How to Rollerblade – A Beginner’s Guide & Tips

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Rollerblading is an exciting hobby that has many benefits. Besides the thrills, excitement, and competitiveness that the sport brings, it’s also incredibly beneficial for your health.

Whenever you suit up and rollerblade, not only are you gaining enjoyment from one of your favorite activities, you’re also adding much-needed cardio into the mix. Rollerblading uses all different parts of your body and requires endurance and coordination, making it a great alternative to standard cardio routines.

A pair of inline skates were developed by a Dutch citizen in the early 1700s. He attached wooden spools to strips of wood and nailed them to his shoes. It wasn’t until 1863 when the earliest roller skate was developed and the 1980s when traditional roller blades finally emerged.

The trend caught on in Minnesota initially, when hockey players and skiers were spotted cruising the streets with inline skates. Eventually, the design would spread like wildfire into the craze we know today.

If you’ve been thinking about getting into rollerblading, you’ve made a great choice. Rollerblading takes dedication and practice, but the benefits are well worth it. We’ve got a guide to help get you started on your journey. Keep reading for our comprehensive guide on how to rollerblade.

See also: Best Rollerblades

How to Rollerblade: A Guide for Newcomers

In this guide, we cover everything from equipment, ideal spots, tricks to techniques. You can start from the beginning and follow along while we walk you through all the pertinent steps.

First, we’ll cover the basics of rollerblading gear. You can’t rollerblade without the proper equipment.

Picking Your Gear

You need to find the best equipment to suit you for size and comfort. The performance is also important. Use these recommendations as a guide. As a beginner, you don’t want to break the bank on your first pair of inline skates, but you don’t want the cheapest either. 

Rollerblades

The right size is one of the most important elements of choosing the right inline skates. Picking something too loose is going to make for difficult control and maneuvering. However, choosing something too tight means a great deal of discomfort. Try them to get a good feel before committing. Make sure the rollerblades can be exchanged if you decide you need a better-fitting pair.

 Make sure the pair of rollerblades you get are high-tops. Locking straps on a snug pair of high-tops boots will ensure you feel maximum stability during your ride.

 Maximum comfort is one of the most important elements when it comes to your inline skates. You’ll spend a lot of time practicing, and you’ll go through a full range of motions, so you don’t want rollerblades that are uncomfortable. There needs to be plenty of padding in the boot area.

  As a new skater, you don’t need to top out on speed. Softer wheels grip the surface of what you’re skating, which leads to slower speeds. The higher levels of grip also allow new skaters to roll over obstacles easier.

 Certain rollerblades don’t have brakes on the heels. Rookies should stay away from rollerblades without heel brakes.

Safety Equipment

Choosing the right safety equipment is vital in the initial phases of rollerblading. Everything should fit properly while still providing an efficient level of comfort.

Pick a helmet that covers your entire head down to about halfway to your eyebrows. The sides should stop just above the tops of your ears. When you snap the chin strap, you should be able to slide a finger between your chin and the buckle barely. 

Your knee pads should cover your entire knee and round out an inch above your kneecap and an inch below. The straps shouldn’t pinch the skin behind your knees.

Elbow pads should fit similarly. The elbow pads should only extend a half-inch above and below the elbow. Wrist guards are optional, but you might choose to wear them as a beginner just to be safe.

Finding a Spot for Inline Skating

 The most convenient and private location is the garage area of your home. Garages typically have the perfect floor surface for inline skating. The smooth, flat surface is free from large debris and is easy on the wheels. A skater first starting practicing starting, stopping, and turning, will have ample space in the garage.

Alternatively, if you have a basement with concrete floors, you could also use this area for practice. The basement usually has more room to skate as well.

If you don’t have the luxury of either of these, you could use your driveway. Make sure all obstacles and debris are clear before you start skating.

You could also use a public area if you wanted to venture out. Find a less crowded area, like a quiet park or small, dead-end street. You’ll want to find the smoothest, flattest surface possible.

When you’re a beginner, you generally want to avoid hills. Obstacles can also hinder your progress, so try and find an open space.

Standing Up on Rollerblades

Now that we’ve covered the location and all the equipment, you’re ready to start the action. Before you can move forward with rollerblading, you have to learn how to stand up.

