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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 speed skating.

    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
  • Take Lessons
  • Learn to Stop

    Avoiding Injuries:
    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 Skating Activities.

    Protective Gear:
    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.

    Falling Down:
    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

    Taking Lessons:
    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 countries.

    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



  • More of This Article
    Part 1: Overcoming Fear of Skating
    Part 2: Buying Your First Skates
    Part 3: Skating Safety and Etiquette
    Part 4: Practice Tips for Beginners



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