We’ve told you about things like the history of roller skating, parts of roller skates, roller skating tricks, and the benefits of roller skating. But what we really haven’t given its due is stopping. We all would want to skate forever if we could, but alas, there are times when we have to stop. This post is about some of the various ways you can stop if necessary. We encourage you to try them all—and any others you find—and decide which one(s) works best for you.
We’ll include methods of stopping for both roller skates and rollerblades—there are some methods that don’t work for both types of skates. As always, we advise you to wear protective equipment at least while you’re practicing.
Use your knee pad. Obviously this is a stop you can only do if you’re wearing protective equipment, but it’s a very simple stop for any new or uncertain skaters. All you have to do is lower one knee to the ground slowly and drag it behind you. It’s best as a backup stopping technique; you don’t want to rely on it because knee pads aren’t designed for braking—especially at high speeds—but it’s good for beginners because it takes so little skill to perform.
Use the toe or heel brake. Roller skates usually come with toe stops and inline skates/rollerblades with one or two heel brakes, so this is ultimately the best simple stop to perform. The best way to do either of these stops is with legs scissored, one forward and the other back. For roller skates, lift the heel of your back foot, put pressure on the toe stop, and maintain that pressure until you stop moving; for rollerblades, lift the toe of your forward foot and apply pressure to the brake until you stop moving.
Try the spinout stop. If you’re comfortable with turns, place one foot down firmly and let the other draw a wide circle around you. What this does is take your forward momentum and turn it into circular motion, which means it’s also good if you just want to slow down rather than stop. When practicing this, you may find it easier and more effective to start with your dominant foot (the one you push off from when you start walking).
To make this technique work better, spread your legs just beyond shoulder-width and bend your knees a little more. You’ll want your feet a little wider than your shoulders, but not so much it’s painful or hinders your ability to maneuver too much. Then turn your toes in just a little. This makes your skates’ wheels roll at a bit of an angle, which creates that friction that slows you down.
Keep in mind that if you do this the skates will naturally try to make your feet move closer, so you want to make sure your toes are turned in just a teeny bit to slow you down. Turn them in too far and there’s a good chance you’ll fall.
Slowly let your feet come together. This may cause you to feel unsteady, so take your time and remember to keep your knees bent. When your feet are close, let your inside (roller skates) or front (rollerblades) wheels gently come into contact with each other. This will create more friction to stop. Just be careful that it doesn’t happen too suddenly or you’re likely to trip yourself up and fall.
NOTE: This move forces you to roll on one foot for a short time, so you should get comfortable doing that before you try this stopping method.
To start, make sure your knees are slightly bent. This will lower your center of gravity and help your balance. Scissor your legs a little (it may help to have your dominant foot ahead and your non-dominant behind the first few times), making sure both feet are still pointing forward, and shift most of your weight to your front/dominant foot so your back foot is ready to move. It might feel awkward at first and it takes a lot of balance, so you may find yourself having to practice that part for a while.
Lift your back foot from the ground just enough to turn it sideways, toes pointed out. You want it to be as near to a ninety-degree angle to your front foot as possible. With your legs still scissored, place it on the ground about a foot behind your front foot, all wheels down. Your back foot is likely to come down at a little bit of an angle, so don’t slam your foot down or put too much weight on it—just add a little pressure.
The important part is to keep your hips aligned forward and keep your front foot pointing wherever you want to go. If you let your hips turn sideways it might be more comfortable, but instead of going forward you’ll start to skate in a curve or spin around. So keep your hips aligned with your front foot. You’ll get used to the sensation with practice.
Still without putting a lot of weight on your back foot and keeping all wheels in touch with the ground to maximize friction, drag it behind you. As you feel comfortable with your balance, you can apply a little more pressure to your back foot to help you stop. The more pressure you apply the faster you’ll stop, but apply too much too fast and you increase your chances of falling. So determine how much room you’ll need to stop (the faster or more novice you are, the more room you’ll need), gauge how much room you have, and use the appropriate amount of pressure to stop you at the right time.
Parallel Slide/Hockey Stop
This is essentially a very fast, tight turn to the left or right that’s very good on smooth surfaces but takes time and practices to get right. It’s arguably a more advanced stopping method because it’s best done at higher speeds; doing it slowly will almost require a jump to set it up.
To perform this maneuver, decide which direction you want to turn. As you lean into your turn, make sure the foot on the side you’re turning to is leading slightly (i.e., left foot ahead for a left turn, right foot ahead for a right turn) and let your other foot follow. Keep your knees bent for the whole move to help your balance; the lower you go the better your balance will be.
You should make sure you practice all the stops we’ve listed here, plus any more you hear about (we definitely haven’t covered them all). Different situations will call for different techniques; some of these stops may be faster or slower than others and either unnecessary or unsuitable for every situation. We’ve had you practice going until now, but it’s just as important to practice stopping.
Also, expect to fall often while practicing these—especially the ones that rely on your feet being somewhere other than directly beneath you. In any case, too much or too little pressure during a stop attempt can cause you to overbalance and throw you off your feet. That’s why we STRONGLY recommend wearing protective equipment at least while you’re practicing these techniques.