Braking: A Tutorial
Learning how to stop on inline skates isn’t rocket science, but most novice skaters struggle with braking because they are terrified they will fall. This fear stems from having to take the braking skate and tilt it, which ultimately leaves the skater unbalanced and prone to falling. Braking properly on inline skates does not have to be difficult or terrifying. Here is a quick tutorial of how to brake on inline skates that will help relieve you of your fears.
Step 1: Preparing
When you need to brake, the first step in the process is to prepare yourself by putting yourself into a ready position. The ready position requires that you position your skates a few inches apart and parallel to each other. You must also bend your knees slightly and keep your back straight. What this will do is allow you to lower your center of gravity slightly and reduce the likelihood of falling when completing the succeeding steps. Additionally, you will want to extend your arms in front of you.
Extending your arms is important for two reasons. First it will keep you from falling backward. Second, it will allow you to catch yourself in the off chance that you fall forward.
Step 2: Brake Skate Forward
Once you have prepared yourself in a position to brake, the next step is to move your braking skate forward. It is important at this point to resist the temptation to raise the toe on your braking skate because doing so will engage the brake too early. If it is engaged too early, you will not have much leverage and it will take longer to stop.
Step 3: Tilt, Friction, and Stop
After you have positioned your braking skate forward you can now proceed with lifting the toe of your brake skate. The degree at which you must tilt your skate will depend on the positioning of your brake. If it is high, you will need to tilt your skate more to engage friction between the pad and the ground.
If you are skating with an ABT brake, this step will be slightly different. Instead of tilting your brake skate so that the brake meets the ground, you will apply pressure to the cuff of your skate to engage the ABT brake arm. It is likely that pressure may already be applied from moving your brake skate forward, as described in step 2.
Braking: Common Mistakes
♦ Mistake: Not bending your knees enough.
Solution: Do what you can to avoid locking your knees. Instead, loosen up and keep them slightly bent. If you don’t bend your knees enough, you will be unstable and your brake will work inefficiently.
As described above, bending your knees will accomplish two things: first, it lowers your center of gravity, which makes you more stable and less prone to falling, and second, it lets you slide your braking skate well in front of your other skate.
♦ Mistake: Leaning too far forward.
Solution: Leaning too far forward poses a similar issue to not bending your knees enough. It makes your brake inefficient, or almost useless. Rather than leaning forward, keep your back straight and position your rear end closer to the ground. Your weight should be positioned slightly behind your heel brake.
Positioning your rear end closer to the ground is accomplished by bending your knees, but make sure you do not lean forward. Bending your knees will create the tendency to do so, but you should avoid this if you want to brake correctly. Remember, you are a skater, not Superman.
♦ Mistake: Insufficient Leg Scissoring
Solution: Not scissoring your legs enough increases the tendency of falling…forward or backward. Scissoring is simply the process of sliding your braking leg forward and your other leg backward. As you slide your braking foot forward, try to keep all of your wheels on the ground so that you do not prematurely engage the brake. As you scissor your legs, the heel of your braking skate should be approximately 6 inches in front of the toe of your other skate. This will provide you with increased stability and prevent falling.
♦ Mistake: Leaning on the Non-Brake Skate
Solution: Putting too much weight on your non-brake skate is a common mistake that causes frustration when learning how to stop. If you put too much weight on this skate, you will not stop, but instead you will turn in the direction of your braking skate.
To avoid this issue, keep you weight on your braking skate…don’t worry it will hold you while you slide it forward. To do this, make sure your feet areas close as possible to each other…almost touching. When you slide your brake foot forward, make sure it does not go out to the side. You will end up in nearly a straight line, but you won’t be putting weight on the wrong skate.
♦ Mistake: Planting your feet too wide
Solution: Planting your feet too far apart will not allow you to put the maximum weight onto your braking skate. If you avoid positioning your legs too far apart, you will avoid becoming unstable and ensure that your weight remains behind the braking skate. Position your skates close together and keep your feet in a narrow line when you roll your braking foot forward. The best way to do this is to imagine you are skating in a narrow piece of wood. If you do this, you will avoid poor leg positioning when attempting to brake.