tips for self taught figure skating? | Golden Skate

tips for self taught figure skating?

dayskates

Spectator
Joined
Dec 14, 2017
Hi! I'm 14 and have been teaching myself to figure skate for about a year now. I've made alright progress, but certainly not what I could achieve with a coach. But due to the fact that I fell in love with one of the most expensive sports out there, it's just not possible for me to take proper lessons. However I'm lucky enough to get to skate once a week for 2 hours and I intend to keep making the most of that. That being said, got any tips or advice for learning on my own? I'm currently around a usfsa basic level 5 for reference. And also, I'm not the most fit person in the world by far, so what would you say are the most important things to strengthen up?
My apologies, I'm quite scatterbrained, but one more thing. My spins? Absolutely terrible. I can't seem to keep my balance even with two feet and I always end up shifting my position a bit and falling out of it. Am I doing something wrong?
~ thank you !!
 

karne

in Emergency Backup Mode
Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 1, 2013
Country
Australia
How to teach yourself figure skating?

Answer: you don't.

It is not possible to teach yourself correctly. Your path right now is a direct path to bad technique and injury.
 

Curlygirly81

On the Ice
Joined
Oct 8, 2017
Hi dayskates! Why not take a municipal program? Some of them touch on figure skating and the cost is far less ( I teach for one in Canada) I would never suggest someone self teach if you don't have a full figue skating background meaning you've been through the program, took time off and are returning. Seeing as how you are new to skating you can create some bad habits if not properly instructed, which can be more difficult to correct. I know figure skating is an expensive sport. An option is joining a municipal program to get the fundamentals then join a figure skating club, you can control how many days per week to keep down cost. On the other days you can go practice at various public skates sessions. Some good books you can read that may help are: the complete book of figure skating and artistry on ice. Hope this helps!:)
 

Sam-Skwantch

“I solemnly swear I’m up to no good”
Record Breaker
Joined
Dec 29, 2013
Country
United-States
My first question is if there are any instructors who offer lessons privately at public skating sessions you attend? Even just doing a few of those and letting them assess your situation and find appropriate skills and excercises to practice can be very beneficial. You can do a couple of these and then work on those skills for a few months and then repeat that process.
 

Ic3Rabbit

Patineuse élite et professionnelle
Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 9, 2017
Country
Scotland
Find a coach that can teach you maybe a few times a month and then gives you things to practice in the meantime.

DO NOT try to teach yourself. You will learn improper technique that will be hard to unlearn as well as possibly injuring yourself.
 

vlaurend

Final Flight
Joined
Jan 14, 2008
If you take videos and post them here, I'm sure some of us can chime in and give you pointers. Without seeing what you're doing wrong, it's pretty hard to know all the things you aren't getting by trying to figure it out on your own. And there will be a lot. I mean, a lot. Because so much of what you need to do in this sport to make things work is very counter-intuitive. You need to challenge and unlearn a lot of things your body has learned about what it should do.
 

Mussique

On the Ice
Joined
Aug 30, 2017
I agree with everything everyone has posted here. However, I know getting real coaching (more so, at your age, when you're not financially independent) can be a challenge, so here are a few suggestions:

- This has already been said (Sam-Skwantch, Ic3Rabbit) but it'd be your current best option so repeating it doesn't hurt: try to get coaching even if it's only once a month or so. Ask around the rink. One private class or two can make a world of difference, and even more importantly, they can give tips for you to work on your own.

