Rollerblade Tricks

I have been skating for over 5 years and have accumulated quite a few tricks that I would like to share with you. I would right away like to point out that I am not an agressive skater, i.e a skater who goes in a pipe. I am also not a street skater in the sense that I dont "grind" benches or do crazy stunts in stairs. I would like to call myself a plain surface skater, and this implies that all my tricks occur on plain surface and mostly with not much speed involved. These are tricks for the regular normal skater to learn. And here they are...

Standing on your skates

This means exactly what it says. Is this a trick or not? Well if you've never skated before simply standing on your skates could be quite tricky.  I suggest starting out on a soft surface like some grass and just stand for a while and taking steps in different directions so that even though you don't know how to skate with your rollerblades you at least know how to walk with them.

Rolling on your skates

Rolling for the first time with your skates can be quite nervy. Balance is what this is all about and to improve it training is all what it is about.  A good idea is to find a surface that slants slightly and just roll until you stop.  Then have a friend pull you back up so you can do it all over again.  Another good idea is to practice the rolling  some place where there are two things to hold on either side - like two rails of some sort or two walls if you happen to have access to a narrow corridor.

Skating with your skates

The skating motion is the one that lets you actually advance on your skates by your own force. Skating for example lets you go up a hill or go as fast as a biker. There is actually a whole science on the skating motion but all you need are the basics.  Start by rolling a little with your feet parallell.  Then lift one foot and quickly put it ahead of the other foot before you loose your balance. Then slide the feet back in parallell again and then lift the other foot and put it slightly ahead. Remember that you need to be rolling down a slight hill in order to do this.  The next training step is: when you lift the one foot forwards - push away with the other foot. (Picture this like that familiar attacking motion you see in fencing) For the pushing away to work you need to shoot forwards the foot with a slight angle, otherwise if you shoot and push with feet in parallell you'll end up not going anywhere. Realise that wheels slide forwards but not sideways.  This is what lets you both push and glide on your rollerblades - i.e this is what lets you skate.

Doing wavers

I call this wavers, cause I can't think of a better name. You've probable seen it before. It's when you push your feet outwards and then pull them back in again in a repeated fashion - like your feet are going in waves.

         ----           ----         ---
  --               ---            ---          ---
  --               ---            ---           ---
         ----           ----          ---

Turning with your skates

Turning on your skates is what you use to change direction. Some are able to do this right away. Others just go in a straight line until crashing into something (or someone). But how do you do this? Well, if you've practiced wavers (the trick above), you have a good advantage. Start by rolling forwards in a down hill slope. Your feet should be in parallell. Next you simply push to the side with one of your feet. This will make you turn to the other side. So to turn right you simply push to the side with your left foot. And then vice verca. If your feeling trouble with your balance put your feet wider apart.

Braking on your skates

You soon find out that being able to stop on your skates could be nice, especially if you're heading right into a busy intersection. To do this you'll use the brake cushion that is mounted on the lower back of one of your skates. (If this is not the case you have the other braking system which is much easier to learn.)  To train braking it's ideal to have a slight downhill. Now the technique.  The foot that you're gonna brake with you will first slide in front of the other. (Just this simple move requires some balance so it is something you can train on separately.).  Then you will bend your knees and your body slightly over the skates,  sort of like sitting on your skates. Now you're in the braking position. Now you want to tilt your foot so that the brake cushion makes contact with the surface.  As you feel the brake cushion scraping against the surface you are actually braking.
      In the beginning it's easy to loose your balance doing this. Just keep trying it and your balance will eventually get better and so will your braking
      If you feel you can brake but not efficiently enough,  i.e   not quickly enough,  here are some other tips...  As you brake you wanto push your body away from the braking skate - shooting the braking foot forwards and your body backwards at the same time. Do it as if you wanted to go the other way.  Another thing is to really pull your toes upwards when braking using the muscles in your ancle. This will cause the brake cushion to be pushed down harder against the surface and you'll brake faster.

Skating on one foot

Training this is a good way to increase your overall balance (so you wont fall as often) and is a good basis to being able to do a lot of other tricks.  There is no real technique to this - all you need is to just keep on training it. So start by skating a little forwards so that you have a rolling motion and then just lift one of your feet so that you're standing solely on the other foot. And keep holding this until you loose your balance and is forced to put the foot back on the ground. Be sure not to be rolling too slowly because as with biking it is harder balancing standing still as it is rolling. Try alternating with the feet. One usually finds one foot easier than the other to balance on. The one foot that is off the ground - called the freeleg or the freefoot - can be put in different positions. For example you could stick it right out in front of you, you could have it hanging to the side of you, and you could bend your knee and have it slightly behind you. Training each and every of these will add to your repertoire of balance.
      There is good intermediary trick that you can train prior to this trick. It's where you get a little extra help with your balance by letting the free foot contact the surface with one of its wheels. The free foot can be placed either behind you touching the ground with its front toe wheel or in front of you touching the ground with its heel wheel.
      As you get better and can hold your balance for an extensive period you can train how straight a line you can skate on one foot. Even though I've been skating for 5 years I still have difficulties holding a straight line. After a couple of metres my skate just wants to turn inwards. It makes me suspect that it has a lot to do with the natural tearness to the sides of the wheels, and not only my lack of balance.

