Rollerblading can offer you legit health benefits; be it for fitness or fun. The higher heart rate, improved cardio activity, and enhanced muscular stretch combine to create a complete core workout in rollerblading. No wonder, the thrill of rollerblading attracts many new skaters every year to join the drill. However, newbies are often skeptical about mastering the techniques. They come up with so many questions about the difficulty level, duration of learning, and so on.
So, is rollerblading hard to learn? Well, the answer depends on various factors. First, do you have prior experiences in a similar extreme sport such as roller skating, ice skating, sliding and gliding, and the like? Next, your age as a beginner may play some role in mastering the tricks. If you are a complete newbie to the art of rollerblading, you may experience a tough time mastering the basics. You may start slow, however, once you know the drill, rest is all about practicing your techniques.
Your muscles are more flexible and the body more adaptable at an early age. As you approach adulthood, you may require more input to strengthen and condition your muscles and develop endurance. For some adult beginners, learning to skate may seem to be a nightmare. With that said; the correct stance, righteous approach, appropriate exercise regimen for muscle build-up, and consistent practice can help you learn rollerblading in no time at any age, even without prior experience. The following pro tips may further ease out the process of learning rollerblading for beginners.
One notion that the beginners often have in their minds is that they just require a pair of skates to get started. Certainly, you require a good pair of rollerblades that snugly fit your feet and provide proper support to your ankles. But one thing that beginners often miss out to consider is the safety gear.
Properly gearing up is as important as buying the correct pair of skates. You may feel tempted to learn skating as early as possible and may hit the rink without any safety gear. But you will have to face the consequences that follow. First and foremost, you should get yourself a complete set of safety gear which includes a helmet, a pair of elbow pads, thick kneepads, and wrist guards. You can also include a mouth guard in your safety kit.
You should note that falling is an unavoidable and likely event when you learn rollerblading. The safety gear saves you in case of a nasty fall. Also, invest in padded shorts to avoid a painful back or straining tailbone.
Mastering the Fall
Learning to fall correctly is as important in rollerblading as learning to glide safely [source]. You should know how to fall safely to avoid any major injury or strained muscles. Beginners are often advised by the professionals to roller skate near a grassy land until they master the basics so that the grass can serve as a cushion when they fall.
The primary advice to all beginners is to put on their safety gear even before their roller skates. You can practice inside on a yoga mat or thick carpet until you learn the art of falling in rollerblading. To enact a knee fall, you can stand on a carpet keeping your feet shoulder-width apart, slightly bending your knees to ensure stability. Perform a front lunge gently resting your knees on the carpet. Then, stand up keeping your knees bent.
Repeat the drill dropping gently to one knee. Once you are comfortable, you can increase the difficulty by dropping to the knee and getting up without using your hands. Also, getting up correctly is important when you fall. Always stand up keeping your knees bent.
If you ever fall on your tush, try not to land directly on the spine to avoid a tailbone bruise, which may take months to heel. Always try to pick a side and fall on one cheek, clenching your glutes. Once you practice falling this way, your body will remember the drill in case of an actual backward fall. Further, train yourself to fall safely on the pads and never grab a peer skater.
Practicing Your Stance
As a beginner, you may fall many times. Maintaining a proper stance will help you learn to stay stable on your roller skates. A proper correct stance is essential to master the balancing skills in rollerblading. You can start your initial balancing lessons by learning to walk on your blades over a patch of grass or gravel. Grass provides adequate traction to keep your blades from rolling.
Further, you can practice your stance indoors on a carpet. For this, gently bend your knees and try to go as lower as you can. The lower, the better. You will notice that a thigh-screamingly low stance is often most stable in rollerblading. Keep your butt out so that your knees never slide past your toes to ensure safety. Maintain a lower and wider stance until you can skate comfortably.
Remember to keep your arms always in front and elbows tucked into the sides. This will help you maintain a low center of gravity and ensure proper weight balancing. Never move your arms out when you feel unsteady. Keep the arms in front and elbows close to the sides. Gently bend your knees and widen your stance to regain balance. It will either stabilize you or help you fall forward safely on your safety pads.
Getting Started on the Wheels
Once you have mastered the correct stance, you should look for a smooth, flat surface to practice rolling and gliding. It is essential to find a flat piece of ground devoid of debris and bumps. Any type of obstacles, even the smallest of pebbles, may make you fall quick as a beginner. Once you learn the basics and pick up speed, you can switch to the pavements and skate parks as well.
