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-   -   3 year-old learning to skate...advice? (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showthread.php?t=420081)

iamcaper 09-18-2007 08:44 AM

3 year-old learning to skate...advice?
My little girl, turning 3 in October, is hounding me to teach her to skate so I went out and bought her the double-bladed training skates.

I learned on single blade skates at a later age so I'm not sure what's the best way to help her out without hurting her ankles or giving bad habits. Some people recommend pilons and chairs but I'd rather be on the ice holding her hands.

Anybody have any suggestions for a toddler of this age? Anything you've done that worked or didn't work?


Icer 09-18-2007 10:16 AM

DO NOT USE DOUBLE BLADED SKATES. They will just have to relearn everything once they switch to a single blade.

I've taught Learn to Skate for years and the best teaching aid you can use is a 5-gallon paint bucket. If you don't have one, you can buy them from Home Depot or Lowes for next to nothing. Turn it upside down and let the kid to push it around the ice. Once they get that down the transition to skating is easy. Most kids switch after 1-2 classes.

One other tip. Learn the phrase BEND YOUR KNEES! Use it often.

LilWinger11 09-18-2007 10:27 AM

Definitely ditch the double runners. They have no edges; all kids can do on them is inch forward, if that. Unless she wants to play hockey, I'd start out with figure skates as they're usually a bit easier for kids to start out on. The toe pick on the figure skate lets them "walk", which is what most beginners do initially, and the rounded front on a hockey skate will dump a kid forward onto the ice if they try that. Have her pick her feet up and down and march to move forward. The drawback with figure skates is that the cheap ones sold in sporting-goods stores have very little ankle support, but three- and four-year-olds don't need tons of ankle support because they just don't weigh much.

Puckboy 09-18-2007 10:39 AM

Listen to Icers advice and be patient. I see so many parents get frustrated that their 3 year old is not skating circles around others. It takes time for the kids to get used to the ice. Make sure they are having fun and not being forced, which it sounds like you are being pushed which is great. When my oldest son started he was miserable so we stopped. He told me he wanted to try agian and he picked it up real quick because it is what he wanted to do. Good luck and have fun

javorka 09-18-2007 11:27 AM


Originally Posted by Puckboy (Post 10448144)
....When my oldest son started he was miserable so we stopped. He told me he wanted to try agian and he picked it up real quick because it is what he wanted to do....

Same thing happened here. Since our older boy was already playing hockey, we were anxious for our younger one to get started, too. Tried getting him going a couple times, then realized he just wasn't ready. The following year we could barely get him off the ice without a fight, and now he's one of the strongest skaters in the area. In a nutshell - let your child decide when he/she is ready, even if it means quitting for a while.

(And no double blades!)

Hank19 09-18-2007 01:04 PM

I agree with everyone else, ditch the double blades.

What really worked well for my 4 year old boy was starting out by pushing around a pylon.

First the instructor would have him crawl around to get comfortable with the ice. Then have him crawl to the pylon to help him stand off, and then eventually to push around to get used to skating. When he got comfortable with that, she would have him push the pylon away. This requires quite a bit of coordination and balance so it's a great learning drill.

Once she gets comfortable, have her work on getting up without the pylon.

P.S. Give her elbow pads! My sons little elbows were black from all the bruises he took the first week. I felt really bad about that.

LilWinger11 09-18-2007 01:31 PM

I can't believe I forgot the most important thing- teach her how to fall down and get up! If she feels wobbly, like she might fall, have her bend her knees and stick her arms straight out to the front. That will hopefully steady her; if not, it gets her bottom closer to the ice to make the fall easier ;) Have her get used to falling on her bottom or hip, where there's some padding, rather than her knees, and she should try to tuck her chin to her chest to keep her head off the ice. (I'm sure she'll be wearing a helmet, but if she ever wants to figure skate or just skate for fun without a helmet, you want her to develop this habit now).

Most kids can figure out how to get up on their own, although at 3 and 4 y.o. they do sometimes need help for awhile. It's important that kids understand they have to get up quickly, especially if the ice is crowded, so that no one trips over them or skates over their fingers. When I have kids that young in my skating classes the first rule we go over is that when they fall, they need to either get right back up or ask for help in a nice big voice so I can hear them (like that's usually a problem for kids :biglaugh: )

And I'd second what the last poster said- if she doesn't like it, wait a few months and try again. At 3 y.o., some kids pick it up right away while others really can't even stand up without help (some kids are bothered by this, other are happy to let mom or dad haul them around the ice anyway- although mom or dad's back generally isn't real happy the next day ;) )

javorka 09-18-2007 02:27 PM

Also, have your child wear mitts - this prevents them from landing on their elbows if they fall and are trying to keep their bare hands off the ice.

McNasty 09-18-2007 02:40 PM

I don't have kids but I know the first thing my dad did was make sure I knew how to fall, and also that it's going to happen it's part of the learning. I was older then your daughter I was 5 at the time, never had double blades so idk but everyone else is saying to ditch them. As long as shes having fun she'll continue to pick it up because she obviously wants to learn how to skate.

newfish 09-18-2007 08:08 PM

Not sure how big her foot is, but if its small try double blades. If she has to use single blade take her to get lessons.

Ducks 09-18-2007 08:45 PM


Originally Posted by newfish (Post 10454768)
Not sure how big her foot is, but if its small try double blades. If she has to use single blade take her to get lessons.

