As a figure skater, I've fielded countless questions about my sport. Here are a few of the ones I'm asked most frequently.
How Do Figure Skaters Jump and Spin?
Both of these things require similar things to execute. Proper use of edges, power, and speed is critical. Without proper execution, you will not be able to jump or spin. As you can imagine, there is a small margin for error when jumping and spinning. There are a total of four edges that you can use on each foot to perform a variety of moves, jumps, and spins. There are two edges you can use when going forward on each foot and two when skating backwards. They are:
- Forward right outside edge
- Forward right inside edge
- Backward right inside edge
- Backward right outside edge
- Forward left outside edge
- Forward left inside edge
- Backward left outside edge
- Backward left inside edge
This variety of edges is used for spin entrances and exits as well as jump entrances and exits. Learning how to use your edges is a requirement for progressing as a skater. If you cannot execute proper edges, you will not be successful when attempting jumps or spins. Without a reasonable level of power or speed, you will also be unsuccessful when attempting jumps or spins. It also should be noted that if you have visible weakness in differing edges, you will have trouble with certain jumps, spins, and various moves as you attempt to progress to other skills.
Do not allow this slightly technical explanation to deter you. As you likely know, skating is fun whether on wheels or ice. Many people enjoy years of recreational skating while others compete, coach or run related businesses. I highly suggest that people of all ages simply try it.
Do You Get Dizzy?
Some skaters get dizzy when spinning while others don't. I've often wondered if the ones who say they don't get dizzy are fibbing. I personally get dizzy for a second or so after spinning, regardless of how centered my spins are. What I've always done is simply act as if I am not dizzy and keep moving. It helps me to keep moving after a spin rather than suddenly stop. At least in my experience, if I've been spinning very fast and stop very suddenly, the dizziness is amplified. Even if I suddenly stop the dizziness doesn't interfere with my skating or other moves because it seems to last just for a second or so.
I do not believe that dizziness can be completely avoided even with proper technique simply because our bodies are doing something that is unnatural, even if it's our duty as figure skaters to make it look natural.
How Do You Get Started in Figure Skating?
You can visit a local rink and take lessons. Most rinks will offer group lessons from which you can progress to private lessons. You can also start out as a recreational skater. A lot of people skate recreationally, skating only at public sessions and not testing or competing. This is fun, but if you want more out of skating, you will eventually need private lessons.
Private lessons are not typically purchased unless you need extra help to learn moves while you are still enrolled in group lessons or after you've taken group lessons and want to take tests or compete. It is not recommended that private lessons be taken until you want to take tests and compete because they are expensive and all the basics are taught in group lessons. Only if you want to learn more advanced skills or compete should you get private lessons.
Where Can I Buy Figure Skates?
First off, it is far more preferable to have a person who sees you in person and understands your level of skating and what you're working towards help you find proper skates. Do not rely solely on advice online when looking to buy figure skates even from those of us with a great deal of skating, coaching, or even fitting (skates) experience.
Get Different Skates for Different Moves
If you are learning jumps and spinning, you will need skates that have a good deal of support. If you are doing dance you will need skates that have support but will also allow you to bend at the ankle far more so than what is used for freestyle skating. For example, if you do freestyle and dance, you will need two different types of skates to do each discipline well.
Ask Others for Advice
Seek out good referrals from other skaters, coaches and parents of skaters. If you have a group lesson coach, ask them for advice. If you have a private lesson coach, ask them for advice. Most rinks have pro shops that offer figure skates but you must be careful to get the right skates for you. Pro shops at rinks can sometimes be hit or miss. You will need to ask around to find out if there's anyone who works at or owns the pro shop who is or was a skater or coach and if they have training and experience in fitting skates.
Avoid Used Skates
I would not recommend used skates because the fit is likely going to cause you some type of issue. Often, if they are already used, they've molded to someone else's foot which can cause a variety of problems for you and your skating. This is not to say new skates can't cause you problems as well but used skates are typically bought to save money. The issues they can cause may not be worth the savings.
I had a horrible experience with this when I purchased my first pair of figure skating boots that were used. Because they were molded to someone else's foot and ankle, I had a lot of rubbing against my ankle bone that quickly led to pain and open wounds because my skin was rubbed raw and then completely off. Side note, trust me, you do not want open sores or even blisters in skate boots. They are not the most sanitary things to put your feet in even after just a couple of uses.
Skating was horrific pain whenever I put them on and even after taking them off there was only some relief. There are some who say that used skates can be fine, I believe it's possible but not likely. Even if you find used skates that fit your foot and keep your heel locked into place like I did, you can still have the same problems that I did.
A Helpful Resource for Serious Skaters
H C Palting (author) from East Coast on January 24, 2018:
What can I say? It's an Olympic year and I have skating on the brain even more than usual :) Thank you for reading.
Frank Atanacio from Shelton on January 24, 2018:
thank you for this interesting hub..