Ice Skating Basics

Ice Skating Basics

What are the basics of ice skating? What are the most important things to understand about ice skating? Read below to learn what ice skating is, basic drills on how to get better at it, and what rules and regulations govern competitive ice skating.

Ice Skating Basics

Although difficult, ice skating can be one of the most exciting and fun athletic activities to learn. The most basic skill to have to start ice skating is balance. Practicing your balance off the ice will help improve your skating ability. Learning to skate requires you to learn how to balance on thin blades and move your body fluidly at the same time, which takes a lot of practice.

Aside from balance, it is also important for ice skaters to know how to skate properly. This includes making strides, turning, and stopping by using each specific part of the skate at exactly the right time. Learning to move, especially in an aesthetically appealing way, on two blades is a skill unique to ice skating and one that takes lots of time and effort to feel natural. To master any of these skills, you must practice on the ice.

Basic Ice Skating Drills

When just learning to skate, you want to start off with simple drills to get you comfortable on the ice. Common drills include learning to stand up on the ice from sitting down, gliding down the ice on two skates, and beginning to practice elementary stops.

Once you have become familiar with what it feels like to be on ice skates, you are able to move on to more intermediate skating drills. Intermediate drills include balancing on one skate, making turns on one skate, and mastering how to stop. These moves are mostly about coordinating your leg movements now that you know how to balance and move without falling. Practicing these drills will get you ready to move on to advanced skating drills.

Advanced skating drills are reserved for those who have become not only comfortable, but proficient on ice skates. These include practicing jumps, crossovers, and turning while balancing on one skate. There are several parts to each skate, and using them in precise motions at just the right time can help you deliver complicated maneuvers that will wow the judges. These drills are not easy, but they will certainly help you to become a master on ice skates.

The Most Important Things To Know About Ice Skating

The most important thing to know about ice skating is that it is incredibly difficult and takes a true commitment to succeed. Skating ability, as well as the ability to dance while doing so, are not traits that come to just anyone. Ice skating is known for being a sport that takes very long hours practicing and learning the craft. Ice skating is also very expensive as multiple pieces of equipment are needed in addition to time in the rink. This can be a burden to some athletes trying to get into the sport, but most rinks offer cheap public sessions that include skate rentals for those just beginning.

  1. It takes hours of practice
  2. Having quality equipment is crucial
  3. Skaters must know how to skate incredibly well
  4. Spins, steps, and jumps are an important part of figure skating
  5. A big part of ice skating is learning specific turns and rotations
  6. There are many moves in ice skating that skaters can master
  7. A performance by a figure skater is called a “routine,” similar to dancing
  8. Skaters have coaches that help them practice and analyze their routines
  9. Figure skaters wear costumes during competitions

List of Ice Skating Basic Rules

In ice skating, you are scored by a panel of judges, and the job of the ice skater is to get the highest possible score. Athletes are judged based on the precise execution of their planned program as well as the artistic value added in the heat of the moment. This is the same in pairs and ice dance, except both athletes are judged based on their coordinated movements. Here is a list of some more key ice skating rules and regulations:

  • Athletes must wear approved figure skates
  • Men must wear pants or trousers
  • Women must wear tights and trousers or a unitard
  • Costumes cannot be too decorative or revealing
  • Athletes must vary their performances from routine to routine  
  • Athletes can be disqualified for not following time regulations
  • No performance-enhancing drugs are allowed at any time
  • Certain types of music are not allowed 

Ice Skating Competition

There are generally four types of competitive ice skating: singles, pairs, teams, and ice dance. Singles competitions are divided into men’s and women’s categories, while pairs and ice dance competitions traditionally involve duos of one man and one woman. These pairs train and compete together for years and often entire careers together, similar to the way teams play together in other sports.

Except for teams, which is an overall category used to judge entire collegiate and Olympic teams, each type of figure skating has its own unique style and rules with points assigned to specific moves. A Grade of Execution (GOE) that ranges from -5 to +5 is given by a panel of judges so that extra value can be added or subtracted from the assigned worth of each move. All figure skating competitions, unless disqualifications occur, are won by whoever earns the highest total score.

Ice Skating Basics Summary

  • Judges score a routine based on the difficulty and execution of moves during a routine.
  • Ice skaters are judged on their skating skills, transitions, performance, composition, and interpretation of music.
  • There are a maximum of nine judges at each competition.
  • The highest and lowest scores for each component are thrown out.
  • The skater or team with the highest score wins the competition.


What skills do you need to ice skate?

The most important skills to have when ice skating are balance and body control. Balancing is especially important because performing on ice skates is much different than off the ice. If you do not have good balance, it is very easy to fall over. Body control is equally as important, as guiding your body through a routine is key to achieving a high score.

What are the rules of figure skating?

The most important rule of figure skating is to skate according to your planned program. Before each competition, skaters submit to the judges an exact list of what moves they intend to deliver. Each athlete, or pair of athletes, is judged based on how exactly they stick to this program and are given a score for how well they execute each move. Whoever has the highest score wins.

What is a grade of execution in figure skating?

In figure skating, a grade of execution (GOE) is an extra value assigned by a panel of judges for each move that a skater does in competition. On a scale from -5 to +5, skaters will be given negative scores for things like missing a number of spins or falling, while a positive score will be given for going above what is expected, such as executing a move well or landing a jump in perfect sync with the music.