I think everyone here agrees that kids shouldn't learn on double bladed skates.

UvBnDatsyuked 09-18-2007 08:57 PM

Great advice everyone.

Some advice that is not technical but was a huge help for son.

1. Find kids of similar ability and age to go with your daughter to public sessions. This makes it a ton more fun and seems to motivate and push the kids (to keep up). Kids seem to forget that they can't turn very well a certain way when they have to chase a friend who went that way.

2. My mother took two pairs of shorts and sewed between them a bunch of pillow padding she had from a fabric store. Didn't look too goofy since my son wore a big jersey. My son never once hurt his butt or hip from falling backwards. Someone came up at a public session and commented how my son would fall and get back up and never get discouraged. I showed him the padding and he said he was hitting the fabric store on his way home

newfish 09-18-2007 09:02 PM


Originally Posted by soapninja (Post 10455390)
I think everyone here agrees that kids shouldn't learn on double bladed skates.

Thats cool, but thats my opinion.

LilWinger11 09-18-2007 09:07 PM

Mouse pads make great padding, actually. I've had a couple of kids in my classes who would use a mouse pad stuck in their pants right over the tailbone. Even when I was figure skating competitively I would use them when I was learning new jumps and falling a lot. They're thin enough that they don't impede your movement at all, but they're dense enough to provide pretty good protection. Sounds weird, I know, but it works really well.

Redden Hogalot* 09-18-2007 10:26 PM

Get her on the ice as much as possible.

Phoenix 09-19-2007 12:33 AM

whats the earliest you can put a kid onto the ice? I have a niece along the way and I would love to get her into hockey, and I had all these ambitions (don't worry I'm not a pressure-yelling parent from the sidelines lol )that not long after she can walk (is that about 1yr?) I'd put her on the ice. :):)
So I admit, I have no idea about kids and their abilities, and even when it is they start walking. Having kids of my own will be a loooong time to come:)

Will stay away from those double-blades though now.

Icer 09-19-2007 09:58 AM


Originally Posted by Phoenix (Post 10459660)
whats the earliest you can put a kid onto the ice?

Here's how it works in my area...

Learn to Skate - 3 and up
Learn to Play - 4 and up

All students, regardless of age, are encouraged to take one of these classes first. If the kid is still interested, they are assigned by age. It's not uncommon to see hockey players in their first game by age 4. It's also not uncommon to see hockey players start at the squirt or pee wee level and develop just fine. Much older than that and they've got a lot of catching up to do.

Mini Mite - 6 and under
Mite - 8 and under
Squirt - 10 and under
Pee Wee - 12 and under
Bantam - 14 and under
Midget - 18 and under
Junior - 20 and under
Adult - 18 and over

Nbr-17 09-19-2007 10:56 AM

My son started when he was two. We started with some parent & tot classes. Then he started skating pushing a prop around the ice.

krax 09-19-2007 11:37 AM

Mine started at age 2 with normal hockey skates (rather cheap ones, not too hard). Played hockey in the kitchen with inline roller blades at 18 month.
Ice skating lessons pushing around pylons at 2.5, then starting ice-hockey at 3.5. Today he's 8.

Basically he needed no advice. I just made sure he'd wear proper protective equipment (did anybody mention a helmet?) and I tried not to buy too hard skates. Most skates you find on the market are mini-adult skates, not suited for kids, IMO.

Picture taken at age 7:


Nbr-17 09-19-2007 12:09 PM

Great picture. Why don't you tell us a bit more about him here: Where does your kid play ;)

LilWinger11 09-19-2007 12:14 PM

The youngest kid I've ever seen on the ice was 16 months, but he couldn't stand up by himself, let alone skate- Dad was pushing him around. He had an ear-to-ear grin, though.

The youngest skaters I've ever had skate by themselves at all for me were 2 1/2 (this was a one-on-one private lesson situation) and 2 yrs 10 months (in a class of threes and fours, but she had been skating a few times with her dad before signing up for lessons). If you have access to a parent-tot class that's really geared toward 2-4 y.o, those are great; otherwise I'd take her yourself. Most twos and even a lot of threes aren't quite ready to go off and do something new like skating with a complete stranger and no parent. A lot of rinks require skaters to be three, if not four, for regular learn-to-skate classes anyway.

I usually suggest to parents of very young skaters that if they don't skate well themselves they inquire about private lessons for their child. Having an adult who's a wobbly skater tryinig to hold up a wobbly toddler can be dangerous- I've seen parents come very close to falling on top of their small children- but even a few lessons can usually get a very young skater marching and gliding well enough that they don't need to hang on someone.

Jarick 09-19-2007 12:20 PM

Good lord that kid looks like a better skater than 90% of the adults I've seen.

FiveThreeEmptyNet 09-19-2007 10:55 PM


Originally Posted by krax (Post 10462206)
Picture taken at age 7:


Picture 9 of 10 is a beaut. Head up, puck on stick. Absolutely beautiful to see.

Phoenix 09-22-2007 01:17 AM


Good lord that kid looks like a better skater than 90% of the adults I've seen.
Oh man, tell me bout it. It must have taken me 10x as long to be able to strike a similar sort of pose! Damn i wish i started hockey at that age.

3yo?! OMG and here I was thinking at 1 1/2 years I could at least get some waddling on ice going. That's AGES away!

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