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Practice Tips for Beginning Inline Skaters

How to make your your first inline skating practice sessions productive and fun. Last article in a four-part series called "Getting Started on Inline Skates".

Before You Practice, Take a Lesson
Before you start practicing on inline skates, you should take a skating lesson from a professional inline skating instructor. You will be a much better skater, and much less likely to injure yourself, if you take at least one lesson before you try skating on your own. You can find a lesson by using one of the inline skating instructor directories in our Inline Skating Lessons and Instructors section. Please take a lesson before you try skating on your own. Attempting to skate without taking lessons is scary and dangerous to yourself and others!

Things to Bring When You Skate
  • Helmet
  • Protective Gear (Wrist Guards, Knee Pads, Elbow Pads)
  • Skates
  • Socks
  • Skate Tool
  • Water or money for drinks
  • Money for phone calls, taxi, snacks
  • Phone numbers you might need
  • Pencil and paper for new phone numbers :)
  • Band-Aids, moleskin, blister kit, athletic tape
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Elastic bands for tying back your hair
  • Blinkie lights if you might be out after dark
  • MP3 player or tape player if you skate to music

  • Your Very First Practice Sessions

    The Rollerblade skate company suggest that first-time skaters walk around on a flat, grassy surface before they try skating on pavement. It's a good way for new skaters to get the feel of their skates, and to practice standing and balancing. You might want to start several of your first sessions this way.

    When you feel you're ready, carefully move to the pavement and just BALANCE on your skates, without trying move. Position your feet a few inches apart, bend your knees, and balance your weight on the balls of your feet.

    When you're ready to roll, begin to skate gradually. Practice moving forward but don't get going too fast. You should ease into your first practice sessions. Don't push yourself too hard and don't try to skate beyond your abilities. There's plenty of time!

    Warm Up Before You Skate

    Warm up before each practice session. You will be less likely to injure yourself if you begin each skating session with a few Stretching Exercises and a slow five-minute warm-up skate.

    When I first started skating, I always felt very unsteady when I first put on my skates. It felt like I had never been on skates before! After about 10 or 20 minutes, I always got my "skating legs" back. It still happens to me, to a lesser extent, so don't get discouraged if you experience the same thing.

    Where and What to Practice

    Find a large, flat, empty parking lot for your first practice sessions. When I say flat, I mean VERY flat. The slightest grade will make you gain speed faster than you expect, and you will quickly find yourself skating out of control.

    Practice the striding and stopping skills you learned in your skating lesson. Skate and stop, over and over, until stopping starts to become an automatic reflex. Later you should practice skating and stopping in a gently sloping parking lot. For heel brake instructions and other stopping techniques see How to Stop on Inline Skates.

    Bend Your Knees

    It's very important to bend your knees when you skate. It keeps your center of gravity low so you will be more stable and less likely to fall. Bending your knees also adds power to your stride. If you stand up straight, your stride is only about 1 foot wide on each side, but if you bend your knees deeply, your stride is more like 3 feet wide on each side. This longer stride adds power to your skating, and your stride will be more productive with less effort. (I learned this tip from Jay Etheredge, winner of many U.S. speedskating competitions.)

    Bending the knees is difficult for most beginners. Actually, it's not really difficult for them to DO it... it's just difficult for them to KNOW whether or not they're doing it. They think they're bending their knees, but they're really bending at the waist. To overcome this very common problem, try bending your knees until you can feel the cuff of your skates pressing against the front of your shins. If you can't feel your skates pressing hard against your shins, you're aren't bending your knees deeply enough.

    Learn to Fall

    Keep your weight forward on the balls of your feet when you're skating. Always remember that you don't want to fall backwards onto your unprotected back or tailbone. Of course, most of us don't want to fall at ALL, but when you can't avoid it, you should make sure you fall forward onto your wrist guards and knee pads. For more about preventing and handling skating falls see How to Fall on Inline Skates.

    Skate Every Day

    Try to skate every day, even if it's only once around the block. Your skating skills will develop quickly if you make time for frequent practice sessions. Even 15 or 20 minutes a day will make a big difference.

    Go Back to School

    After you are comfortable with basic skating skills like stopping and striding, take an intermediate class to learn T-stops, slalom (turning) techniques, skating backwards, and other more advanced maneuvers.

    Have Fun!

    Skate on One Foot
    Practice balancing on one foot at a time while you're skating. See how long you can glide on each foot. This is a good way to develop your balancing skills.

    Skate to Music
    Skating to music helps you develop an even rhythm, and it helps you relax and forget to worry about falling down. Skating to the beat of the music is fun! MP3 Players are perfect for skating because they have no moving parts and your music will never skip, even when you skate over cracks and bumps.

    Play Games
  • Roller Hockey
  • Roller Soccer
  • Roller Basketball
  • Roller Limbo (you won't want to try this...)

    Skate with Friends
  • Join a Weekly Group Skate
  • Find a Local Skating Club
  • Take an Organized Skate Tour

  • 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

    Visit Our 12 Skating Forums
    Forums for discussing aggressive, artistic, beginning, hockey, fitness, recreational, roller basketball, roller derby, roller dancing, rollersoccer, quad skating, slalom skating, and speed skating.

    Related Links:
    10 Skating Forums at AskAboutSkating.com
    Inline Skating for Beginners - Main Menu
    Where to Find a Skating Lesson
    How to Skate
    How to Stop

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