Learning how to skate without relying on solid objects like a rail to hold on to is tricky, but learning how to stop on inline skates is perhaps the most challenging part of beginner inline skating. Many beginner skaters attempt to stop by grabbing the nearest solid object, like a car or a tree. Unfortunately, some stops are accidental, like trying to grab to a wall, or a pavement, which only reiterates the lousy nature of such a habit.
In plain English, grabbing onto solid objects is a horrible habit – and one that should be dropped as soon as possible. The earlier you master speed management and stopping techniques, the better your overall learning curve and skating confidence will be.
All beginnings are tough, and using the brakes might seem challenging to master at first. But there are several stopping techniques that can help inline skaters master the art of stopping their inline skates. So, without further ado, let’s learn how to stop on inline skates.
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How To Stop On Inline Hockey Skates With A Heel Brake
Heel brake is the most recommended braking method for beginners, as almost all inline skates come equipped with heel brakes. As their name implies, you’ll find a heel brake on the heel of one boot in most inline skates.
To stop by employing the heel brake; first, you need to stretch your arms in front to maintain balance while bending your knees a little. Next, shift most of your weight to the leg without the mounted brake, and bend the knee slightly as if you were to sit down. As you do this, slowly extend the opposite leg, the one with the brake skate, in front of you, keeping the leg straight.
Extend your foot as much as needed until the heel brake makes contact with the ground. Only then, apply firm downward pressure against the ground until you come to a complete stop. Practice heel braking while skating at lower speeds until you become comfortable with the motion.
Ways to Stop with Roller Blades Without the Heel Brake
Heel brakes are the most recommended method of stopping and managing speed for beginners. But there’s a reason why they’re not included in elite and performance level skates – they’re a hindrance when it comes to certain styles of skating.
For example, they’ll prevent you from skating backward, and having them on your skates can lead to injury while sliding. In the end, it’s much easier to commit to learning how to brake and manage speeds when the brake simply isn’t there. So, once you’ve become comfortable with the heel brake, you could remove it from your skates.
But how are you going to brake then? Well, there are over a dozen methods on how to stop with rollerblades without the heel brake. We’ll list just a few.
T-Stop or Drag Stop Braking
The T-stop or drag stop, also known as L-stop, involves putting your skate perpendicular to your leading foot and dragging it behind you. Yes, the inside side of your wheels will scrape against the ground, but that’s the entire point. This type of braking is incredibly easy to learn, but it will cause the wheels on your skates to wear faster over time.
To drag brakes, you’ll need to be able to skate on one leg, at least shortly. Shift 90% of your weight on your leading leg, which should be bent to maintain balance, and let the other leg drag behind you perpendicularly to the leading foot. Though it’s called a T-stop, your braking foot (trailing skate) is not directly behind your leading leg (leading skate) but slightly to the side, like an L instead.
The best approach to learning this is to practice while stationary before attempting an L-brake while skating slowly. It’s a relatively easy method to learn, and once you’ve mastered it, you’ll be able to determine the amount of pressure needed to brake at different speeds. It’s also one of the safest braking techniques when inline skating.
How to Plow Stop?
Plow stop, otherwise known as V-stop or sliding snow plow braking, is another fantastic way to gradually slow down by keeping your skates in a triangle shape as you’re treading forward. Keep in mind that this is only recommended for lower speeds; trying to plow stop at a higher speed might cause you to trip and fall.
To plow stop, you need to spread your legs a little more than shoulder-width apart and turn your toes inward as you’re skating forward. Then, push the heels outward and down with your skates while leaning forward. You can also turn your knees slightly inward and down to avoid falling due to sudden momentum change. However, this only sounds easier said than done.
It takes a sense of balance to prevent yourself from tripping and falling and a good level of control to prevent your skates from banging into each other.
Spin and Stop
Spin and stop is an intermediate braking technique for speed regulation and should be practiced once you become comfortable with skating at higher speeds. Though not recommended to use spin and stop at higher speeds, this method is quite useful at optimal speeds – not too slow, not too fast. So, here’s how you do it:
While skating at optimal speed, move your legs outwards, so your skates are positioned wider than shoulder-width, with your toes pointing forward. Then, spin one leg outwards while simultaneously rotating your upper body in the opposite direction. The movement and the spinning motion of your body will force you to make a 180° turn in one direction, slowing your momentum and forcing you to stop.