Skating backwards

Being able to skate backwards adds a new dimension to what you can do on your rollerblades. Tricks that can be done forwards can often be reused going backwards doubling the repertoire of possible tricks. But first lets concentrate on the basics:
        The technique used for skating backwards is different from that of skating forwards. When skating backwards you don't lift your feet as you do when skating forwards. Instead you repeatedly push the one foot and then the other away from you making your skates go in half circles.  When you're really good you'll be wiggling from side to side like a snake.
        A very good idea to learning going backwards is first to train wavers backwards (wavers was one of the tricks described at the top). You will then be pushing both feet away from you and then bringing them back in making you advance backwards. When you've mastered doing wavers backwards it's an easy step to transform that into skating backwards: instead of pushing both feet away from you, push one foot away from you at a time.  The faster you can do this in succession the faster you will be going backwards.
       If you feel that you've got the balance but the 'pushing away' just isn't working; try using your toes more. Also try bending your knees and waist more.

Doing a circle

This is where you turn one of the skates around to have one foot pointing forwards and the other foot pointing backwards. This position, which is called the surf position, will make you naturally move in an inner circle. This is similar to the way you commonly see girls spinning on ice, holding their hands to their chest.
        To do this trick you start out by skating forwards. Having a forwards motion you then bring one skate a little further back. This is the skate that will turn around and be pointing backwards as you're doing the circle. To do the turning of the skate you simply lift your heel slightly and then turn the foot inwards.
       Girls are better anatomically built than guys for doing this trick. Guys tend more to bend their knees than girls as they do this trick, thus ressembling a surfer more. There are actually people who are capable of going in a straight line when in the surf position. The coolness of the tricks you can achieve with this capability has in the past made me spend several hous trying to walk like Charlie Chaplin. Though still I cannot muster this trick.

Turning around

Turning around means that you are able to as you're going forwards on your skates to turn around and continue backwards without stopping first. Turning around is good for example if you wanto be going backwards fast. You simply skate forwards fast and then turn around. If your turning around technique is good you'll be continuing with almost the same speed backwards as you were going forwards.
           There are many different ways for turning around on rollerblades. You can jump up, spin around a half lap in the air and land with your feet backwards. You can also turn around standing on one foot which is common among figure skaters. However I will teach you the basic normal way:
           The move used to turn around starts out the same way as the move to doing a circle (described in the trick above). You slide the one foot backwards and turn it around inwards. Now, instead of holding that position and going around in a circle, you will then also turn the foremost foot around. Now you will have two feet pointing backwards so logically you're now going backwards (unless you lost all your momentum doing the turn around).

Doing Slalom

Slalom on rollerblades is great fun. It makes you feel alive. Just wiggle your body from side to side and hopefully your skates will do the same. Well,  it's not quite that easy, but if you already know how to turn (the trick described near the top), then slalom shouldn't be a problem (that is if you know how to turn in BOTH directions). Just turn left, and then turn right, and then left again, and then right, and so on. Use some cones or draw chalk marks in the ground to create your own custom made slalom course. The wider apart the marks are the easier it will be, cause you'll have more time to do the turns. Another thing that's interesting: you can vary:
          Yes, there are many ways to do the slalom. The normal way is to just have your feet in parallell, like when you're doing a normal turn. But you can also have the feet in line - one foot in front of the other. And hey, why not try it backwards. Or do it on one foot. Yes, one foot slalom is in fact a great way to improve balance needed for a lot of other tricks, for example the crossovers(described as the next trick). But even in itself, one foot slalom is great fun to watch. But how do I do it?
          The one foot slalom just needs a lot of practice. Turning on one foot is something new so the body and mind needs to get adjusted to it. When you get the hang of it you can use the free foot (the foot that is off the ground) to help you turn. Just swing it in the opposite direction of the turn. So to turn left, swing the free foot to the right, and vice verca. Some do this with the free foot sticking out straight behind them. Others have the leg raised in front of their body with the foot hanging down working as a pendelum. ... But hey, first learn the normal slalom.

