Inline Racing Skates Speed Frame
Ok, so the first tip about learning to stop on inline skates is don’t rely on other objects – that should be pretty obvious but you don’t want to learn to stop by trying to find the nearest tree, car and/or dog and putting your hands out. Although this seems to be how a lot of beginners like to stop…
The earlier you can master stopping, the more confident you’re going to be. So in the earliest stages of learning one of the very first things you should do is learn how to brake.
The good news is, it’s fairly easy to stop on inline skates once you understand one particular technique and give it a go.
There’s one brake technique used more than any others in inline skating, and that’s what we’ll focus on below – it’s called the T-brake. It’s called this because of the shape your skates and legs apparently make – a T. It’s pretty easy to do, a few tips will help you pick it up easily.
Actually, to be a bit pernickety, your skates and legs make an L. So I’m going to refer to it as an L stop, L-brake, or whatever else randomly pops into my head at that time I write it.
We will however cover some over brake techniques in brief that you can learn that are a bit more advanced, such as the cool-looking powerslide.
What To Do If You Actually Have A Heel Brake
Feel free to skip this part about how to heel brake.
A quick aside, if you actually have a heel brake it’s still a really good idea to learn the T-stop as well as the heel stop. One day you may move onto skates without brakes so start learning how to stop the T-stop the first chance you get. Also, the T-stop (L-stop) is basically as easy as the heel brake as well. It’s also a more powerful brake. And you never know, once you’ve learned the T-stop you may just want to take your heel brakes off.
But as the heel brake is the recommended stop for the beginner, a quick primer on how to do a heel brake, just in case you haven’t been taught how to do that either yet:
You’re going to be pushing the heel brake out the front of you while bending forward a little to balance, with your knees bent. So the toes on the extended foot are pointing up which brings the brake into contact with the floor, where you push forwards and downwards. You start by keeping your knees bent, arms in front to counterbalance, and simply push the skate in front that you’re stopping with, make sure you’re sitting down in your rough chair, and push down hard with the heel.
To perform an L-stop simply put your skate perpendicular to your leading foot and let it drag behind you, scrapping the side of the wheels along the floor.
Yes, I know it does sound like it will damage your wheels, and guess what, after enough time it does! But this is just part of skating.
You can re-arrange your wheels so that the wear on the different sides is evened-out.
To clarify, you are skating forwards, putting 90% of your weight on one leg which is bent, and basically letting the other leg drag behind you and to the side. It’s not directly behind you actually like a T would be, but basically like an L instead, dragging along the floor to slow you down. It looks a bit like the picture above.
Here are some tips to master it:
The key to finding the L-brake easy is having control over your trailing leg so that a. you do not spin in a useless circle and fall on the floor, and b. you can apply varying degrees of pressure to brake quickly or slowly.
To do this you need really to be able to skate a bit on one leg.
You can practice this, as while you skate you can hold one leg off the floor for longer and longer periods of time, until you are basically skating along on one leg. The more balance you have on one leg the easier this is going to be. This is the foundation, and if you build it up the L-brake will be a sinch (haven’t used the word “sinch” in a while).
Because 90% of the weight is going on one leg, you need to be comfortable with this.
The next step is to be able to orientate your legs in the T-position.
So, let’s first get the T-position thing out of the way:
Whilst one foot faces forwards, the other one that will be trailing behind it turns 90 degrees to the outside with the toe end pointing away from you. This is the trailing foot which is doing the actual braking.
Technically it makes closer to an L shape than a T. The difference is that the skate is not shoved behind the leading leg exactly as would be in a perfect capital T, but rather to the side slightly along its own plane of motion, as you find in a capital L.
That bottom horizontal part of the L is your trailing skate.
This trailing leg will be doing the braking, and it sits somewhere behind your forward facing foot. It is not immediately behind it, it might be a foot behind it when you’re in the stationary fairly straight stood up position. It may end up dragging a couple of feet behind you when you are moving. And in this position you can imagine of course you are bending with your leading leg, allowing the trailing one to be pretty much straight as it drags, and overall the more you bend the closer to the ground you are getting.
Practice stationary, getting into this shape a couple of times so you get used to how far around you have to twist your trailing leg. You can feel the bending, twisting motion that’s necessary to achieve the full 90 degrees. And, in actual fact, you won’t always need to get it perfectly 90 degrees as long as you have enough pressure down.
Make sure you can achieve that full 90 degree angle though, just in case.
Start just putting your feet in that position, and balancing like that.
Start slow – really slow. Barely above standing still. And rinse and repeat, getting faster every time. So you’ve got your leg used to the motion by standing still and orienting the trailing leg, allowing it to scrape along the floor, but also by applying some pressure down.
It’s this applying pressure to your trailing leg that is the actual brake motion. So you can feel how by allowing your dragging foot to be heavy and pushing down onto the floor, it creates more friction dragging you to a halt.
Like every skill you learn in skating you want to start from what you can do, and make tiny adjustments to it building up the muscle memory and the balance. So skate very slowly along and after you’ve built up the ability to put most of your weight on one leg, do it, turn the trailing leg and practice the brake. Simply repeat this at different speeds.
To be honest, this should be obvious.
You should be able to feel naturally which way makes sense to you. If you are “regular” – which is the way most people do it – then you will feel most comfortable leading with your left leg and braking with your right. This could be because you have more control over the right leg and putting it into a dragging position requires this control.
It’s useful to get to the point where you can brake with both legs (but actually, doesn’t really matter). So I wouldn’t worry about rushing into that first off. Just get one leg working really well.
Having a fairly deep knee bend in the leading leg, and distributing your weight more over that leg is a good technique. You don’t really want to be standing directly straight when you do this. You will get to the point where you can do this brake in various depths of stance which will vary depending on how fast you’re going. For example, I find myself t-braking standing almost directly straight up when I’m moving very slowly, but for speed you get much lower to drag the leg further behind you and to really bend the front leg (your trailing leg remains outstretched and straight of course, sometimes pushing down quite hard to break suddenly)
Keep your back relatively straight with your eyes looking forward.
Don’t have your legs too close or too far apart. Too far apart and you could be doing the splits
Place your braking foot down in increments, just like you would a car: once you feel the grip of the asphalt start dragging it, dig it in more.
Like skiiers who put their skis in a triangle shape in front of them with the skiis pointing inwards to slow down on gentle slopes (not suitable for steep slopes) you can technically plow stop on skates. But it’s pretty hard and if you’re a beginner I’d just forget it for now. Needs a lot of power, like from alpine skiing
But just in case you’ve mastered the T-stop, the way you do this is by pushing outwards and down with your skates while leaning forwards, like you’re trying to dig the wheels into the ground and make them slide. Pushing out as if trapped between two walls that are pushing your skates inwards, knees bent in and skates going out. .
The best way is you realise how plow stop works in alpine skiing. Well, it’s that, but on skates.
At the right speed – which basically means not super fast – you can spin one leg out in a wide circle to stop yourself.
So the faster you go the more you have to put your leg out, and this can be very hard if you’re going fast so it’s good to start when you’re going slow.
An L-stop, but going backwards…
The cool one.
Transition from forwards to backwards, then push out your leg in the same position as an L-stop. But instead of your leg trailing to stop it, your pushing it out in the direction of travel to do the same thing.
Stretch your sliding leg, leaning on your dominant leg as you would in a normal L-stop.
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