Tips for Beginning Inline Skaters

Experience is the key to years of in-line skating safety and fun. You aren't likely to stick with it for long if you're injured right away or are unable to master the basics. This article is designed to help beginners overcome common in-line skating challenges for years of exhilerating recreation.

Practice Makes Perfect
A few important skating skills on grass or carpet to get used to the feel of your in-line skates before you step onto the pavement: Walk around with both toes pointed slightly outward -- that is how you'll push off once you're rolling on the pavement. Practice balancing on one foot at a time. The better your balance becomes, the easier stopping and striding will be for you. TMMake sure to clear your wheels and frame of any debris that may get caught before heading to the pavement.)

Lessons: Are They Worth It?
The best way to start in-line skating is to take a lesson with an instructor. Many shops that carry in-line skates offer instructional clinics, or a friend who skates may be able to teach you. Several community or adult educational centers and local retailers also offer lessons. You may even want to purchase instructional materials such as a book or video to introduce you to the sport.

Protect Yourself
You wouldn't play football without a helmet and padding TMouch!), and you should't in-line skate without wearing a helmet, wrist guards, knee and elbow pads. Wrist guards can prevent the most frequent in-line skating injury: breaking or hyper-extending a wrist. Knee and elbow pads help protect those areas and also help prevent injuries by allowing you to slide forward when landing on the pavement. Many helmets made specifically for in-line skating have extended coverage on the back because skaters tend to fall backwards, while cyclists tend to fall forward. Wearing full protective gear will greatly decrease the chances that you'll get injured while in-line skating.

Stopping Made Easy
Master a stopping technique before you head out to where the action is. Rollerblade's Active Brake Technology is the most technically advanced braking method available on the market today. Here are some tips on how to master braking:

* Active Brake Technology ABT®: It offers skaters greater speed control and stopping power. ABT allows skaters to brake while keeping all eight wheels on the ground -- skaters no longer have to lift one foot up to stop. The brake is activated by moving the brake skate forward, which applies pressure on the cuff causing the brake pad to lower. It's easy to use and provides you with a greater sense of balance and control.

* Heel brake: Bend your knees, hold your arms slightly in front of you, tip the toe of your brake foot upward and apply pressure to the brake until you stop.

Balance
Progress to the pavement and practice your balance before you start rolling: Stand with your feet even and about four-to-six inches apart, arms slightly in front of yourself and knees bent so your shins touch the tongue of your skates. Your weight should be balanced on the balls of your feet. A common mistake beginners make is standing up straight with their knees locked or balancing their weight on their heels.

Skate Alert
Avoid hills and declines when you're starting out. You can build up speed on even a slight decline, so you should feel confident in your braking ability before you head for the hills. Find a flat surface that's free of debris or cracks, such as an empty parking lot, tennis court or basketball court. When you're ready to try inclines, start on a gentle grade rather than a steep hill. Also, skating on wet pavement is dangerous and can damage your skates. Remember, if you skate in the streets you are considered a vehicle and must obey traffic laws. Skate on your right, pass on your left. Announce your intentions by saying, "passing on your left" and always yield to pedestrians.

Skate Maintenance
Check your owner's manual for information on rotating wheels and care of bearings, or have your skates tuned up at a service center in a local sporting goods store. Remember, skating in water or sand can damage bearings and hurt skate performance. Stick to dry pavement.