- Keep an schedule while going to the rink and you'll eventually find there are many people going there to train. Be friendly with them, appreciative, and you can ask them from time to time for points on specific moves (of course don't expect free classes). Usually everyone in the rink is going to try to be helpful. And you can also end up with a lot of friends who also love to skate!
Beware that learning like this in public sessions can't compare to the benefits real coaching would have
[ - Related to the point above, learn to differentiate people who know the correct technique and people who just copy things around. You don't want to get taught the wrong things. There are hockey players with good hockey technique, for example, but I wouldn't suggest getting advice from them because it's fairly different from what you want to learn. Maybe before getting any advice from anyone ask them where did they learn —listen to what they are telling you to do but apply it or not depending on if it's actually coherent :'D
(i added this point because there was this guy at my old rink with good intentions but teaching things the opposite way of what they were supposed to be!!! I've lately discovered this is actually a type of person, the Overly Helpful Samaritan™, they will recommend you things that are overly advanced for your level, and the wrong way)]

- Watch videos for specific moves and study the correct technique. Record yourself and compare. It will probably look awful at first, don't worry, everyone of us has gone through that :laugh: . There are also some services online who basically do that for you (what vlaurend said basically) but I've never tried them (nor do I know anyone who does). I do find videos very useful and they complement nicely a coach. This is a painfully slow way to learn because usually you need time to record, watch, fix, and repeat. But it can be helpful.

- Ask your parents for your Birthday/Christmas present for maybe an intensive course or some regular classes? It may work!
---
About your spins, it could be many things! It's tricky to learn them. But I'm 80% sure it may be:
-You're not keeping your core strong enough (you need to be straight and tight. As my coach said once: "an overcooked noodle doesn't spin!!")
- You're leaning on the wrong foot. Always keep your weight over your spinning foot (but don't lean over either!)
- Keep that head up!

I also spent quite a bit of time (I'm a lying liar who lies —I still do it >\\\\<) going into my toepicks at first. You want to keep your weight in the ball of your foot, which is the sweetest spot for turning. Practice finding it. It's the spot that makes the least sound when you turn in the ice.
Get first a good two foot spin and then you try getting that feet up for balance (or learn the entrance to the one foot spin).

Good luck. Be very very careful when learning new moves or you'll get vices —and that takes twice as long to unlearn, I'm talking from experience.
 

davincisoprano

Rinkside
Joined
Aug 19, 2015
While I admire that you're following the structure (because I see way too many people self teach but ignore the fundamentals and instead jump, literally, into axel and spins with poor technique) I would highly recommend looking into even group classes. Generally those are more affordable than privates for the time being. Otherwise, see about hiring a coach for even twice a month who can help fix any technique issues or poor habits you may have picked up.

It is so much harder to unlearn poor habits than it is to learn it properly the first time.
 

davincisoprano

Rinkside
Joined
Aug 19, 2015
Keep an schedule while going to the rink and you'll eventually find there are many people going there to train. Be friendly with them, appreciative, and you can ask them from time to time for points on specific moves (of course don't expect free classes). Usually everyone in the rink is going to try to be helpful.

Generally when I see someone who is trying and wants to learn or struggling with an aspect of an element, I'm more than happy to take a few minutes and help them. Especially if it's something that will prevent injury later on (I see a lot of people try self teaching themselves back crossovers who somehow bring the wrong foot in front.... they manage to do them somehow too, but they risk a really bad fall). So definitely be friendly and open to any help someone may be willing to give you. :)
 

Yuzuruu

the silent assassin
Medalist
Joined
Nov 21, 2017
If you have the opportunity try to record yourself. It is akward and funny watching all the weird positions you do but you’ll get used to that and it is really helpful :) I learned by watching literally hours of YouTube material, both lessons and just figure skating competitions, it helped me a ton with adjusting the way my arms work with my body. I managed to learn a single sal, toe and loop by myself with proper technique although remember to start with the basics, don’t try to jump before you control your skates well. If you think of any kind of competetive skating try some group lessons at least because self learning won’t really take you anywhere, I just do it for fun and still can’t spin at all [emoji846]
 

loopy

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 13, 2012
People have been skating long before there were any other than an elite few who were "figure skaters", it's fun and challenging. I would watch videos on youtube, look for better quality ones done by coaches. There is an app too by US figure skating. As long as you realize you are just playing and having fun and not on the road to the Olympics, skating for fun and fitness is really awesome. You might invest in a pair of comfortable recreational skates so that you get something consistent on your feet and have them sharpened once or twice a year. If you can, look into community classes, where I am intro classes are about 50 dollars for 4 weeks and include the public session on the day of your class and a pass to come back during the week. After taking that a couple times, you can look at rink sponsored lessons - they cost about 120 for 6 weeks where I am. It's a little more but they cover a longer curriculum. Have fun, bring your friends, enjoy!
 

