Over the last few years, roller skating has become increasingly popular. With many beginners trying the sport for the first time understanding how to roller skate for beginners is important to ensure you prevent injury and enjoy the sport in a fun way.
To reduce the risk of injury, we recommend you first master some of the basic techniques in a static environment, such as on grass, before then skating on a pavement, road or rink.
You can do yourself and others harm if you skate without any prior knowledge of the required techniques.
In this article, we are here to help you navigate the learning process of roller skating.
We will help you understand the differences between quad and inline skating and also give you tips for mastering body posture, the skating step, braking, and other basic skating positions.
Difference Between Quad And Inline Skates
If you’re new to roller skating, it’s important you first know the difference between quad skates and inline skates.
Quad roller skates are often refered to as old-style classic skates. They feature two wide wheel pairs and include a stop at the front.
Inline skates have four narrow wheels placed in a row with a heel brake on the back of the skate.
Another key difference between quad and inline skates is the wheelbase, which is much shorter in quad skates.
This means it is far easier to fall backward using quad skates compared to inline skates. For example, if you were to stick your bum out or straighten your knees using quad skates, you will feel a tendency to fall backward.
Understanding these basics can be helpful when you first slip on a pair of quad roller skates, particularly the factors that affect your stability and balance.
Tips For Roller Skating Beginners
To help you learn how to roller skate, we’ve compiled some essential tips to help you.
These include understanding the importance of body posture, tips for improving your balance, the skater step, and also some basic skating positions that you can take up. These are all discussed below.
The skating adventure begins with body posture. How you position your body when skating will dramatically impact how smoothly you can glide.
To perform the skating technique well, you need to be able to bend your legs.
For many beginners, this knee-bending position may come as a new sensation. You may feel your legs are stiff and struggle to get a sufficient level of bend.
When you’re standing up wearing your roller skates, it can be difficult to find that balance. Firstly, you need to relax and release the pressure by bending your knees.
The posture you are aiming for is for your knees to be vertically in line with your shoulders, while also maintaining vertical heel alignment with your bum. Your legs will act as shock absorbers and ensure your skating motion is smoother.
In addition to sticking your toes out, you can raise your arms in front and ensure your elbows are tucked to your side. This position keeps the gravity low and ensures your weight remains focused ahead.
As you glide, your skates should resemble the duck position where the tip of your skates is going in opposite directions.
A posture you should avoid is sticking your feet too close together. Not having a gap between the feet creates an imbalance that is difficult to recover from. Also, having the gap between your feet ensures that the wheels will not collide and this will prevent you from falling.
The skater step is a technique that beginners will struggle to initially achieve.
Many beginners seek to replicate a standard walking movement with their roller skates, however, this movement is not suited for skating and will cause an imbalance.
The skater step is a movement that should provide an easy roll.
Take the steps below to achieve the skater step:
- First, place your feet in what is known as the duck position.
- Second, push one of your skates to the side with your leg.
- Next, glide a few yards using the other skate.
- After that, bring back the first foot that is pushed in front.
- Repeat this movement with the other leg.
Don’t Fear Falling
A key barrier for beginner roller skaters to get over is the fear of falling.
If you want to master this activity, you’ll have to be prepared to fall over plenty of times. Be prepared to have bruises, scratches, and scars.
Unfortunately for beginners, many of the initial falls look quite spectacular because you haven’t mastered the ability to balance.
Although falling is common, it is not necessarily inevitable. Likewise, falling shouldn’t result in serious injury, provided you follow the right technique.
One thing you can do to avoid serious injury is by ensuring you are falling from the lowest possible height.
This means you should always be bending your knees. The closer you are located to the grounds, the more you will reduce the impact of the fall.
If you are going to fall in the forward position, you should try and land on your wrists and knees. While if you fall into a backward position, you should always protect your head, back, and shoulders by landing on your hands.
If you do fall, just go with the fall rather than trying to stand up immediately as this can cause further injury.
While it’s not easy to follow these tips when you’re in the midst of a fall, it is useful to have them in mind.
Four Basic Skating Positions You Should Know
A basic tutorial for beginner roller skates will cover four basic positions that you should be aware of.
We recommend you first learn these positions on a static environment such as grass so that you can master the technique and then feel confident to emulate it while rolling on a smooth pavement, rink, or road.
Form here is key. If your form is getting worse, your speed will increase. This is a completely normal learning process, but you should be confident in being able to slow yourself down before publicly skating.
The four key beginner skating positions you should try to master are explained below.
The T position is also referred to as the “safe T”. This is your resting position when you want to stand still and not roll anywhere.
