Get Rolling Logo

Inline Skating Newsletter Article

Technique: Scissors Coast

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.

Yikes, gravel!Case 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

  1. Stroke to gain a moderate speed.
  2. Relax into a coasting ready position with skates parallel and knees close enough to touch each other.
  3. 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 needed.)

    Scissors photoTip: 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 left skate’s 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.

Balance tips:

  • Keep both hands in view at waist level for better balance at first.
  • Balance will improve with practice, so try for longer distances each time.
  • 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

bulletred picture Inline Mastery Ladder - Find your rung (physical capabilities) on my new learning ladder and learn how to climb to the top.

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!