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How to Overcome Fear of Skating
Tips for overcoming your fear of inline skating
and how find an instructor in your area. First article in a four-part series
called "Getting Started on Inline Skates".
Getting Past the First Hurdles
Fear of Standing on Skates
Fear of Falling Down
Fear of Not Being Able to Stop
Fear of Looking Foolish
Most people who try inline skating for the first time expect
it to be difficult to stand and keep their balance because of
the in-line arrangement of the wheels. While it's true that
many people need help getting to their feet the first time,
it's easy to stand on inline skates, because even the soft-boot
skates made by K2 and Salomon have plenty of ankle support
Inline skates are actually easier to skate on outdoors than
quad (conventional) roller skates, because inline skates are
more forgiving of cracks in the pavement. Quad skates are more
maneuverable, which is good for roller disco and artistic
skating, but inline skates are more suitable for fitness and
The next two concerns, falling and not being able to stop,
are shared by every new skater, but they can be easily
overcome by a good instructor, lots of practice, and plenty
of body padding - and I don't mean the natural kind!
The last item, looking foolish, should not be a concern at
all. Every skater who sees you learning will remember their
own first attempts, and non-skaters will think you are very brave.
Starting to Skate
Wear a Helmet and Protective Gear
Learn to Stop
Now you're almost ready to skate, but first, you need to
understand how important it is to wear the proper protective gear,
including a helmet, wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads.
According to Consumer Products Safety Commission Statistics
published by the International Inline Skating Association,
37% of all inline skating injuries in 1996 were injuries to
the wrist or lower arm. And according to the Inline Club of
Boston's Skating Safety Gear Web page, wrist guards will
reduce the risk of wrist injuries by 90%, and a helmet will
reduce the risk of head injuries by 85%. For more information
see Skating Injury Photos and Articles and Safe and Dangerous
Your risk of being injured on inline skates can be greatly
reduced by wearing a helmet, wrist guards, knee pads and
elbow pads. Protective gear is available at skate shops and
sporting goods stores that sell inline skates or skateboards.
A body gear 3-pack will usually cost about $40 to $60.
You could easily spend more than $100 on a helmet, but you
should be able to find a good one for $35 to $50. For helmet
selection tips and information about helmet standards, see
Liz Miller's article in the Orbit Newsletter, New Helmet
Standard Protects Skaters.
If you are especially concerned about falling, you can
practically eliminate this fear by wearing the type of
padded undergarments worn by professional hockey players.
Don't worry about how you'll look in padded underwear.
Why do you think aggressive skaters wear those baggy pants?
It's not just to look cool! For more information about the
safest way to fall, see How to Fall on Inline Skates
Now that you understand the importance of wearing protective gear,
you need to find a good skating instructor. Lessons are not expensive,
and they will make you a much better skater. They also greatly reduce
the risk of injury. To get an idea of what to expect during a lesson,
see the SkateGRRL photo spread, A Typical Inline Skating Lesson.
Group lessons typically cost $20, and some skate shops offer them
free. Private lessons usually cost $40 to $60, but many instructors
will let you share a private lesson with a friend, and reduce the
per-person cost by as much as 50% The price of lessons often includes
renting skates, helmet and body protection, so try to find an
instructor who will include equipment rental in their prices.
Make sure your instructor has a current teaching certificate from
the International Inline Skating Association (IISA). You can find
a certified instructor by contacting your local skate shops and
sporting goods stores, or you can use IISA's Instructor Search
Engine to find an instructor in the United States and many other
Learning to Stop: The first things you will learn in a class are
how to put on your protective gear, how to fall safely, how to
get moving, and how to STOP! Before you skate in a public place,
you should be completely comfortable using your heel brake. For
heel brake instructions and other stopping techniques, see How
to Stop on Inline Skates.
After you take a skating lesson, develop your stopping skills in
a large, flat, empty parking lot. Practice skating and stopping,
over and over, until using the brake starts to become an automatic
reflex. Later you can practice in a gently sloping parking lot.
Keep practicing until you are confident using your brake, and
you know how far in advance you need to apply it. Using the heel
brake is the one skill that will make the most difference in your
confidence level and enjoyment of inline skating.
This is the first article in a four-part series for
beginning inline skaters called "How to Get Started on Inline Skates":
Go to Part 2:
Buying Your First Skates
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