When you roll into the world of roller skating (see what we did there...!), mastering the foundational skills is the key for a long and safe journey on skates. We know it is easy to get caught up in the excitement and try to move through the basic skills quickly, but as the old saying goes: you gotta walk before you run!
Before you throw yourself into the skatepark or the streets, we suggest you spend a few days, weeks or even months drilling the foundations of roller skating. Here's some of the skills you should absolutely master first:
1. Balancing: Finding your balance is the cornerstone of roller skating. Start by standing still, distributing your weight evenly between both skates. Keep your knees slightly bent and engage your core for stability. Practice shifting your weight from side to side to get comfortable with maintaining balance. If you are feeling confident, you can try lift one foot off the ground and balance while you hold it up!
2. Falling Safely: Falling on purpose might seem like a silly idea...but trust us, it's not! Practising how to fall safely means you slowly implant these way of falling into your muscle memory. Knowing how to fall safely minimises the risk of injury. Practice controlled falls by bending your knees, crouching down, and landing on padded areas like your knees and forearms. Learning this technique builds confidence and reduces fear. Remember falling is part of the learning process, so there will also be plenty of it "not on purpose'!
3. Stopping: Mastering stopping techniques—like T-stops or plow stops—is non-negotiable for safety. There's plenty of roller skate tutorials out there to learn these! Find a flat smooth patch of ground and practice your stops until you master them. Basketball and netball courts are a great place to do this. Gradually challenge yourself by experimenting with different speeds and even attempting stops on gentle inclines!
4. Turning *both ways* : Once again, there's so many youtube tutorials you can find online to master your turns. Our suggestion? Practice both ways!! A complete skater will be able to do most moves both ways... so get in early and practice everything both sides. We know it's hard, but the earlier you start the sooner you'll master! You won't regret it, we promise.
5. Backward Skating: Backwards skating is a huge part of roller skating, no matter what modality you intend to go into. Did you know your toe stops are mainly meant to be used for stopping when skating backwards!? Learning how to skate backwards might take some time, but no one said it would be easy! Start slow, keep knees bent, weight centred, and use arms for balance. Practice short distances and gradually build confidence until you master this skill!
These foundational skills set the stage for more advanced techniques. Patience and consistent practice in a safe environment will make your roller skating journey a long one! Be kind to yourself, don't compare your progress with others and celebrate every little achievement. And of course, don't forget your safety gear—it's your best buddy as you learn!