How to Ice Skate Backwards

Three Methods:Skating BackwardsLearning the "C" CutChanging Direction with Crossovers

Skating backwards is essential for figure skaters and hockey players, but it is also useful for anyone who wants to feel relaxed on the ice. While skating in reverse is not a difficult, comfortable balance, speed, and turning all takes some practice. While you will likely fall in the beginning, keep working on your form to be ice skating backwards in no time.

Method 1
Skating Backwards

  1. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 1
    Point your toes inward and make curves with your skates to move backwards. The basic idea of skating backwards is easy – you push the outsides of your skates forward and out, curve them back to the center of your body and repeat. If your skates could draw on the ice they would paint curvy waves, like a child's drawing of the ocean, across the surface.
    • Think of each skate making an “S” shape as you move backwards
  2. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 2
    Bend your knees. You cannot skate backward if you are standing up straight. Bend your knees slightly so that your butt drops closer to the ice. Your torso should be upright like you were sitting in a chair.
    • As you get better at it, you should be able to lift up each skate and put it back down comfortably, but at first it's to keep them on the ice.
    • It is easiest to use the wall or a hockey stick for balance as you start out.
  3. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 3
    Keep your skates shoulder-width apart. Your skates will be pointing directly ahead of you and your shoulders in a straight line over your ankles. This is your "center" as you skate backwards. With your skates shoulder-width apart, you have the power and strength needed Hold onto the wall with both hands for balance.
  4. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 4
    Push off a wall to start moving backwards. Focus on keeping your knees bent and back straight as you get used to moving backwards. If it is more comfortable for you, lean on a hockey stick for stability.
    • If you don't have a hockey stick, rest your hands on your knees.
  5. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 5
    Angle your toes inward as you glide backwards. Slowly turn your toes to face each other and you’ll feel your feet start to separate as your skates move outward. Think of skating backwards as leading with your heels -- as you toes turn inward, you heels turn out to your left and right, and the rest of your skate follows.
    • This does not need to be a big angle. Even slightly angling your feet will work.
    • This is the beginning of your "S" shape.
  6. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 6
    Angle your heels inward as your legs split apart. This is usually where people feel the most uncomfortable -- your legs are splitting apart, and they will keep moving apart as long as your toes are pointing in. Turn your skates to so that your heels point back towards your body. As you do you will feel your legs coming back together.
    • Again, this does not need to be a large angle. Just turn your feet enough so that you feel your legs gliding back together.
  7. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 7
    Use the muscles in your inner leg to pull your feet back to the center of your body. With your heels turned back to the center, use your groin muscles to bring your skates back to the middle. While you will not actually bring them this close, imagine you are trying to click your heels together.
    • This is the middle point of your "S."
    • Focus on keeping your knees bent – this will help you with the power and flexibility needed to control your skates.
  8. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 8
    Curve your feet back to the outside. When you reach your starting position, feet roughly shoulder-width apart, it's time to repeat your curve. Turn your feet so that your toes face inward again, then let them start to glide back out to the side. Pull them in again and repeat -- these are the "S" shaped curves that you need to make.
  9. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 9
    Keep your weight over your feet. One of the most common mistakes people make is leaning too far forward, with their body over their toes. Focus on keeping your athletic stance the entire time. A good tip is to put your hands on your knees, using them to support you and prevent you from leaning forward.
  10. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 10
    Keep making “S” curves to move backwards smoothly. The “S” curve is the simplest way to move backwards on skates. Once you have some momentum, just keep repeating the “S” shape to skate backwards, working on transitioning smoothly through each part.
    • Start along the wall – knees bent and back straight.
    • Push off the wall to gain some momentum.
    • Turn your toes in and move your feet apart.
    • Pull your legs back together by turning your toes out and pulling in.
    • Turn your toes to the center again as your feet approach each other.
    • Repeat to skate backwards.

