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If you are a human being in this year of 2021, you’ve likely been affected—at least in small part—by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent mandated quarantine. Perhaps, like many others, you used that sudden isolation to pick up a new hobby or learn a new trick . . . like rollerblading.
If your goal is to become an instant pro and to participate at the next World Roller Games or if you’re still getting your feet wet, this article will help you with the all-important concept of coming to a complete stop on inline skates. By the end of this list of stopping techniques, you’ll be a pro when it comes to heel braking, toe stopper, T stopping, plow stopping, and more. But no matter your experience level or end goal with skating, it never hurts to have an additional refresher on how to stop on inline skates.
For the purposes of this article, first make sure that you’re using the right skates. There’s a fine line between “rollerblading” and “rollerskating”—the former typically has one line of wheels and the latter has four (or more) wheels in a square or rectangle formation. Different styles mean different tactics for stopping, so make sure you’re learning the correct stopping techniques! Rollerblades can also be called “inline skates,” so keep that in mind, too.
HEEL BRAKE & FRONT BRAKE
Most rollerblades and/or inline skates—especially ones meant for beginners—have a brake attached to the bottom of the rollerblade; it’ll be a cube-ish rubber block that sits either at the front (front brake) or back (heel brake) of the wheels. Make sure you know where your brake is, else you’re going to have quite a bit of trouble learning to stop on inline skates.
We’ll start with the heel brake. This is the most common method to stop on inline skates. Once you realize you want to stop during your inline skating adventures, you’re going to gently shift your weight backwards and raise your toes until you’re pressing down on the heel with the brake. This means that you will have one foot that has all four wheels touching the ground and one foot with only the brake pad touching the ground. Using heel brakes tends to be an easier tactic than others on this list, so maybe try this one first.
Once the brake makes contact with the ground, you’ll begin to gradually lose speed until you come to a complete stop. However, because you’re required to shift your body weight backwards for this one, you may end up falling on your butt! As such, be sure to practice this one in a comfortable setting or while wearing your knee pads, elbow pads, and your helmet to avoid a serious injury, such as a sprained or broken wrist or ankle.
Using the front brake is very similar to using the back brake (understandably). For this one, you’re going to shift your body weight slightly forward to lean forward—careful!—and lift your heel up so that your toes are trying to touch the ground. Think about when you try to gain a few inches by standing on your tiptoes—that’s the sensation you’re going for, but only on one foot.
Keep in mind that, when you’re using this method for braking, you need to be very careful. As soon as you put that forward brake down on the ground, all your forward momentum is going to be halted. This means that, if you’re not careful or if you’re leaning too far forwards, you are going to fall forward onto your knees and/or onto your face. Use this one if you need an immediate stop on inline skates and you don’t mind potentially falling forward onto the ground.
One final thought on heel braking and front braking while inline skating. Whenever you’re about to use your rollerblades, double-check that your brake is still in good condition! As you use the rubber cube that makes up your rollerblade brake, it will begin to wear down from contact with the road. If it continues to erode, you’ll eventually have a rubber bit that doesn’t do anything—it won’t even look pretty. If you’re worried that your brake is wearing thin, buy another one to replace it; most inline skates make it very easy to switch the brake out, so always make sure that your gear is in good condition when it comes to inline skating.
USE A WALL OR OTHER STABLE/STATIONARY OBJECT
Now, this one might seem self-explanatory, but this wouldn’t be a very good list if it excluded the obvious stopping techniques! Using the wall to stop can work one of two ways, but only if you’re not going the speed of sound.
Either version of this method is really helpful for if you’re starting out and trying to work on your balancing skills—in fact, if you need to work on your balance and your braking, wall braking can help kill two birds with one stone when it comes to your stopping technique. As long as you are going at a slow speed, this is a great method. Try not to lean forward or backward to try and learn decent skating posture.
- The first method will have you skate alongside a wall. Place yourself perpendicular to the wall (so that, if you spread your arms out like you’re pretending to fly, your fingers will brush the wall) and start to skate. At any point that you feel like you’re going too fast or that you need to work on your braking, slide your hand along the wall and use the friction from that to slow your speed.
If this is a method you’re trying to use, you may want to make sure you have some sort of covering or protection for your hands so that you don’t end up scraping them all up. To prevent the chance of additional scrapes, it helps if you only do this along relatively smooth surfaces. No chain link or chicken wire fences here, folks.
- The second method is the more obvious one when it comes to “using the wall to stop on your rollerblades.” Again, make sure that you’re not coming in too hot or too fast with this method, or else you’re going to go the way of a cartoonish pancake on the wall. If you’re skating forward and you want to stop, just aim for the wall. Place your hands in front of you (palms extended) to brace yourself, and use your hands to cushion the blow as you crash into the wall.