This method requires some practice, and it’s safer to perform at a slow speed. However, once you’re comfortable, you can progress at higher rates; just remember to lean forward as you spin to avoid the sudden change of momentum pulling you backward. In the end, when done correctly, spin and stop can be quite a showy method of speed regulation.
How to Perform a Power Slide or Hockey Stop?
Besides being showy, the power slide, also known as the hockey stop or parallel slide braking, is an effective speed management method provided it’s performed correctly. Performed incorrectly, however, is an effective way of meeting the ground, so you might want to practice at lower speeds.
The power slide is basically a slide which you control all the way to a stop. To perform this stop correctly, you must make a transition from forward to backward by making a quick turn to either your left or your right. As you make the transition and slide sideways, make an L-stop by pushing your forward leg into an L-stop instead of dragging it behind. In plain English, your trailing leg pushes in the direction in which you’re moving.
It’s imperative to bend your knees and maintain a lower stance for better balance. As we previously stated, a power slide takes time to master but presents a relatively good stopping method for smoother surfaces. Not to mention it looks good.
How To Do A Power Stop
Performing the basic power stop is more about becoming confident with the sudden change of movement rather than the complexity of the stopping technique. Mainly because the movement itself isn’t all that complex. However, learning a basic power stop requires additional “equipment” beside your inline skates, like two small objects to serve as your focus points. Two plastic cones or two rocks or pebbles will do the trick – we’ll use cones in our explanation.
Start by practicing wide curves around the first cone, performing them in one and then the other direction. Make sure you’re keeping your feet appropriately aligned, parallel to each other, and as close together as possible. Keep practicing curves around the cone until you build up enough confidence performing the movement in both directions.
After you’ve mastered curving around the first cone, you can position the second cone at a reasonable distance from the first one. Again, the main idea is to allow yourself enough space to perform the curves while switching your weight between your feet.
Your curves will gradually become tighter as you progress, at which point you want to pay special attention to how your weight shifts. For example, when nearing a cone, turn your inside foot towards the cone, and shift your weight to that leg while the outer foot continues along its smoother arc. As you change direction, shift your weight to your other leg by rotating your upper body in the opposite direction from your turn.
Practice power stops between the two cones, alternating sides until you’re comfortable with the movement. It’s worth noting that practicing power stops is an excellent way to practice power slides.
Despite looking simple, stepping stops require a considerable amount of skill to perform. To perform a stepping stop, you must pick up your skates and take a few steps in the direction you’re traveling without propelling you forward.
It’s essential to differentiate stepping from walking – trying to “walk stop” while gliding will almost always cause you to lose balance and meet the pavement. Instead, it would help if you mimicked the movement of walking or stepping in place. For example, try lifting your right skate off the ground for a few moments and then place it back, lifting your left skate the same way. Alternate between skates until you come to a complete stop.
This is not a showy stopping method, and to an untrained person, it might seem like you’re trying to save yourself from a fall. Regardless, it’s a suitable method of stopping when you’re skating at moderate speeds of approximately 15mph. Also, this stopping technique could be used to gradually stop while skating both forward and backward.
Similar to skiing, a slalom stop allows you to gradually slow down to a halt, even at high speeds. However, you can expect a longer braking distance, depending on the speed at which you were skating. Performing a slalom stop is relatively straightforward, but there are vital things you need to keep in mind. For example, it’s important to lean forward slightly and keep your knees bent to avoid losing balance.
While skating, make a sharp turn to your left (or right) with both feet, immediately making a sharp turn in the opposite direction. Then, alternate the movement until you come to a complete stop. The sudden changes of direction, and alternation between left and right turns, will quickly slow down your forward momentum, bringing you to a full stop.
Besides stopping, this technique is quite effective for speed management, as it gradually slows you down and helps you control your speed.
In conclusion, learning how to stop on inline skates is one of the primary things you should focus on when learning how to skate. However, it’s imperative to understand that your stopping and speed management skills will improve as your inline skating does – over time and with a lot of practice. So, practice as much as you can.
Successfully learning how to speed manage on inline skates includes mastering your balancing skills. In addition, better confidence in balancing inline skates will help you understand these speed management techniques more effectively.
In the end, it’s important to remember that mastering skating, and any other skill worth learning, requires time, patience, and a lot of practice. Just make sure you have your protective gear on, such as elbow pads, knee protectors, and skating helmets.