Why Do We Skate Counterclockwise?

There’s no scientific explanation for why we skate counterclockwise, only goofy speculation and weird theories. But here are plausible explanations for why skating rinks go counterclockwise: rinks are designed to prompt this behavior, rink management normally requires skaters to turn to the left, most humans are right-handed, and the heart is on the left side so we turn to the left to balance out this minimally extra weight.

5 Probable Reasons Skate Rinks Go Counterclockwise

1.Rinks are designed to make skating to the left more likely than going in the reverse direction.

2.According to one goofy theory, it’s because human hearts are found on the left side, which makes the left side of the body slightly heavier. Being heavier on the left side in turn nudges skaters to skate to the left.

This seems like a plausible explanation, but it’s just what it is, a theory trying to explain something akin to a global mystery.

3.About 90 percent of the inhabitants of the planet Earth are right-handed. This static applies to the entire human race, including ice skaters, inline skaters, and roller skaters.

I believe righthandedness is one of the reasons skaters find it naturally easier to circle the ice or roll on hard rink floors to the left. In other words, skating counterclockwise is simply a natural tendency.

4.Skaters of all stripes have been skating to the left, and new skaters follow this tradition without question. I mean, traditions are a societal institution everywhere, and those who don’t respect them are frowned upon.

For most skaters, it’s easier to just follow this rule and have fun. That’s probably why people at skate discos as well as outdoor skating rinks glide to the left.

5.In running, cycling, horse racing, dog racing, and pretty much all games played on a track, participants go to the left. Heck, even ancient Roman Empire chariots raced to the left. And even toilet bowls run counterclockwise.

So why not skating? We’re a part of the global sporting world, and I bet we’ve been influenced by other sports.

But I’ve found that some roller skaters and ice skaters feel that we should be skating to the right some of the time. I’ll now tell you who these folks are…

Lefties Are Likely to Skate to the Right

Have you been to a skating event such as roller dancing and 2 or 3 skaters tore away from the left-going traffic and moved to the center?

I suspect these guys and girls are lefties. I have no solid data that they are, but many I’ve seen skating clockwise turned out to be lefties.

And this to me makes perfect sense. If right-handers have a natural tendency to go to the left, lefties would have a natural inclination to skate in the other direction.

Do All Skate Rinks Favor Skating Counterclockwise?

Yes, every skating rink I’ve ever been to had people skaters circling the arena counterclockwise. Reviewing the rules of the overwhelming majority of rinks reveals that turning clockwise isn’t allowed.


You Can Actually Skate Clockwise at Most Rinks

Trust a Libra to stir up controversy where none exists ha. But in all seriousness, you can skate clockwise in most skate rinks if you ask the DJ.

How do I know this to be true? Because I do it all the freaking time. And I’ve never once been refused.

I’ve even asked the floor guard once or twice to relay my request to the DJ, who obliged each time.

Ask, and the DJ will make an announcement and have everyone skate to the right for the next 1-4 songs.

I’m pretty sure we’d have more and more clockwise jam sessions if we asked. After all, it’s we skaters who keep rinks in business.

Yes. Auto racing in the UK (with the exception of Speedway), Australia, Europe, and pretty much everywhere else goes clockwise. But in the US NASCAR racing happens the other way around.

Are There Races That Run Clockwise?

I suppose US auto races (think Formula 1, Grand Prix, and MotoGP) go to the left because the US has always shown rebellion against everything British.

Besides, the steering wheel in the US is on the left side of the vehicle, so racing to the right feels more natural.


Skate rinks go to the left mostly because that’s how we’ve always done it. In most track-based sports participants go counterclockwise, and it surprises no one that speed skaters and all other skaters revolve to the left.

Theorists posit that people often turn counterclockwise because of being right-handed and having the heart located on the left side of the body.

In the final analysis, no one knows for sure why we skate counterclockwise. But at least you now know you can ask the DJ to announce that folks go right for a song or two. Happy skating!