dayskates

Spectator
Joined
Dec 14, 2017
I agree with everything everyone has posted here. However, I know getting real coaching (more so, at your age, when you're not financially independent) can be a challenge, so here are a few suggestions:

- This has already been said (Sam-Skwantch, Ic3Rabbit) but it'd be your current best option so repeating it doesn't hurt: try to get coaching even if it's only once a month or so. Ask around the rink. One private class or two can make a world of difference, and even more importantly, they can give tips for you to work on your own.

- Keep an schedule while going to the rink and you'll eventually find there are many people going there to train. Be friendly with them, appreciative, and you can ask them from time to time for points on specific moves (of course don't expect free classes). Usually everyone in the rink is going to try to be helpful. And you can also end up with a lot of friends who also love to skate!
Beware that learning like this in public sessions can't compare to the benefits real coaching would have
[ - Related to the point above, learn to differentiate people who know the correct technique and people who just copy things around. You don't want to get taught the wrong things. There are hockey players with good hockey technique, for example, but I wouldn't suggest getting advice from them because it's fairly different from what you want to learn. Maybe before getting any advice from anyone ask them where did they learn —listen to what they are telling you to do but apply it or not depending on if it's actually coherent :'D
(i added this point because there was this guy at my old rink with good intentions but teaching things the opposite way of what they were supposed to be!!! I've lately discovered this is actually a type of person, the Overly Helpful Samaritan™, they will recommend you things that are overly advanced for your level, and the wrong way)]

- Watch videos for specific moves and study the correct technique. Record yourself and compare. It will probably look awful at first, don't worry, everyone of us has gone through that :laugh: . There are also some services online who basically do that for you (what vlaurend said basically) but I've never tried them (nor do I know anyone who does). I do find videos very useful and they complement nicely a coach. This is a painfully slow way to learn because usually you need time to record, watch, fix, and repeat. But it can be helpful.

- Ask your parents for your Birthday/Christmas present for maybe an intensive course or some regular classes? It may work!
---
About your spins, it could be many things! It's tricky to learn them. But I'm 80% sure it may be:
-You're not keeping your core strong enough (you need to be straight and tight. As my coach said once: "an overcooked noodle doesn't spin!!")
- You're leaning on the wrong foot. Always keep your weight over your spinning foot (but don't lean over either!)
- Keep that head up!

I also spent quite a bit of time (I'm a lying liar who lies —I still do it >\\\\<) going into my toepicks at first. You want to keep your weight in the ball of your foot, which is the sweetest spot for turning. Practice finding it. It's the spot that makes the least sound when you turn in the ice.
Get first a good two foot spin and then you try getting that feet up for balance (or learn the entrance to the one foot spin).

Good luck. Be very very careful when learning new moves or you'll get vices —and that takes twice as long to unlearn, I'm talking from experience.

Mussique, Thank you so much! I'm quite appreciative of your lengthy and in depth response (*cough* instead of shutting me down)(but no salt I get it can be very dangerous it's all good). I think I am going to see if lessons are possible as a christmas gift. Unfortunately the less pricey group lessons won't work for me as I had quite a bad experience with the one I went to in the past and at this point I don't think I could do something like that again. So I'll hope for the best with private lessons! But if that doesn't happen, I will continue with my public sessions and try filming myself and comparing to tutorial videos :) And I'll be sure to keep in mind those points for spinning!!

