If you want to become a good skater, besides attending a 2- or 5-day Camp Rollerblade, there is no better way than to take advantage of the nearest certified instructor a minimum of three times in your skating career. The dedicated folks who have taken the time and effort to earn a certificate from a national body like the United Skate Schools Group (USSG) or the International Inline Skating Association (ISSA) are invariably passionate about skating and sharing its joys with others.
From novice to advanced beginner. It is so much easier and faster to conquor the basics with a little qualified help. It is virtually impossible to learn how to properly use the heel brake without instruction (one reason some people simply remove it).
In a beginner lesson, you will not only learn how to master the heel brake, you will learn proper striding, effective turning, how to fall and get up, and how to control unwanted speed. If one lesson doesn't do it, simply take another until you are comfortable enough to practice on your own.
If you cannot find a group lesson in your area, please consider a private lesson for this first, most important experience of your budding skating career.
See also: The Beginner's Checklist, designed to ensure a fun and safe start, and the Instructor locator tool.
From advanced beginner to intermediate. If you feel you're looking pretty good, it's time for your second essential lesson. Regardless of how well you skate the local bike path, you will remain an advanced beginner until you move beyond the basic skills.
When are you ready? This can vary widely and really depends on the person and desire to progress. The average person is ready after about 20 hours of skating. For the more timid or those who have no athletic background, this could take up to a year.
An intermediate lesson teaches you how to use your outside wheel edges. (Advanced beginners are still only using their inside edges.) Both balance and confidence are required before you can learn how make elegant and high-powered parallel, lunge and crossover turns. This lesson will also help you power up your stride. Of course, there are other fun intermediate skills, too, like backward skating and switching from frontwards to backwards and vice versa.See also: The Intermediate's Checklist on this site to find ways to expedite your skating skills.
From intermediate to fitness skater. This third lesson is only essential for those with certain goals: take it when you want to start using inline skating as the foundation for a low-impact fitness lifestyle. At this point, you own (or are ready to buy) lightweight skates built for speed and stability, possibly even 5-wheel skates. You anticipate building your cardiovascular endurance as you increase your skate mileage. You may be considering participation in an inline marathon. Many inline instructors have extra fitness-related certifications, whether it's the Fitness / Level 3, or RollerFitness, or Fitness Inline Training (FIT). We are just as passionate about fitness as we are about skating, and love helping others prepare for a long skating event or meet other fitness goals on skates.See also: Off-Skate Training for Fitness Skaters programs for a holistic approach to this lifestyle.