You can also look for an indoor skating rink in your neighborhood. You can also take the beginner’s lessons in lacrosse boxes, paved tracks, or tennis courts. Deserted parking lots also provide a good spot for skating but you should check them first for pebbles, leaves, and cracks. In any case, avoid places near traffic. Also, it is advisable to skate with an associate or friend until you are comfortable on skates.
Standing up on your skates for the very first time can be the most difficult part ever. A friend can help you learn to stand up and balance on your skates. Here are some more points to consider as a beginner to ease out the process of learning:
- Try to stand up on your feet by evenly distributing your weight over both skates. Stay still to maintain stability. You can ask your friend to gently pull you away and help you stand on your skates.
- When on the ground, learn to keep one foot in front and other foot behind you in a square position. Gently kneel on one knee pad, placing both your hands on the ground. Try to balance your weight evenly and gently bring the other foot forward as well. Try to stand slowly with your knees bent. Stay still for a while. Once you are comfortable you can try standing up by yourself without using your hands.
- A T-position helps beginners to prevent rolling when they are learning to stand still on the skates. For this, you need to turn one skate towards the side bracing it against the other at an angle of 90-degrees.
- The next step is to learn to fall on your knees safely. Once you understand the art of falling safely, you can start rolling on your wheels.
- Start slow and try to engage your quads for better balance.
- Keep your knees bent when you stop.
- Maintain a duck position, in the beginning, to get comfortable on the skates. In other words, keep your heels out and toes in to avoid rolling much. Start with tiny steps to get a feel of the skates. You can graduate to a proper form of skating when you are comfortable.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and gently push one foot out towards the side to move forward. Then, gradually bring it back to the center. Pushing to one side helps you propel forward in skating.
Once you learn to glide, the next step is to understand how to turn quickly avoiding obstacles to switch directions while skating. This turning may require parallel techniques wherein you maintain forward momentum and scissor your legs in the opposite direction to turn forward. For example, you scissor your right foot forward over left to turn in the left direction.
Gently bend the other leg as you swing the front leg back to its starting position after changing direction. Once you know how to stabilize while turning, you can speed up your turn by swinging and rotating your torso when you scissor your legs to change directions.
Learning the proper form from the very beginning helps you skate better over time. Start slow and keep practicing. Skate often to master the basics and understand the techniques. The more you practice, the sooner you will learn.
Learning to Have a Quick Stop
As a beginner, you may find it comfortable to hop every time on a patch of fresh grass to stop quickly. However, your rollerblades have rubber brakes at the back of one skate. All you need to do is to shift your weight on the skate without the stopper keeping your brake foot behind in a perpendicular position. Such a t-shape provides extra stability when you stop and avoids toppling over. Gently put pressure on the stoppers to apply brakes.
Beginners must practice the stopping stills on a clean, flat surface first. In case, your skates lack a heel brake; you can stop by applying pressure and dragging your back skate until you come to a halt. You should know that there are multiple stopping techniques in rollerblading such as the T-Stop, the Tomahawk Stop, and the Plow Stop. Some of these are more advanced moves that you will learn later in time.
In Plow Stop, you keep your toes pointing in and legs wide open. Gently squeeze your inner thighs to put pressure on your skates. Eventually, your skates will form a triangle helping you come to a halt. The idea is to aptly press your inner thighs so that you do not trip or end up sliding on your skates without slowing down. Practice Plow Stop to learn to stop securely with a stable stance. Learn to maintain balance as you stop. Try to regulate your speed.
In the T-Stop, you maintain your weight on a foot, keeping the other skate at an angle of 90-degrees behind you. Then, you gently drag the back foot until you gradually slow down, and eventually stop. Beginners may find the T-Stop to be a little tricky. Try other stopping techniques first to get comfortable moving on your skates.
You can practice stopping techniques initially without skates. For this, pick one foot and place it behind you. Maintain your weight on the front leg. Once comfortable, put on your skates and stand, still. Place one skate behind instep to heel.
Now, you can try T-stop while skating. For this, gently try rolling until the motion feels natural. Gradually pick one foot and place it behind the other so that all 4 wheels evenly touch the ground. Gently slow down by gradually increasing the pressure on the back foot but keeping your weight on the front foot.
Putting more weight on the back foot too fast may result in falling backward. Gently increase the pressure on the back foot to let the force of friction slow you down. A T-Stop can also help you to slow yourself down but continue skating. This stopping technique proves very useful when you are gliding with peer skaters.
Words of Caution for the Beginners
Many times, beginners make the process of learning rollerblading even more challenging when they do not follow guidelines. All the skaters must abide by certain rules and regulations when they skate outdoors. Further, there are proper safety guidelines and learning basics for the beginners that they should follow. The following are some words of caution for the beginners by the professionals in the field:
- Avoid skating in rains and never get your skates wet. If you do; moisture may cause the bearings in your skates rust and seize. If you ever have to skate through water, you can try hydroplaning.