Thank you again! :> (and,, sorry to be confusing I already posted this but I wanted to make sure you actually saw it lol so I added the quote thing and I don't know how to get rid of the old one haha)
 

VegMom

On the Ice
Joined
Aug 25, 2017
What are your goals?
Have you taught yourself other sports in the past (like skateboarding)?
Are you willing and able to use the resources available?
Have you heard about or seen the movement that's called Freestyle Ice Skating - (not figure skating freestyle) that uses hockey skates to do a sort of hip hop ice dance and tricks? https://mpora.com/outsiders/freestyle-ice-skate

Personally, I think if your goals are just to have fun and learn a few tricks - and you have the right personality for it - then you can teach yourself. If you want to learn things correctly and if you want to compete in figure skating then you absolutely need a coach.

Regardless of whether you use a coach or take group lessons or not, you can learn more quickly if you utilize all the resources available:
- There are a number of books on figure skating
- Tons of YouTube videos (some better than others)
- Apps like iCoach to video your skating and send it to a coach for feedback
- Friends on the ice around your level can help each other
- Do off-ice training to improve balance, flexibility, and improve stamina

One of the things about figure skating that is different from similar sports is that the culture of figure skating is VERY regimented. This is why you have all these people telling you that you must have a coach. No one would say 'you must have a coach' in skateboarding or snowboarding or inline skating or Freestyle ice skating or dance. These other similar sports are more about being creative and having fun. It's true that you will not progress as quickly without a coach. And it's true that your long-term options are much more limited without a coach. It's also true that a good coach can help prevent injury. For safety it's important to learn some basics from a pro but after that you can play around. What you do with a pair of skates and a sheet of ice is UP TO YOU. (Just obviously, follow the rules of the rink.)
 

cl2

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 9, 2014
What are your goals?
Have you taught yourself other sports in the past (like skateboarding)?
Are you willing and able to use the resources available?
Have you heard about or seen the movement that's called Freestyle Ice Skating - (not figure skating freestyle) that uses hockey skates to do a sort of hip hop ice dance and tricks? https://mpora.com/outsiders/freestyle-ice-skate

Personally, I think if your goals are just to have fun and learn a few tricks - and you have the right personality for it - then you can teach yourself. If you want to learn things correctly and if you want to compete in figure skating then you absolutely need a coach.

Regardless of whether you use a coach or take group lessons or not, you can learn more quickly if you utilize all the resources available:
- There are a number of books on figure skating
- Tons of YouTube videos (some better than others)
- Apps like iCoach to video your skating and send it to a coach for feedback
- Friends on the ice around your level can help each other
- Do off-ice training to improve balance, flexibility, and improve stamina

One of the things about figure skating that is different from similar sports is that the culture of figure skating is VERY regimented. This is why you have all these people telling you that you must have a coach. No one would say 'you must have a coach' in skateboarding or snowboarding or inline skating or Freestyle ice skating or dance. These other similar sports are more about being creative and having fun. It's true that you will not progress as quickly without a coach. And it's true that your long-term options are much more limited without a coach. It's also true that a good coach can help prevent injury. For safety it's important to learn some basics from a pro but after that you can play around. What you do with a pair of skates and a sheet of ice is UP TO YOU. (Just obviously, follow the rules of the rink.)

I think there is a lot of truth in what you're saying about FS community being very stuffy about learning a certain esoteric technique in a certain way. (To be fair, I'm stuffy that way too, and I definitely want to master the "figure skating" school of skating.)

And if that is not the OP's goal, then by all means don't follow that school.

However, OP did mention following the USFS basic skills curriculum, which leads me to think that OP does indeed want to learn the "figure skating" school of skating, not the hockey style or freestyle ice skating or whatever other schools of skating. In which case, I agree with the other stuffy posters that it's best to have a coach, because it is not easy to self-teach the correct technique.
 

jf12

Final Flight
Joined
Dec 8, 2016
Mussique, Thank you so much! I'm quite appreciative of your lengthy and in depth response (*cough* instead of shutting me down)(but no salt I get it can be very dangerous it's all good). I think I am going to see if lessons are possible as a christmas gift. Unfortunately the less pricey group lessons won't work for me as I had quite a bad experience with the one I went to in the past and at this point I don't think I could do something like that again. So I'll hope for the best with private lessons! But if that doesn't happen, I will continue with my public sessions and try filming myself and comparing to tutorial videos :) And I'll be sure to keep in mind those points for spinning!!

