Once you find your feet in inline skating and get accustomed to the sheer fun and excitement of the sport, getting up to speed is the next obvious inclination. So, you know the tactics, you have learned the basics, and probably practiced them for a while; what will be the next step to pick up more speed?
How to roller skate faster and still maintain the balance? Successful speed skaters have the tactical know-how, move with nimble feel, develop required muscular strength required by the body, and maintain speed.
You can practice balancing through various skillful but carefully planned exercises that will eventually help in maintaining balance when in speed. The article presents some pro tips to help you roller skate faster along with some exercises to help you improve balancing. So, how can you roller skate in speed?
Understand the Technique
Remember that nobody gets to learn skating overnight. Roller skating is a craft that requires patience and practice. Proceed with baby steps. Learn to walk before you run. Understand the basics so that you can apply them when moving in speed. You may be in the best shape and you may be a good runner on the Olympic track but without proper technique, you will never pick pace.
Once you have understood the basic concepts, the magic word to success is practice, over and over until it comes naturally. The more you practice, the better you will get with your skates. Carefully examine your moves, pay attention to your form, and learn all the tactics correctly. Remember to maintain a lower center of gravity. The right way to do this is to bend your knees, not your waist. Practice maintaining the squat position as if you are sitting in a chair.
Observe your stride. Make sure you skate in a straight. Ensure that your wheels touch the centerline before commencing each stroke. In case you find the opposite, your feet are either too far apart or you are not pushing harder enough. Corroborate that you push straight forward using your wheels and not your toes. Keeping a squat position by bending your knees may help you make an impactful stride.
Again, keep your posture correct. Your core including your belly, lower back, and middle of the body must stay tight. Generate more power to your stride by using your glutes or butt muscles. Swinging your arms to and fro can help you move faster and stay balanced.
Endurance plays an important role in a skill-oriented sports like roller skating, especially as the training programs proceed further with the next level of difficulties. Roller skating can be exhausting. Whenever you get tired, you are prone to lose your edge.
You must learn to push through the pain, not only physical but also mental. You can indeed experience mental pain during training sessions. With every new workout session, you must learn to push through that pain. It is natural to feel uncomfortable, but the idea is to get over it. Try to maintain consistency. Do not let fatigue disturb your cadence. It is extremely important to progress to the next level.
Focus on learning the drill to develop endurance. You can participate in the training groups or practice speed skating on your own. Either way, remember to invest in quality skates and give enough practice with patience to develop endurance. Push a little harder to set better benchmarks for yourself.
Nurture Strength and Agility
Roller skating involves the constant active participation of your core muscles and legs. Your body must have enough strength to go through the drill required by the sport. Strong muscles and legs will help in improving your skating skills. Various dryland or off skate exercises can help you develop the necessary strength.
Further, your body must have the required level of agility. You should be able to move your feet fast. You can be more agile by regular practice. Try different exercises such as moving between cones. You can also try skating upwards and downwards alternately to train your muscles to respond quickly.
Try keeping a balance on one skate while you stand still. Repeat with the other skate. Now, maintain your balance on one skate as you move forward. The foundation of skating lies in impeccable balancing skills [source]. Stride on one skate while gliding the other right behind. This will strengthen your leg muscles and develop endurance as well.
Maintain a squat position by slightly bending forward. This posture provides the necessary force to push forward and move faster. Try gliding with one skate when you pump the other. Keep your body straight, do not hunch, do not bend your chest or twist your shoulders. Use the lower body to move sideways. This will require less energy but generate more force to support better speed. Move your arms back and forth to support balance as you move fast.
Do not stride forward when your skates point directly in the direction of motion. This movement requires greater force and more energy. Remember to keep your skates pointing diagonal to your body and make a perpendicular stride with respect to the previous one to enhance your efficiency.
You can further increase your speed by flicking your heels in place of your toes every time you make a stride. However, you should try this motion only when you get a little acquainted with speed. Rest is all about practicing the stunts.
