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First Day of Class


We’re going to let you in on a little secret. The first time you skate—you’re going to fall. We all fall. Olympic medalists have fallen, hundreds of times. Thousands even. The best part, everyone gets right back up better than ever. Anything is possible on your first day, but you can be ready for it. Prepare yourself with this guide for whatever expected and unexpected happens. You’ll feel comfortable. You’ll have safety in mind. And you’ll have more fun knowing you’re comfortable and safe.

Your first day will then be a fantastic day. Just like the hundreds coming after it.

Arrive early, show up 30 minutes before class kicks off. Check-in at the registration desk and then pick up skates at the rental counter (if needed).

Wear the right skating attire.

Skaters should wear warm athletic-type clothing, long thin socks, gloves, mask, and a helmet on the ice.

Clothing comfort and the ability to move about freely is an absolute must for new skaters. Plenty of layers along with a jacket should be worn. While it’s easy to assume it’s warmer indoors, arenas do keep thermostats set at a brisk 50 degrees. Sweatpants or warm-up pants are better than bulkier snow pants. Skaters should discard layers as they get warmer.

We recommend that all beginner skaters start in figure skates whether their ultimate skating goal is to play hockey or figure skate. For prospective hockey players, once the skater has completed the beginner levels of Learn to Skate and has established their balance on the ice, then you would switch to hockey skates.

All of the required skating gear can be purchased at Skate Pro located in the lobby of the Staten Island Skating Pavilion. Appointments are needed for skate fittings. Please contact them directly at 540 -520-8160 or

Safety Helmets

All beginning skaters should wear them. The Consumer Products Safety Commission offers guidelines regarding different activities. Some recommended helmets: ASTM F1447; Snell B-90A, B-95, N-94. Check the fine print for certifications. We do allow hockey, bike, and ski helmets to be worn.


 • Make sure the helmet fits comfortably and snugly.

• Wear the helmet low in front to protect the forehead.

 • Keep it level and immobile. Avoid tilting back or pulling low.

 • Secure chinstrap buckle. Check the adjustment often for protection, in case of a fall or collision.

• Replace your helmet immediately if signs of damage are visible.

• Have the skater present during helmet purchase to test and ensure a good fit.


 • Wear anything under the helmet.

• Attach anything to the helmet.

• Wear a helmet that does not fit or cannot be adjusted properly.

 • Leave a helmet in direct sunlight or in a car on a sunny day.

Lacing skates

First tap the heel way back into the boot. Gently pull the tongue up and secure it straight up and down before tucking it beside the foot. Pull the second or third sets of laces from the bottom tightly to close the boot well over the front of the foot. Laces should be snug through the ankle area and bottom two sets of hooks. The top two hooks can be looser to keep the ankle flexible. Cross extra laces over hooks neatly. Avoid winding it around the skates as loose flying bows often lead to accidents. Now test it. Stick a finger between the back of the boot and leg to show skates were well laced. If the skate hurts or feels uncomfortable, relace and adjust. Practice walking in skates before entering the ice.

Recognize class and session expectations

Group classes are great for building a solid foundation for developing skills. There are no shortcuts or fast tracks. Parents can observe classes of all levels, skills, and ages from the stands or designated areas. You should avoid standing in doorways to the ice. For beginners, marching across the ice is the first skill taught. Some skaters push and glide with ease. Others will play the cautious card by taking baby steps, and that’s good. Learning to fall and stand right back up will also take precedence. Instructors will spend several minutes on day one perfecting this skill. After session one, most beginning skaters should gain confidence and demonstrate the ability to skate reasonably well on their own, get up from falling, attempting to stop while moving slowly, and navigate a public session well. Repeating a level is not unusual for skaters. All skills need to ladder up to one another in order to move skaters up the next level, so mastering skills first is necessary. 

Set up supplemental private or semi-private lessons

For those seeking more attention, you may hire a coach for a private or semi-private lesson. A booster lesson may be a good thing if assistance is needed to master a specific skill. If interested, inquire about private lessons with the skating director.

Set up extra practice time

Practicing is the road to improvement. After each lesson, skaters should practice the skills taught at least once. Use public skating sessions or supervised free skate practice during their weekly lesson. Obtain a list of things to practice from the instructor, or bring a record book to write down what needs improvement.