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Inline Skating Newsletter Article

Inline Mastery Ladder

By Liz Miller

Realistic expectations for conquering the basic moves

The typical beginning skater can learn safety practices and the basic turn and forward stride within one lesson. Other skills take longer to build, especially when a narrow stance and good balance are required (for example, Scissors Coasting to effectively use the heel brake). Of course, many factors affect how fast each individual will progress, including activity and fitness levels, degree of fear, and hours of practice time.

Find your current rung below and take it from there! Click a rung to read about the technique in articles from the Get Rolling Orbit library.

The Inline Mastery Ladder; a typical learning sequence. Copyright 2006, Liz Miller Get Rolling Skate School Increase your pushing power Discover the Skater's Edge Parallel Turns Made Easy Hovering Over the Sweet Spot The Spin Stop video How to get down anything! Multiple articles! Basic StridingScissors CoastMastering SwizzlesGive yourself a brakeBasic Turning Basic Stride

How to use this chart

To sustain your early enthusiasm, you need realistic expectations about how you are likely to progress in learning the skills that make skating fun and safe. You should also know that the body builds sport-specific balance and coordination little by little. This ladder represents the skill-mastery sequence I have witnessed and cultivated in over a dozen years of teaching beginning skaters. To properly master inline skating, each rung is a pre-requisite for the next above. So...

  • Start from the bottom. This is typically is where young children and non-active beginning adults start the climb. That said, beginners with an athletic background may master all the rungs below the critical scissors coast on their own or in a one-hour lesson.
  • Tip your head and read each side of the ladder to see what influences learning. The left side shows a broad skill category that corresponds to the comfort level of skaters as they learn to use their wheel edges. However, for certain skills, edging may be superseded by practice time or coordination. These influences are shown on the right side of the ladder.
  • Sign up for appropriate instruction, regardless of current mastery level. Most skaters need coaching to learn the corresponding edge skills in the upper rungs. Without instruction, they may never even realize these skills exist, much less learn the joy of doing them.

The higher you climb the ladder, the more practice time you will spend. The good news is that once you've mastered one rung, you rarely ever have to think about it or the ones below it again because the skill has become part of your physical foundation of capabilities, available for any related activity. Meanwhile, you can and should practice non-rolling stances and building drills to develop muscle memory for inline skills that are several rungs above your current capabilities.

A qualified instructor can really help speed your learning curve. For safety's sake, a beginner lesson will always focus on delivering the inline basics: Stride 1, A-Frame turn and heel brake use. Other instructors may disagree with my perspective of inline mastery sequence, but we all agree that there are first-day skaters who will not master braking right away. A good instructor will show you how to work on the individual braking components in an achievable sequence: ready position coast, scissors coast and finally, braking itself.

I hope my chart motivates you to be patient as you continue climbing the inline mastery ladder, rung by rung.

Other August 2006 Stories

bulletred picture Technique: Scissors Coast - Proper respect for the one building skill that every skater needs the most and then takes for granted forever after.

bulletred picture Treat Your Feet - Tips to help you treat tired or crampy feet and lower legs after a long day on wheels, plus advice for pain prevention.

bulletred picture Skating with Nordic Poles - Triathlete Joshua Delucca Colon describes his journey learning a new way to cross train for endurance events.  

bulletred picture Growing Young Before Her Time - Brigitte plans to celebrate her 50th birthday at the local skate park, doing what she loves best, hammering the half pipes.

bulletred picture Point Isabel Trail in Richmond, CA - Tracing the San Francisco Bay shoreline, this bike trail offers views of the Golden Gate Bridge with whirling pelicans and seagulls overhead.

bulletred picture Leader in Learning - Get earns an award of excellence; college text book features Liz Miller’s Inline Skating chapter among 41 others.

bulletred picture Review: eZeefit Ankle booties may just be exactly the accessory you need for your favorite human-powered sports.

bulletred picture Skater Crossing - Online destinations where skaters congregate and find information.

bulletred picture Mini Survey: Non-reversing Skate Wheels - Maybe they aren’t so crazy after all!

Related Links

All About Momentum

Beginner Checklist

Intermediate Checklist

How many lessons? (chart)

Top 10 Learning Opportunities

(in recommended order)

2. Local instructor

3. Camp Rollerblade

4. Learn-to-Skate Tour

5. Group skating

6. Zephyr Skating Adventure

7. Skating event

8. Marathon Training

9. Half or full marathons

10. Speedskating camp