6 Tips for Learning to Roller Skate
Roller skating sometimes gets pegged as an activity that’s dedicated only to kids. From 8-year-old birthday parties to youth group nights, it can feel like starting out on skates when you’ve passed the era of pep rallies is totally pointless. But roller skating actually started out as an adults’ sport, and if you travel outside the United States, you’ll see that it still holds true to its roots. If you’re learning how to roller skate as an adult, here are a few tips to help you through the process.
Get the Right Gear
Sure, this isn’t football. But football doesn’t take place on concrete. You’re going to fall down a lot — it’s better to just accept it. So do yourself a favor and get yourself a quality set of protective gear, including a helmet, kneepads, elbow pads and wrist guards. You could also invest in padded shorts, but these are more optional. That first time you take a dive on the rough asphalt, you’ll thank your former self.
Fall … and Then Fall Again
If we haven’t emphasized this enough: you will fall down. Once you have your skates and protective gear, practice falling down on carpet. Not only will it help you get used to the feeling, but it will also give you the opportunity to practice some strategies to reduce your chance of being injured. Pro tip(s): when falling forward, fall onto your knees; when falling backward, clench your glutes to protect your tailbone.
Own Your Stance
Just like anything, learning to stand on your skates takes practice. But the most important thing to remember is to keep your knees bent. The lower your center of gravity, the easier it will be to stay balanced: keep your feet shoulder width apart and crouch with your knees above your toes. As you learn to pick up speed, tuck your elbows in close to your sides.
Stopping is your most important safety skill when you’re on roller skates. But there are a few different ways you can go about this. One way to stop yourself on skates is by spreading your legs out wide, then squeezing them together using your inner thigh muscles. This takes a lot of leg muscle, but there’s a reason derby girls have insane lower body strength. The other option is the T-stop, which consists of gently placing your back foot at a 90-degree angle and increasing pressure slowly. This one takes a little more skill, so give yourself grace while learning it.
As a beginner, any little crack in the pebble in the road can make you fall. You’re ultra-sensitive to debris, so find an area that’s extremely smooth when you’re just starting out. That might be a basketball court if you’re outside or a roller rink if you want to practice indoors. Bring a friend with you and get very comfortable skating on smooth surfaces before you take on the rough boardwalk by the beach.
Train Your Vision
If you’ve ever played baseball, you’ll understand why this is important. Where your eyes go, that’s where you’ll go. Don’t stare at that rock in the road — you’ll end up rolling straight into it. Don’t focus on the skateboarder coming the other direction — you’ll skate directly into them. Learn to look where you want to go and skating will become a much easier task.
- Outdoors Staff