The first thing you’re going to do is put on the rollerblades. From a sitting position on the ground, lace your skates up. Make sure the laces are tight and don’t hang too much. If they’re too loose, you could have problems with pain and discomfort.

Tighten the strap, so your ankle and lower leg feel secure, and tie the laces up the whole length of the boot. After you’re comfortable with the tightness of your rollerblades, you can prepare to stand up.

1.       While you’re seated from your butt, spin and kneel on your knees.

2.       Lift one of your feet up and place the blade on the ground. From this position, you’ll look like you are taking a knee.

3.       From this kneeling position, use your hand to push down on the knee that’s bent. Push up to a standing position while putting force on this knee.

4.       Make sure your feet are firmly on the ground. You can use your heel brake you start to roll unexpectedly.

Now that you know how to stand up, before practicing this anymore, it’s time to learn how to fall. These two motions go hand-in-hand, so it’s best to learn them together.

Learning how to fall down in rollerblading is similar to learning the same on roller skates. Falling properly prevents more serious injuries from occurring, and that’s the goal here.

Related: Rollerblades vs Roller Skates

How to Rollerblade: Learning How to Fall

 It helps you practice falling on grass or carpet. These surfaces are softer and can help you avoid bruises until you get the hang of them.

Knee Falling

 There’s nothing embarrassing about falling when you first learn how to rollerblade. Everybody falls when they first start, and there’s no way to avoid it.

If you’ve ever fallen, you know you usually get a feeling before you go down. You get a bit shaky, and you know you’re about to hit the deck. Your body can tell when you’re losing control.

Once this feeling overtakes you, drop down and take a knee, similar to the position you use when you stand up. After you get to the kneeling position, compose yourself, take a deep breath, and slowly raise yourself up using the method of pushing off on your knee.

Falling Forward

It would be perfect if you knew every time you were going to fall, but you didn’t. Sometimes the worst falls happen unexpectedly. Most likely, these spills will happen after you’ve got some experience under your belt.

You’ll build up some confidence, which will lead you to increase your speeds. Out of nowhere, you’ll take some nasty falls. This is just how rollerblading goes. If you learn how to fall, you can prevent getting seriously hurt during these falls.

The idea of falling forward is to allow your pads to take most of the impact. This is why wrist guards and knee pads are a good idea because most people land on these areas when they fall forward.

Remember to keep your knees bent and elbows bent when you fall, so you don’t plant on your hands. This is a good way to end up with a broken arm or wrist.

As you’re coming down, try to fall to one side and roll over to your back. Your helmet will take the brunt of the damage if you hit your head.

If you keep your knees bent, this keeps your momentum forward when you’re inline skating. This position gives you a greater chance of falling forward and not backward.

When you do fall backward, you should attempt to one side. This motion prevents you from falling flat on your butt and injuring your tailbone, which is something you don’t want to do. Tailbone injuries can be very painful, and if you break your tailbone, the recovery time is very long.

Start slow when you’re first learning to rollerblade to minimize the severity of your falls. It’s best to get your falling down to a science before worrying about things like speed and tricks.

If you fall more than normal when you’re inline skating, practice a little more. Spend some more time in the grass or on a soft surface until you get the hang of it. The grass is a lot more forgiving than wood or concrete.

Once you get comfortable with falling, you can move on to the next step. The first thing you should learn after falling is how to perfect your stance so you can move on with more advanced moves.

 The Right Stance

From the standing position, move both of your feet directly ahead of you, facing forward. Remember to bend both of your knees. Keep your feet shoulder width apart. This will cause you to lean slightly forward.

Even though your knees are bent, you should keep your back upright but at a slight angle. This is the best stance for balance and momentum.

This also keeps your weight centered, which is what balance is all about. When people fall on rollerblades or skateboards, it’s because their stance doesn’t have the correct posture.

After you fall, you’ll always want to return to this stance. This is how you will begin any type of movement on your rollerblades.

Walking on Rollerblades

The next thing to learn is walking on rollerblades. You should return to the grass or carpet for this until you get comfortable because more falling is ahead of you.

Get into your proper stance like the one mentioned above. Pick one foot up and take a step forward. Don’t attempt to roll this foot forward. You must pick it up like you’re walking. Place the blade directly heel-to-toe with the other, but parallel to each other.