Method 2
Learning the "C" Cut

  1. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 11
    Use the “C” cut to skate backwards quickly. The “C” cut, named because your skates make small C shapes in the ice, is the most common way to skate backwards with speed. Your knees are bent and your torso is upright as you alternate pushing your skates out and then arcing them smoothly back in.
    • Stay near a wall or lean on a hockey stick to help with your balance as you start to practice.
  2. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 12
    Bend your knees into an athletic position. Comfortably bend your knees so that you can quickly move your feet. It is difficult to spring into action with your legs straight. You should be able to easily lift you skates and balance. For a good athletic stance:
    • Knees bent.
    • Torso upright, not slouching.
    • Back straight.
    • Shoulders relaxed.[1]
  3. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 13
    Face forward with your skates shoulder-width apart. Point your skates in front of you, keeping them roughly shoulder-width apart so that your can balance and skate comfortably.
  4. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 14
    Take small steps backwards. Shuffle your feet as if you were slowly backing away from something. Think of pushing yourself back with each little step, building backwards momentum.
    • You can also push off of a wall to get started.
  5. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 15
    Point your toes inward. As you’re shuffling backwards, point the tips of your skates slightly towards each other. You should start to naturally move backwards faster.
  6. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 16
    Push to the right with your right foot. With your toes facing inwards, push out and away from your body. This is the top half of the “C” shape. Push from the middle of your blade as if you were trying to sweep something off of the floor with your skate.
  7. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 17
    Pull your right heel back to the center. Bring your skate back to the center of your body by leading with your heel. After pushing out and to the side, turn your heel to face your left foot.Your toes will turn to face forward as you return, completing the "C" shape.
    • Your foot should return to where it started, with both skates facing forward.
  8. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 18
    Straighten your right skate. Once you've finished the "C," turn your right skate so it faces forward, returning to it's starting position.
  9. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 19
    Push forward and to the left with your left foot. As you return your right foot to the center, start the "C" shape with the opposite foot by pushing it out and forward. Circle it back around to center and repeat, alternating each foot to gain momentum.
  10. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 20
    Bring it all together with quick, powerful cuts. Skating backwards quickly is crucial for figure skaters and hockey players, so you need to practice all of the steps together to learn a smooth, speedy motion.
    • Start in a strong stance – knees bent, torso upright, feet facing forward.
    • Point one toe in as you begin to push.
    • Push forward and out with your skate, using the other foot for balance.
    • Curve your foot back to the center in the shape of a C
    • Repeat with the opposite foot.
    • Alternate feet quickly to build speed.

Method 3
Changing Direction with Crossovers

  1. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 21
    Use crossovers to change direction while skating backwards. Crossover steps are a simple way to move around. You simply cross one foot over the other, letting your momentum continue moving you backwards.
    • For this explanation, all of the examples will be to move ‘’’right.’’’ To move left, simply switch the feet in the directions.
  2. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 22
    Stand up straight, knees slightly bent. Crossovers can be done moving forward or backwards, but to practice you should start from a standstill.
  3. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 23
    Bring your left foot up and over your right foot. Set your skate down on the ice with your legs crossed at the knee.
    • You should look a little like a young kid who needs to go the bathroom.
  4. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 24
    Bring your right foot behind your left calf. Uncross your legs by bringing your right foot around the back of the left and setting it down on the ice. You should be back to your original standing position.
  5. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 25
    Repeat this crossover motion to move horizontally. Keep crossing over to move laterally across the ice.
    • Try a few in reverse if you are comfortable, putting your left leg behind your right before bringing the right foot over the left.
  6. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 26
    Start gliding backwards. You can push off the wall, make perfect “S” shapes, or speed along with “C” cuts. Gain some momentum and then relax, gliding backwards.
  7. Image titled Ice Skate Backwards Step 27
    Preform a crossover to change directions. As you move backwards, cross your left leg over your body then quickly uncross your legs with your right foot. When done correctly, you should shift horizontally while maintaining backwards momentum.
    • Think of the motion you make if when you start running to your right. Your left leg takes a step to the right and then your right leg quickly follows.
    • Practice Drill: Do two "C" cuts, one with each leg, and then one crossover. Do two more cuts, then a crossover the other direction.
    • ’’’Practice Drill:’’’ Skate backwards around the edge of the rink, and use crossovers to change direction in the corners. Skate both clockwise and counter-clockwise to practice both directions.


  • Always keep your knees bent as you skate.
  • Don't just jump to the first step to the third, be patient until you got the hang of it.
  • Start against the wall, using it to keep your balance as you learn.


  • Make sure you have plenty of space to practice -- it is difficult to turn and stop when you first begin and this can lead to dangerous crashes.

Article Info

Categories: Ice and Figure Skating