By Liz Miller
As a skill in its own right, the scissors coast doesn't get a lot of
respect because once we learn it, we tend to take it for granted. But
this component of heel braking is a building block for so much more than
just making effective stops. A
scissors stance is ideal for gliding safely and easily over nasty patches
of pavement like raised edges or tree roots, large cracks or rough patches.
in point: Last weekend, Dan rolled
in a scissors for at least 25 feet before tumbling onto the (unmarked!)
gravel patch shown in this photo. He'd been surprised at high speed
after skating around a blind, sunny corner. Dusting himself off as
he surveyed his tracks in the rubble, he observed,
"I would have crashed much sooner and much harder if I hadn't
entered this in a scissors." Whew!
In the scissors stance your wheels form a longer platform that gives
you more front-to-back stability, which means you have more room to lurch
without losing your balance when your skates roll over the obstacle one
skate at a time.
After you master your scissors coast, each time you start rolling down
a long hill, it will be easy to lightly engage the heel brake to prevent
unwanted speed buildup. It's a useful stance for rolling off curbs. And
once you're comfortable doing it with either foot in front, it will be
that much easier to learn the three "corresponding edge" turns
that define the competent skater: parallels,
slaloms and crossovers.
Learn to scissors coast
- Stroke to gain a moderate speed.
- Relax into a coasting ready
position with skates parallel and knees close enough to touch
- Shift most of your weight to the brakeless skate (usually the left)
and slide your braking skate ahead with all wheels still touching the
pavement. (However, if you use a cuff-activated brake, you’ll
also need to advance the skate knee a bit to prevent brake engagement
or learn to reverse the stance for situations when braking won't be
Tip: The act of shifting your center over
the left foot should pull your right knee toward the left also,
resulting in the narrow stance.
You should be rolling forward in a narrow stance (skates within hip
bone width) with most of your weight on the back skate. Make sure your
wheels are perpendicular to the pavement, not tipped toward the inside.
Then aim for upright wheels on the right skate too.
At higher speeds, raise your arms and lower your hips over the rear
foot as you assume the scissors stance. This will increase stability
for the sudden need to roll off a trail onto an uneven surface.
- Keep both hands in view at waist level for better balance at first.
- Balance will improve with practice, so try for longer distances each
- When you feel dangerously wobbly, bring the brake skate back under
your hips and coast with your weight on both feet until you’re
ready to try again.
- Shift & Lift -
Practice this marching move while coasting at a comfortable speed in
the ready position. First, shift weight over the left skate, then raise
the right knee an inch or two and coast as far as possible. As this
becomes easier, try moving the airborne skate to the front, side and
behind as you roll.
Maybe you've been warned not to run with scissors, but I hope you now
understand why it's very important to learn how to roll with scissors!
Other August 2006 Stories
Mastery Ladder - Find your rung (physical capabilities) on my new
learning ladder and learn how to climb to the top.
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.
with Nordic Poles - Triathlete Joshua Delucca Colon describes his
journey learning a new way to cross train for endurance events.
Young Before Her Time - Brigitte plans to celebrate her 50th birthday
at the local skate park, doing what she loves best, hammering the half
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.
in Learning - Get Rolling.com earns an award of excellence; college
text book features Liz Miller’s Inline Skating chapter among
Ankle booties may just be exactly the accessory you need for your
favorite human-powered sports.
Crossing - Online destinations where skaters congregate and find
Skate Wheels - Maybe they aren’t so crazy after all!