So, one of the things I want to do before I die is play hockey on a regular basis. But, before I do this.... I think learning how to skate, ON ICE!, will be good idea.
So, how does one go about doing this. Do lessons help? Should I just go out there and wing it? What did you do? Should I immediately practice with a stick? How good at skating do you need to be before playing? Where do you learn how to play hockey at a beginner level?
Hopefully, I want to start this week...and if it takes, I want to get a pair of skates of the birthday (April).
Pretty much just go out there and try it. You're gonna fall, you're gonna feel awkward, and your feet and/or back is gonna hurt, but there's no way to start skating and not go through this. Go to a few public sessions to get a feel for it. If you like it and think you can improve, drive down to Hockey Giant (Anaheim) or Hockey Monkey (Santa Ana) and get fitted for skates. Get them baked to help with the break-in time. Having your own skates means not having to rely on crappy rentals with blunt edges.
After that, then you can worry about lessons. I've never taken lessons, but I gurantee you it wouldn't be a bad idea. As for playing hockey, I'd recommend getting in on a pickup game. Even beginner leagues can be pretty competitive. Plus, leagues are for playing, not learning. You learn in practice, not during a real game.
As for what I did? Pretty much what I just said. I went with some friends to a few public sessions and tried to get some feeling for it. Then I just bit the bullet and played when they organized a pickup game. Yeah, I sucked, and still do to a degree, but if the pressure isn't on you to perform, then it makes learning a whole lot easier.
I've been skating for 4 or 5 years now and while I'm not a great skater, I skate well enough to handle myself out on the ice. It's all about practice. Good luck and welcome aboard!
Get skates around the $150 - $200 range. I say this because you can get a quality skate to learn on but also keep as you progress.
Just like Vishi said, go to public sessions but also stick time and pick up games. The best way to learn is just to get on the ice... experience it yourself, watch the better players, and pick up tips that way. Good luck man!