Getting Started: What to wear to that first lesson

Your Olympic hopeful is taking to the ice for the very first time! Hooray!

Will they be expected to wear a sparkling skating dress with matching scrunchy? Or full hockey pads? Not yet. That all comes too soon. For now a helmet, warm jacket, water-proof mittens, socks, and snow pants will do you just fine. As with all activities, we do what we need to do to keep SkaterGirl’s hair out of her face.


From the Plymouth (MN) Skate School website :

  • Beginning levels are required to wear helmets.
  • Skaters will benefit more from a lesson while wearing proper skates. We prefer boots be of leather rather than vinyl, and they should have strong ankle support. Blades should be of high tempered steel and properly sharpened. Double runners are not allowed.
  • It is important that all skaters are warm and comfortable while skating. We suggest dressing in layers and request all skaters to wear mittens or gloves.
  • No shoes allowed on the ice.


Beginner Skate School Class


We got by with a properly fitted bicycle helmet. Of course a winter sports helmet would be great.


Kiddo’s going to want skates with a sharp blade and really supportive comfortably-fitted boot. Not the adjustable skates or the ones with double blades. Those are fine on a pond in the backyard, but we’re paying for lessons here. Let’s get our money’s worth!

Rent Skates

Most rinks rent skates. Maybe a good place to start for two reasons:

  1. What if they get on the ice and realize it’s waaayyy harder than it looks on TV and decide right then and there that skating is a silly sport anyway and their new dream is to play soccer in the World Cup. Then you’re just out the $3 rental.
  2. If they decide they want to pursue skating, you’ll have the chance to try the skates and figure out which size is best before you commit to buying a pair. It also gives you the time to look for good used skates to buy.

Buy Skates

If/when you’re ready to own skates, I highly(!) suggest looking for used ones first. Ask around at the rink first and do a little googling. Kids are constantly outgrowing their skates. Look for a reputable brand that makes beginner skates, like Riedell or Jackson. We had really good luck at the Play It Again Sports in Minnetonka, MN. We found used Riedell skates for $20! Maybe you have a re-sell place like that near you? If not, check out this Facebook group (please tell me if you know of any in other countries as well):  Figure Skating Swap – USA (National)

Next time: Expectations for Beginners

Kiddo wants to learn to skate: After the Winter Olympics


Your kiddo watched the winter Olympics with great interest, and is now inspired to become a world-class ice skater. Welcome to the club!


You, yourself, are not a one-time Olympic skater, nor has your child ever had skates on their feet. You don’t quite know where to start.

Group Lessons!

I’ve heard coaches say that kids really won’t get any further in the very beginning stages of learning to skate with private lessons than they will in a group lesson. And in fact, they often do better seeing that other kids are having the same challenges as they are. So go with the group option – it may be your last inexpensive choice! *kidding, not kidding*

My SkaterGirl watched the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics carefully, spinning and jumping in the living room as the Senior Ladies spun and jumped on TV. I believe it was during Gracie Gold’s “Sleeping Beauty” program that my 3 year-old SkaterGirl turned to me with stars in her eyes saying, “Mommy, it’s my dweam to be an ice skatewr!” (she didn’t get her “r”s quite right for another several months)

I remembered seeing the words “Skate School” in the local Parks & Rec winter/spring catalog. As soon as she was old enough (age 4 in this case), I tried to sign her up. The morning that parks & rec Fall registration opened, I made coffee and went online to sign my daughter up for her dream… Oops! The classes were already full. Registration had opened at midnight. Dweam deferred. For the following session registration, I was at my computer at 11:55pm, ready to go for my successful midnight registration. Step 1 (of 1,000,000,000) done! Dweam on!

Lessons learned:

  1. Similar to swimming lessons in the summer, beginning levels of skate classes tend to fill up quickly. Particularly the most desirable dates/times in the colder month sessions, and probably especially following the winter Olympics.
  2. Find out in advance what you will need to register for classes. You may be required to sign-up with the skate school before you’re allowed to register for classes.
  3. Be sure you know what time the online registration will “go live”, and then get there several minutes early.

I’d love to hear your first-time registration stories. Thanks for sharing them in the comments!

Next time: What to wear to that first lesson