Similar to the front brake method, this is an instantaneous stopping technique, so if you’re not careful with it, you’re definitely going to get hurt. Since it’s unlikely you’re looking to get seriously injured while learning how to rollerblade, take care with this braking method. Only use this one in dire situations—ones where there’s no other way of stopping—or when you lose control. If it comes down to slamming into the wall to stop, pray that your arm strength is good enough to keep your face from getting up close and personal with your chosen flat surface.
“Running out” means purposely targeting a patch of dirt, grass, rocks, etc. and allowing the change from pavement/asphalt to a separate terrain to naturally slow you down. It’s much nicer (and less painful) if you choose dirt or grass, but rock does work in a pinch . . . it just may also lead to more than a few bruises and scrapes.
Running out is a tried and true method for slowing to a stop, and it has the added bonus of not stopping you immediately, which means you’re less likely to faceplant when running out than when using the front brake. While you keep your knees slightly bent, check that you have a decent handle on your balance and try to keep upright. This way, you’ll be less likely to fall, but it’s not a guarantee of safety.
Also, if you do end up using the running out method, make sure to clean your inline skates so that they’re free of whatever debris might’ve gotten stuck to them.
PIZZA SLICE/PIE SLICE/PLOW STOP
The pizza slice or pie slice—or even the pizza pie slice if you want to split the difference—is one that should be very familiar to anyone who has even a passing familiarity with skiing. It is also sometimes known as the plow stop, but that’s less fun and reminiscent of tasty foods. The pizza pie slice has the added benefits of:
- It’s less likely to make you take a header into asphalt, a wall, or gravel.
- It makes you think of either (a) delicious, cheesy goodness or (b) flaky, buttery and sugary crusts.
- Can be done on flat expanses or even downhill!
To do the pizza pie slice, you must gently bend your knees and angle your toes inward. Your toes will still be pointing forward, but they will just be slightly crooked—if you are looking down, your feet will make a V shape, like a pizza or pie slice. This is one of the best ways to stop as a beginner on inline skates. Keeping your knees bent and your toes angled inward, you’ll begin to slow down as long as you keep your balance. (This is another one for Team Gradual Stop, just so you know.)
And, as mentioned above, the pizza pie slice/plow stop has the added benefit of being completely transferable! Once you know how to pizza pie slice/plow stop with rollerblades or with skis, you’ve learned it for the other, as well.
Two for the price of one!
Have you ever wanted to feel like Kate Winslet from that iconic Titanic scene? Well, your time has come! Don your best wig and make sure you have the perfect sunset backdrop before you use this braking technique.
Using air resistance as a braking technique works best on a flat surface and will likely prove ineffective on a downhill slope. But for this one, once you’ve decided that the need for speed is a thing of the past, you’ll fling your arms wide open as if you’re about to give someone a big, ol’ hug, and then keep your arms outstretched. The act of spreading your arms out like that makes your body larger and, as such, means that there is more area for wind to push back against.
This method requires patience—and is, perhaps, more of a slow stop than even heel braking—as the battle between your forward momentum and the pressure of air resistance will gradually bring you to a stop.
The time has come again to make more shapes in order to stop on your inline skates. For the T Stop Braking Technique, you’re going to be blading like normal, but then, once you want to stop, you’ll gently rotate your trailing foot (the foot that is in the back) so that it’s perpendicular to your leading skate (the foot in the front). This is called the T Stop position or T position.
When it comes to the T Stop, many find it easier to rotate their non-dominant foot (and thus, keep their dominant foot pointed forward), but you must find what works and is most comfortable for you. The T Stop is another braking technique that will gradually slow you down, but does also run the risk of making you lose your balance.
Make sure that your feet aren’t touching when you attempt this braking technique—you want to slowly move your trailing foot into the T Stop position, but you do not need to make an actual, connected “T” for this braking technique; your leading foot will keep its toes pointing forward. As with all the others on this list, use your best judgement and best protections to make sure you’re as safe as can be while you’re learning these critical skills.
For the zig-zag braking technique, you will avoid walls, grass patches, using air resistance and the like, and you will, in fact, have gravity as your partner in crime to help you in your stopping campaign.
For the zig-zag, you’ll be coming to a slow stop by slowly drifting to the opposite side of whatever lane you’re on until you’re almost perpendicular with the sidewalk; if you’re on the left side of a road, you will angle yourself to the right and vice versa. This first movement will slow you down. You will then drift back from your current side of the road to the other side and make sure that you’re almost perpendicular to the sidewalk again; if you’re now on the right side of the road, you will angle yourself back to the left and vice versa.
Keep doing this slow back-and-forth motion until you’ve used up all of your momentum and come to a complete (and safe!) stop.
All in all, there are many ways to learn how to stop when you’re on rollerblades. At the end of the day, however, you need to know and recognize that you’re going to fall when it comes to braking with inline skates. It just comes down to making sure you fall on your terms and in such a way that you do your best not to get injured!
As such, make sure to always wear proper protection (knee pads, elbow pads, and the like), including always wearing a helmet!