Learn to Stop Correctly
You may find the brakes at the back of your right skate. The reasons for the position of the brake are more scientific than you assume. The right leg is often considered as the power leg. Therefore, you can use the right leg to your advantage whenever you need to push the brakes.
How successfully you push the brakes depends on how forcefully you can apply the pressure with your right heel. The skate won’t stop if you cannot apply ample pressure on the brake with your heel. Practicing stopping is as equally important as balancing to avoid toppling over at high speed.
Ideally, the skater must glide keeping the knees bent and shoulders slightly forward. Keep your skates in parallel and as close as possible when you are gliding and about to stop. Slowly roll the right skate forward keeping the right heel ahead of the toe wheel of the left skate. Then, gently lift your right skate from the front wheel, pushing hard down on the heel brake.
What are the different types of stops [source] in skating? You can try following stopping techniques as you learn skating:
- T-Stop – For a T-Stop, a skater must glide for about 20-40 feet on a single leg. As you move forward, you drag the wheels of the other skate behind. The back skate stays perpendicular to the front skate at an angle of 90 degrees. This method is popularly termed as the T-Stop.
For a successful T-Stop, the skater should not lean back or use the rear skate for balancing. In this case, the rear skate serves as a parachute slowly dragging to a halt. You should often practice gliding on one leg and dragging the other foot perpendicular. Lean your body forward, keeping it parallel to the ground. This movement will eventually put you to a halt and you will not turn around when you put pressure on the wheels of the back skate.
- V-Stop – This stopping technique is often used when you push the brakes at a slow speed. In this braking technique, you use both skates forming a V shape when each of the skates faces forward or backward. The idea is to bring the skates in a position in which they are either converge onto each other or diverge from each other leading to slow down and an eventual halt.
Which exercises can help me improve balance and speed? Following exercises [source] can help you improve balance and speed:
- Sprinting – Try running on your skates to get an understanding of your balancing skills and how your skates respond when you apply pressure.
- Travel in a line – Try moving in a line keeping one foot forward in front of the other. Try switching the feet. This exercise will help improve balance when you perform stepovers. Take it to the next level by leaning side to side while you roll and prepare for the turns.
- Crossovers – In this exercise, you lift one foot over the other and sit back down. It will help in developing the required agility, endurance, and strength for balancing and speed.
- Obstacles – Anything that disrupts your smooth motion such as grass, potholes, cracked pavement serves as an obstacle in your otherwise flat passage. Practice overcoming these obstacles as you skate. You may find some sudden and sharp moves around them. Remember to wear your safety gear as some obstacles may take you by surprise and result in toppling over.
- Skating on one leg – Practice to maintain balance on one leg while you skate. This exercise will help you prevent a fall when you suddenly tremble. Start by dragging one foot behind while you maintain your body weight on the front foot. Once you are comfortable with this position, try lifting your leg behind the front feet.
- Staircase – It may sound tricky, but works wonders for your balancing skills and speed. You should learn to walk on stirs with your skates on. Try walking on the stairs without holding any safety rails. However, you can use them as a fail-safe mechanism during initial attempts.
Try moving upstairs first and then downwards. Move one step at a time keeping your skates sideways or try crossovers. Slightly kick every stair with the front of your skate as you move upwards to avoid sudden fall.
- Skating backward – Try skating backward on one leg and with your skates in line. You can also try moving backward on inclines, ramps, and stairs. Start with a flat surface first. Once you are comfortable, proceed with inclines. As you move backward or forward, try bending your knees and leaning forward to maintain balance. Watch your path to avoid people or obstacles.
- Spins – Maintain pace, lift one foot, turn it to 180-degrees, and put it back down. Create enough curve to allow a smooth turn with your feet. The sharper the curve, the faster the spin. You can start practicing it at a slow speed first.
- Skating on two wheels – In this exercise, you use the rear wheel of the front foot and the front wheel of the back foot and alternatively. Stay cautious with the brake mechanism. Do not tilt far enough to engage the brakes as you glide. Take enough time to practice and resolve any balancing issues with your skating techniques.