- Do not go downhill when you are a beginner. You may not know how to stop at the very high speed going downhill on your skates and may end up crashing badly. Even the slightest slope can be scary for a beginner. Glide on flat ground until you are comfortable skating in speed. Stay extremely cautious not to roll down any kind of hill. Particularly avoid slopy areas near traffic.
- Always examine your skates before putting them on. With time, your skates may experience wear and tear. Toe stoppers may get loose and eventually fall off. Wheels can loosen. Your skates may not fit snugly over a period of time and so on. Give your skates a quick scan before you plan to roll. Develop a habit of checking your skates every time before rollerblading.
Learning rollerblading may seem stressful and tiring. Remember, rollerblading is an extreme sport that requires your body to have the desired stamina, muscular endurance, and core strength. You should indulge in a proper workout regimen involving both off-skate and on-skate exercises to develop the necessary physical strength and endurance required by the sport. Here are some things to consider as you get better in rollerblading.
- Learn to dance on your skates. Well, not literally. The idea is to move slowly and steadily. Never rush your learning process. All good things take time in getting better. Gently push out with one foot, maintain balance, keep the foot down, stay steady, and gradually push out the other foot. Keep going until it becomes second nature. Learn to transfer your weight swiftly as you move forward.
Over time, as you get better on your skates, you will experience that the skates have become light, and you can move your feet quickly by constantly shifting your weight with ease. When you stay light on your feet and move gently, you can shift naturally to your other foot when you hit an obstacle. Just remember to keep your feet moving. Learn to glide with tiny steps to avoid speed in the beginning.
- Learn to relax. Do not overcharge your head with the myths and folklores associated with the sport. Again, remember you are a beginner. You may receive all sorts of advice from people around you such as your peer skaters, professionals, and nerds of the sport. You should focus on one important advice that is to relax. Stay relaxed and look effortless.
Stay calm and confident. You may have a hard time convincing your mind that your feet will not commit anything stupid to make you fall and crush your tendons. This fear of fall is the greatest concern for many beginners. However, you cannot stay relaxed until you learn to overcome the fear of fall. Hours of practice on your skates and building skills over time will help you gain the confidence to earn the relaxation you require. Scan your body often for tense spots as you skate. Try to loosen them up and do not bludgeon any of them.
- Practice and learn. As you master the basics, you will find yourself being less concerned about your skates and stance. Your muscle memory will guide your moves eventually as you get better over time. You can practice skating indoors with some music on. This will help you get your mind off your feet and make the motion of skating more automatic.
- Watch the obstacles. Never look at or approach them directly. Remember the principle that wherever your eyes go your body follows. Staring at the obstacles may steer your motion right into them. Train your mind to always look away in the direction where you want to move. Turn your eyes in that direction and your body will glide accordingly. Train your eyes to watch for empty spots and never on the obstacles.
New skaters may find it extremely challenging to follow the principal in public skate parks. Although vitally useful, it is difficult to focus on empty spots in places that are packed with peer skaters, passersby, and small children skating around you. Learn to look past them, through them or between them as you find your way forward. Ideally, the only way you can get better at rollerblading is by doing it and practicing over. Skate often and for as long as possible for you. You will find yourself skating longer with time and getting better at the art of rollerblading.
How much time do I need to spend to learn rollerblading [source]? The more you practice, the better you get in rollerblading, over time. Remember to follow the guidelines, maintain the proper stance, understand the basics, and keep practicing until you get better. There is no specific timeline for how much will it take for a person to learn rollerblading. People with prior experience often learn quickly to perform the tricks. Amateurs may require more time. But the primary factor that determines how quickly you learn is how much time you put in practicing the skills.
I am an adult in my late 20’s. Can I learn to rollerblade when I do not have prior experience in any extreme sport? People of any age can learn rollerblading. In fact, many skating rinks train people from ages 11 to 70. However, your course of learning may be slightly more challenging than that of an 8 or 10 years old kid. As we age, our muscles lose flexibility and bones turn stiff. You may require to indulge in some muscle training exercises to prepare your body for the sport. Rest is all about understanding the basics and practicing the skills.
Suggest some basic movements that I should practice as a beginner to help generate speed. Movements like leaning, pivoting, and crouching may help you practice turns and generate speed while skating. As you perform any leg movements, keep your knees bent and ankles loose. Try to maintain a low center of gravity in the beginning.