Bring the next foot up and bring the skates back to the position you were in when you started. After the second step, you should be in your beginning skate stance.

Again, try to remain as centered as possible when you do this. Take your time after you take each step, and make sure you don’t apply too much weight on your feet until it’s stopped in the final position. Putting too much weight on either foot before you’ve reached a stopping point will cause the blade to roll, and you’ll lose your balance.

Guess what happens when you do this?

That’s right, you fall.

After learning how to walk, you can learn how to glide. Gliding is just another term for rolling forward with your rollerblades.

If it takes you a while to learn how to walk, don’t get discouraged or mad. Honestly, this is one of the hardest things to learn when you first start. This step is where you’ll learn the most about balance and your center of gravity.

Truthfully, after you perfect this step, the rest comes easy. Well, it doesn’t come easy, but it gets easier. Balance and center of gravity are the hardest parts of the battle. This is why it’s important to take your time and not give up if you don’t perfect this step right away.

Sometimes it can take a few weeks, and that’s okay. Everybody will learn at their own pace. The important part is being comfortable enough to move forward when you’re ready.

Most people quit at this point in their rollerblading career. This is because they get tired of falling and get so discouraged, they think they’re never going to learn how to glide and do other advanced maneuvers.

Sadly, the point people quit is usually right when they are about to master the art of walking. If they had given it another day or two, they would have been walking like champs.

Rollerblading takes perseverance and a good attitude. All good things come to those who wait, and inline skating is no different.

Before you move on to gliding, you should learn how to stop first. It would be terrible to start gliding and not know how to brake. You would have to fall each time just to stop, and you don’t want that.

How to Stop on Rollerblades

Learning how to stop is crucial before learning how to glide and propel yourself. There are a few different ways of braking, and we will cover them all in this section. Once again, you might want to practice these steps in the grass first.

Heel Brake

Learning to heel brake is important. This is why at the beginning of the guide, we recommended getting rollerblades with brakes on the back of them. If you don’t, you will be unable to practice this type of braking.

Assuming you did, let’s move forward. The brake on the back is a rubber toe stop. Stopping using these brakes is very simple. All you do is tilt your foot with the brake backward and allow the rubber stop to make contact with your skating surface. This motion will slow you down gradually.

Practice using this braking method and then returning to your starting skate stance. Do this over and over until you feel comfortable with your balance and center of gravity.

Taking a knee is another good way to stop if you’re a beginner and don’t have heel brakes. You would do this the same way you would if you were falling. Taking a knee can be used for either method.

The T-Stop

The T-stop is a little harder to learn but is achievable once you have a little more practice keeping your balance. The goal is to make a T-shape on the ground to assist you in stopping.

While you’re in motion, turn one of your feet 90 degrees, so it is perpendicular to the other foot. Place this foot behind the foot that is facing forward. This makes a T or an L shape on the ground. Even though your font foot is rolling forward, the back foot will drag the ground opposite of the way the wheels turn. This will bring you to a fairly quick stop.

Practice all of these braking techniques in the grass if it makes you feel more comfortable. After trying each one of them, your next step should be returning to the starting skate position. The starting skate position will be the end and beginning of every move you perform while rollerblading.

Now it’s time to learn how to glide.

Gliding on Rollerblades

Once again, you will start in the proper beginning position. You won’t be able to practice in the grass for this, so you need to feel confident about your balance and falling ability. Hopefully, by this point, you’ve spent a good amount of time practicing the previous steps because this is the real deal.

Take a step forward and keep your arms balanced to either side of you. Hold them down to your sides, and this will help keep you standing upright.

Take another step forward with the other skate. You will begin to roll. When you take your next step, use the opposite foot to push off to the side. This will begin to propel you forward.

Next, take a step with the foot you just pushed off with, and push off with the opposite foot. You will continue to do this in rotation. You are now officially gliding.

Don’t get too excited the first few times you do this. You’re not a professional yet. If you pick up too much speed, you’ll probably fall. Don’t try to move too fast or show off. Instead, take your time and glide slowly.

When you get the hang of gliding and keeping your balance, then you can increase the pace. Remember to keep your knees bent and maintain that center of gravity.