Thank you again! :> (and,, sorry to be confusing I already posted this but I wanted to make sure you actually saw it lol so I added the quote thing and I don't know how to get rid of the old one haha)
You know that group lessons often have a lot of turnover in coaches where they switch around the levels they take - it’s very likely that if you took another group class it would be a different coach and different group of students than the last time. Why not give it another try?
 

treesprite

Final Flight
Joined
Feb 16, 2010
An option for privates no one has mentioned, is taking lessons that are only 15 minutes. I have a tight budget and let the coach decide if I should do more lessons that are short, or less frequent lessons that are longer, and she chose more frequent lessons that are short. A lot can be done in a well-planned 15 minute lessons, believe me. Every minute is worth the money it costs.
 

treesprite

Final Flight
Joined
Feb 16, 2010
Could we please not carry other people's differences of opinions from other topics into this thread? It is rude to the OP of this thread.

There are lots and lots of people on public sessions who can barely get across the ice, who do two foot spins and hops, sometimes even turning while hoping. They DO tend to fall more often, because they haven't developed good balance and have no clue what the body mechanics are behind the things they are trying to do. They think it's fun and cool. As a guard, when I see them fall while pretending to be figure skaters, I suggest that they sign up for lessons so they can learn those tricks without getting hurt.

There is one person I know, who is maybe 30-ish years old, who has been self teaching for several years, who has never had a single formal group or private lessons, but does ask other skaters to show her things, and uses internet videos. She can properly execute the single jumps except for flip and Lutz, but hasn't tried those yet. She struggles more with learning scratch spin. She is very well focused when she skates, and actually does appear as if she has taken real lessons, even though she says she has not. She is the only person I have known who is focused enough and pays enough attention to detail, to the extent that she looks like someone who has a coach. I believe most people would not be able to teach themselves the way she has been able to do.
 

Mussique

On the Ice
Joined
Aug 30, 2017
First of all, I'm glad I could be of some help! Feel free to pm me with further inquiries if you have them.

Could we please not carry other people's differences of opinions from other topics into this thread? It is rude to the OP of this thread.

Very true, even if it's true self-teaching really has more risk of injury. But that thread mentioned is a can of worms we don't really want to open here...
------

As you can see, there are many different advices in the forum. Some of the differences come from the backgrounds we have.

The more professional, and thus the more time spent training the more they/we know and are going to insist in the importance of the coach :biggrin: But since you already know it:
--What treesprite said about 15 minute lessons would be interesting. They don't offer them (as far as I know) in my rink (maybe it's something that can be arranged?), but ask around yours.

--About freestyle... I didn't get the impression that OP wanted to do it.
And:
There is one big difference (well, more than one, but let's start with this) between "that" kind of sports —such as skateboarding and snowboarding— and figure skating; is that it's not about doing cool tricks. It incorporates posture elements and mixing them with an artistic sense.
I'd disagree strongly if someone told me ballet could be self taught (well, maybe some basic movements, but being in pointe or any further training really would request supervision).
A hockey player can have very good turns, but they don't do them the "figure skating" way.

(It's not about having some useless ethereal technique thing, btw, figure skating is all about effectiveness in the movements and how to use every ounce of your body in helping what you want to do. In not letting any energy from any push go to waste. And when this works, it's such an incredible sensation!)

Most of us (counting myself here) don't have ingrained the kind of body awareness this sport needs.
This means that you can have the theory all in your head (chin up, shoulders level, nice line, free leg straight behind, nice knee bend) but you're not actually doing it. Thus you need a second pair of eyes, or a camera (who lacks the experience) and much patience.
In this aspect I feel like training off ice some moves in front of a large mirror helps me —not as something that would obviously substitute the ice but it complements it nicely.

This post isn't meant to demean freestyle ice skating, from what I see at my rink it can be really fun and rewarding too, so if that's something the OP is interested in then that's cool. But it's not the same thing at all. Also, the best freestylers I know do have some training as well...
 
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