Tricks Aren’t Just for Kids

(Updated article from 1996)

Because all the world is not a stage (flat, smooth, protected), I make time in every lesson to help my students work on real-world skills and drills designed to improve overall balance and agility. Aside from the safety aspect, it’s always fun to have a frisky move or two to impress your friends.¬† As always, gear up before experimenting.

Get Air

How are your hopping skills? Being able to get both skates off the ground at the same time is a prerequisite to hopping up a curb. Out in the real world, this is an essential safety skill: it’s often necessary to hop over an electrical line seen at the last minute. Try your first hops on the lawn or carpet and remember these key points:

  • Do start from a crouch for good springing power
  • Do push off from a flat foot so you go straight up
  • Don’t spring off from your toes (or your skates will roll backwards
  • Don’t spring off from your heels (or your skates will roll forward and you will land on your rear)
  • Don’t go for height until you’ve mastered tiny hops while rolling at a slow speed on the pavement

Curb Coolness

 Since curbs are an inevitable part of skating in most locations, you might as well look cool rather than geeky. Make sure your practice spot is in a low traffic area.

Skating off a curb is the easy direction, so let’s learn that first. A word to the wise: don’t approach too slowly, or your brake can catch on the edge of the curb where it might trip you.

  1. On a sidewalk, head for your first curb at an angle, not in a straight line. This makes it easier to keep your balance.
  2. As you approach the edge, make sure your knees are bent and hands visible near your waist.
  3. Push one skate forward about half a skate length. Not only will this improve your fore-to-aft balance, it will make your first “descent” less traumatic.
  4. Do not jump up as you go off the curb. Just relax and roll off, letting your body drop the short distance to the pavement.

Hopping up onto a curb requires self confidence in your ability to clear such a towering obstacle. You must know you can jump at least six inches high and land without losing your balance. Here’s how to build up your confidence:

  1. To warm up, practice on the flats, jumping over cracks, leaves or invisible curbs. See how high you can pick up your feet.
  2. When you jump, try to tuck your feet up and out to one side so you can actually slap one of your heels. Once you can do this easily, you know you can jump high enough to clear the curb.
  3. Now you’re ready. Roll towards a likely curb, preferably at a corner where you can continue rolling on the sidewalk after you land.
  4. Just before you reach the curb, hop high and make sure your feet and knees come up high, too. If you need to, use your arms to help throw yourself upwards.
  5. Land in the ready position with one foot advanced for balance. After the first curb they’ll all be easy.

Heel-Toe roll

Here’s a stunt to impress your friends. (For this one, you must have only one heel brake.)

  1. Coasting slowly on smooth, flat pavement, with knees flexed and your feet close together, raise both arms out to the sides for balance.
  2. Lift the right heel (or the heel of the skate with the brake), so that you are rolling on that skate’s front wheel plus all four wheels on the left.
  3. Shift your weight back slightly, so that it is evenly balanced over both skates.
  4. Push your left skate forward and in line with your rear skate, and tip up the toe until you’re rolling on just the back wheel.
  5. Now that you are rolling forward on one toe wheel and one heel wheel see how far apart you can spread your skates apart–without falling down!


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.