Assuming you practiced in the right order, gliding should come much easier than walking did. Even if it does take some extra time, it’s important to keep your cool and not get negative. It will come to you with more practice.

The next step after gliding is learning how to turn and steer.

Steering on Rollerblades

If you’ve ever skateboarded or used normal roller skates, you should know about using your weight to turn. The only difference with rollerblading is you have to learn the blades by leaning your ankles.

You need to keep yourself balanced and shift your weight to the left or right. While you skate, both blades need to be leaning in the same direction to perform the proper steering technique. If they’re not, your legs will skate apart from one another, and you’ll end up doing the splits.

Shift your weight slightly towards the side you want to turn and extend your ankles in the same direction. You will shift your weight depending on which side or direction you want to turn towards.

When you get comfortable turning, it’s time for the moment of truth. You’re ready to pick up speed!

Picking Up Speed on Your Rollerblades

At this point, you should have conquered standing up, balancing, your stance, gliding, stopping, and steering. Assuming you are comfortable with all of these disciplines, it’s time to do some serious rollerblading.

Balance is more important the faster you skate. Bending your knees cannot be forgotten during this stage, or you’ll be in trouble. When you learn to add speed into your arsenal, you’ll throw your arms into the mix.

When you’re gliding, alternate swinging your arms with each foot when you take each step. When you take a step with your left foot, swing your right arm out in front of you, and vice versa. Your arms are the trick here. This is what gives you the momentum to pick up your speed.

You are using your arms to shift your weight even harder to propel yourself faster. This will come fairly quickly, so hopefully, you practiced your balance and knee bending.

If you start to feel like you’re going too fast or getting out of control, remember your falling. Take a knee or use one of the other methods to protect yourself. If you feel a fall coming, use the knee method as well. However, it’s harder to predict a fall when you’re moving at higher speeds.

Now that you’ve mastered being mobile on your rollerblades, you can learn more advanced movement techniques. These techniques are designed to give you even more speed and do different movements.

More Advanced Rollerblading Techniques

You should be past the point of practicing in the grass if you’ve made it this far. Most of these methods require a decent rate of speed, so I don’t have to tell you how important your balance has to be.

Crossover Technique

The crossover is used to go in a circle and create tighter turns. You can use the crossover to shift and change directions at a very fast pace quickly. You perform this move exactly how it sounds.

Take the foot that’s on the outside when you’re rollerblading, and cross it over the inside foot. If you are leaning to your right, you would take your left foot, pick it up off the ground like you’re walking, and cross it over the right foot. Then you pick up your right foot and place it over your left. Doing this quickly over and over can allow you to turn fast and pick up lightning-fast speeds.

Turning Steps

Turning steps is when you do two feet turns, and one foot turns on your blades. This technique will allow you to quickly turn back and then forward again without using your brakes.

Stand on one blade, taking your other foot and lifting it from the ground. Turn the blade that’s in the air to a 180-degree angle so that your two heels face each other. Place the turned skate back on the ground. Pick up the front skate and turn it again to 180-degrees and place it next to your new plant leg, and you will be skating backward. Reverse this process to switch from backward to forwards again.

This one may take some practice and more falling, but you will get the hang of it. This is a very cool technique to learn when you’re rollerblading, so don’t give up.

Rollerblading Backwards

Rollerblading backward isn’t much different than doing it forwards. You still roll and glide, but you use a scissor motion when you first learn.

Place your feet close together and push both blades outwards while keeping the wheels on the ground. Pull your feet back together and repeat this to pick up speed.

When you get to this level of rollerblading, you shouldn’t be falling nearly as much as you were. However, if you are this advanced and still falling, there are some moves you can practice.

What To Do If You’re Still Falling Often

Stand on One Foot with Your Rollerblades

Usually, people fall because they’re not used to heavyweights being on their feet. Rollerblades weigh five pounds or more, and that’s enough to throw anybody off balance. The best way to practice improving your balance is with your skates off first.

Stand on the ground with your feet beside each other. Raise one foot off the ground and count how long you can stand before putting the foot back down.

After you can do both feet for ten seconds or more, you can move on to the next step. Once you can do it without anything on your feet, you can put your blades on and try it with the extra weight.

Learning to rollerblade can take a lot of time and practice. The most important part is not getting discouraged. Keep a good attitude and get up right after you fall!