requires very fast movement in the feet, allowing for swift progress in a race across the ice. In light of this, speed skates have very long and thin blades that stretch beyond each end of the skate. Similarly, many speed skating blades are designed so that they are not attached to the heel of the boot. This prevents the blade from digging into the ice and slowing down the competitor with friction. Speed skates are not recommended to absolute beginners, so try and avoid buying a pair unless you’re specifically going into that field (or rather, rink) of ice skating!

Buying the best-fitting pair of ice skates

So now that you know the difference between the three major types of ice skates, you might be wondering what else to look out for when buying your first pair ...

If you’re a beginner who simply wants to learn some ice skating basics, and have a fun and active time in the process, you’re really best opting for some figure skates. Whereas ice hockey and speed skates are designed with specific sports in mind, figure skates offer everything you need to learn some of the more basic moves and turns.

When trying on a pair of skates, make sure they fit snugly and are not too tight or loose. It’s so important that your ankles are well-supported during any skating session and if your skates are too stiff (or even too flexible) you could be in real danger of turning your ankle and causing serious damage to your under-pressure feet.

So before you whip out that credit card, make sure you’re fully aware of the specific type of ice skates you’re about to buy and fully assess how well they fit your feet. In the ice skating world, money really is everything when it comes to getting a pair of decent skates, so don’t skimp on the quality just to save money. Buy from a specialist store and seek expert advice wherever possible!

Picking the right clothing for ice skating

As its name would suggest, ice skating can be quite chilly especially if you suffer the occasional tumble and fall onto the cold, hard surface of the rink.

Beginner ice skating is all about staying warm and comfy. You may look stylish in your best designer sportswear, but you certainly won’t when you’ve fallen over in front of a gaggle of giggling schoolchildren. Kids can be so cruel ... Make sure you layer-up with tights, thick socks and even thermal underwear.

Unless you’re taking part in a serious ice skating contest, your clothes should really be close-fitting and not too tight or baggy. Your best bet for ice skating gear is clothing that is light and fairly durable, restricting the pain caused by the falls you’ll inevitably suffer in the early days.

As for accessories, feel free to wear head or eye protection, if you think it necessary, and try to hunt down a decent pair of insulated gloves that will keep your hands warm if you do slip and fall on the ice. Gloves may also provide some protection in the unfortunate event of you slipping over and getting your hands caught by the blade of another skater’s boot. Wear the thickest gloves you can possibly find, otherwise you could end up taking a couple of severed fingers home as a souvenir!

Getting prepared for ice skating 

Starting out in ice skating really needn’t cost the earth and once you’ve invested in a strong pair of skates and some warm gear you’ll be ready to take part in a beginner lesson before you know it. By wearing the right clothing and footwear for ice skating, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favour, protecting yourself from an otherwise nasty fall and a literal icy reception. So get your skates on and enjoy some quality ice skating action today!

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