To achieve this position, simply position the heel of one skate on the skate instep of the opposing foot at a 90-degree angle.
You can then use your calf and hamstring muscles to pull the skates together and this prevents them from rolling.
Many beginner skaters fall when trying to stand still. This is largely due to them not being aware of the T position when either looking at their phone or drinking.
The V position is a basic skating movement. Your heels will make a slight V shape, similar to a pizza slice, with your heels together and toes turned out.
You can generate movement by transferring your weight from one skate to the other.
Do not use this position if you want to stand still. The V position will always encourage movement.
The ready position is arguably the most important one for you to master. To get into this position, your feet need to be completely parallel and at least a hand’s width apart.
Your knees need to be bent until you transfer your weight to the balls of your feet.
The ready position provides beginners with an easy cruising and resting position. It should also be considered the starting position for any maneuver.
Although it sounds pretty straightforward, rolling while keeping your weight located at the balls of your feet can be difficult for beginners, especially when maintaining a narrow stance.
The ready position should be practiced a lot before you go out skating. You can also use it as a relaxing position in between striding.
Finally, the scissor position is another position for beginners to get the hang of. To achieve this, you need to establish a heavy skate and a light skate.
A heavy skate refers to having increased pressure that you apply by bending your knee further. A light skate has less knee bend.
Starting from the ready position, you can bend one of your knees to achieve a heavy skate.
The light skate can stretch forward one skate length until the back of the wheels reaches the heavy skate. You can then rotate the heavy and light skates between your legs to achieve a smooth scissor glide.
Depending on skill level, you can apply more or less weight distribution to the heavy and light skates.
As you become more confident the scissor position will become your cruising position. It is from the scissor foundation that you can then learn more complicated positions such as the parallel turn or hill stopper.
Once you become confident in the forward scissor position, you can also start to develop the backward scissor position.
If you’ve been able to master some of the basic positions while roller skating, you then need to learn how to brake while skating at speed. This is a crucial skill as it can prevent injury and help you regulate your speed.
As a beginner, you should always try to avoid any slopes or hills and skate on a flat surface as braking will become harder in these situations.
Below, we explore three common braking positions that you can work on. In addition, there are braking techniques known as the snow plow, which you can also learn during your training.
In T Position
Braking in the T position is a very simple technique in inline skating and is also applicable to quad roller skating.
To achieve this braking position, you simply need to lean forward while stretching one of your legs back, ideally the weaker one.
To execute the brake successfully, your back foot needs to be in a perpendicular position to your support foot. You also need to ensure that your wheels are lying flat. And this will dramatically reduce your speed.
Be aware that if you place your wheels in an incorrect position, for example to the side, your skates will shake and you’ll get less braking power.
Using Toe Stops
Most quad skates will be fitted with front stoppers which are also known as front brakes.
Although some roller skating does not use the front brake for braking, they can be used by recreational skaters.
To use the front brake effectively, you need to control your skating motion. When skating, you should turn to roll backward and then allow your foot stop to drag for a few seconds. This will bring you to a standstill.
Using The Rear Brake
If these techniques feel complicated for a beginner, you can also install a rear brake on your quad skates. Rear brakes are common in inline skates but are not very common for quad skates.
The braking motion when using the rear brake is much more straightforward.
While skating in a forward motion, you simply have to place the rear of your quad skates down and apply the rear brake which will very quickly reduce your speed.
Hopefully, you now feel confident in how to learn and progress as a beginner roller skater.
An important message to realize is that perfecting the art of roller skating will take lots of hours of practice. Don’t expect to rush the learning process or perfect the technique overnight.
One of the best things about roller skating is that after mastering some of the basic techniques, there are so many other techniques for you to explore.
As you evolve from the basic skating technique, you may want to explore activities such as roller hockey, roller derby, or speed roller skating which can improve your technique further.
Good skating technique requires a good form. Before purchasing some skates or taking up the sport you should confirm if you have sufficient knee and leg strength to deliver good form.
Ideally, you want to avoid spending lots of money on skates that you won’t use because of your physical limitations. Skating with poor form will also lead to injuries.
All beginner skaters should focus on perfecting the basic stationery, rolling, and braking techniques to give you a solid foundation to develop from.
The positions and techniques discussed in this article will give you a great start.
Hey there, my name is Tommy and I have to admit that rollerblading and roller skating are in my blood. I have been skating since I was seven years old and I have tried many different roller skates during my skating career.
I hope my knowledge and passion for rollerblading and skating comes across and that you’ll find the product reviews insightful.