Doing Crossovers

Crossovers is a very useful technique to learn. You can use it to make the turn around a street corner that much quicker. Crossovers consists of repeatedly crossing your outer foot over your inner foot, to make you go around in wide circle. If you've ever watched speed skating, crossovers is what speed skaters are doing when they're going in the curves. Figure skaters are also seen doing crossovers a lot, going backwards in big circles around the ice (yes, crossovers can also be done backwards).
           You can do crossover turning left or turning right. As with a lot of tricks one of the direction will feel more comfortable. A rule of thumb says that right-handed people feel happier turning left while left-handed prefer turning right.
            To get good at crossovers the key is is to train it a lot. As a beginner start out by simply walking the crossovers in a circle, doing every step in slow-motion with no real speed involved. The difficulty in crossovers lies in the fact that as your lifting your outer foot to cross it, you'll be going solely on your inner foot. This for many is a new experience and tends to feel acward. There is a technique called sculling that you can use to improve your ability to skating on your inner foot. In sculling you use your outer foot to repeatedly push away (like when on a sled) while the weight remains constantly on the inner foot, taking you around in a wide circle. Once your balance has improved  you'll be able to do the crossovers more fluently and faster.  You'll also feel a harmonic accelerating motion as your doing the crossovers.

Doing the Hockey Turn

The hockey turn will make you look classy. The hockey turn is like a normal turn, but instead of having the feet in parallell, you'll have one foot in front ot the other. More precisely, for a right hockey turn your right foot will be in the front and your left foot in the back. Vice verca for a left hockey turn. Like crossovers (the trick descrbed above), what makes this trick difficult is that during the turn, you'll be leaning on your inner skate. In the beginning this will be a huge factor, and you'll probably find yourself just coming to a halt when attempting the turn. Just keep at it, and you'll eventually get it (maybe even a place in the NHL).
             What makes the hockey turn so neat is that it can make you turn quicker. You can also hold the hockey turn position and go around in a circle until you run out of speed. The hockey turn will also let you have more narrow turns - make you turn on the spot. In fact, the hockey turn, if executed well, can make you come to a complete stop - another way of braking.
             Some other tips...  Turn your body in the direction of the turn. Also bend your knees slightly. For a quick turn: throw yourself into the turn; let your skates come a little behind and then let them accelerate through the turn to catch up with the rest of you. You can also train sculling (described in crossovers) - It will improve your ability to roll on the inner skate.

Criss Cross

Wow, is this ever a fun trick.  In crisscross you repeatedly cross and uncross your feet like a scissor. Normally you'll do this trick in a slalom course. Then you'll pass everyother cone with your feet crossed and the others with your feet uncrossed. This is illustrated in the figure below ('=' is your left foot and '-' is your right foot). Note that unlike crossovers both feet stay constantly on the ground.

         ===                  ---                   ===                ---
   ==          ==     --         --       ==         ==     --        --
-          o          ==        o          ==         o         ==         o         -
   --          --     ==         ==       --         --    ==         ==
         ---                  ===                   ---                ===


Wow, is this ever a fun trick. To come


Wow, is this ever a fun trick. To come

Mastering the 3-turns

3-turns is the name for a category of tricks where you turn around on only one foot. Yes you heard me right: one foot only. It typically looks like this: You're rolling forwards on one foot. You suddenly seem to spin around. Now you're going backwards on the same foot. Your other foot never touched the ground. How did you do this? Let's take this in more detail: Roll forwards on your right foot. Next you're going to spin a half lap clockwise. To do this you'll do the following all at the same time: lean forwards so your weight is at your toes, swing your arms from left to right, turn your upper body, turn your hips, and last of all rotate your skate inwards. To rotate on your skate: lift the heel from the ground, rotate the skate, and put the heel back on the ground.
           This is a real difficult trick and the description above is not quite perfect. Realise that during the turn your only contact with the ground is a single wheel. This is what makes this trick difficult. A good tip is to first train it indoors without the skates - standing still and then making the turn on your sock. Next you can do the turn outside with your skates holding on to a lamp post. 3-turns is very common in figure skating. In fact, during a routine a figure skater normally performs upto 40-50  3-turns. However, they do it so fast and smoothly that the spectators don't notice them. The name '3-turn' actually originates from figure skating. It comes from the shape in the ice that the skater creates when he does the turn: the number three.
            The 3-turn has many variants. You can alter the foot: left or right. You can alter the direction you spin: clockwise or anti clockwise. You can also alter the skating direction: forwards or backwards. When skating forwards the turn will be on your toe wheel. Keep the other foot hanging behind you. When doing it backwards the turn will be on your heel wheel. Here your other foot should be pointing out straight in front of you. To help you turn: put some lean on the skate. This is called skating on the edge of the skate. The lean should be in the same direction as the turn. For example, if your doing a forwards right-footed clockwise 3-turn, use the outside edge. If your doing the same trick anti-clockwise, use the inside edge.


this page is maintained by me, Simon Wrang