Rollerblading is a great way to keep fit and a fast route into performing big-air tricks on the skatepark. Skates are plentiful, relatively cheap and can be used pretty much anywhere there’s a hard surface. All this makes rollerblading a perfect gateway sport into the action sports world.
The FISE World Series showcases some of the best rollerbladers in the world. Each stop they push the boundaries of the sport. It’s enough to make anyone want to strap on a pair of skates and hit the park!
But, before you start dropping in on the vert ramp, let’s take it from the beginning and cover what you need to start rollerblading.
Grab your gear
Step 1 – buy your blades. There’s nothing worse than an ill-fitting pair of roller blades, so make sure you go to the store and try them on first. Find a pair that place the tips of your toes just against the front of the boot when standing upright and slide slightly away when you bend your knees. Your boots should be a snug fit – loose fitting boots will cause painful blisters and, more importantly, reduce your stability when skating.
Step 2 – buy your helmet and pads. No arguments here – buy a helmet. The more you progress in rollerblading (and it will be fast), the bigger tricks you’re going to attempt, which means greater the risk of injury. We’ve seen some savage crashes on the FISE circuit, crashes that could have seriously hurt riders if it wasn’t for their safety gear. Knee pads are also a must, and we’d recommend elbow pads and gloves too when you’re starting off. Your skin is precious!
Find your balance
Standing up on blades for the first time is a unique feeling. There will be limbs everywhere and more often than not it will end up with you on your backside. But stick at it! To get your bearings, try walking with your blades on a patch of grass first. Grass provides enough traction that you won't begin to roll. It's the best way to practice your balance before you get started. When you can take a few steps forward without waving your arms everywhere, you can move onto the next phase…
Time to glide
Look for a smooth, flat piece of ground (preferably concrete or tarmac) where you can practice gliding. As a beginner, your movements in rollerblading should be smooth and long. As you put one foot forward, push it back to glide before placing your other blade on the ground, alternating from foot to foot. Go slowly at first to test your abilities then pick up speed.
Most rollerblade sets come with a rubber stopper brake on the back of one blade. As a beginner, we recommend you use this at first. But, as you get more comfortable, it’s good to practice stopping using the length of your blade. When you’re getting ready to stop, shift your weight to the foot without the stopper. Bring your brake foot around so it's behind and perpendicular to your non-stopper, then gently apply pressure to the stopper to apply the brake. The T-shape of your feet should give you extra stability as you slow to a stop. If you don't have a heel brake, apply pressure across the full length of the blade (feet still in a T-shape) and drag your back foot until you come to a stop.
Learn to turn
You’re going to have to turn at some point. Once you have some forward momentum, scissor the leg opposite to the direction of the turn forward. If you're turning left, put your right foot over and in front of the left. Bend the corresponding leg into the turn as your right leg swings out and back to its starting position as it stabilises the change in direction. Once you have the hang of it, you can speed up a turn by rotating your torso as your scissor legs swings around.
Time for tricks
Alright, so now you’ve got the skating down. Find yourself a skate park, join the roller community and try some jumps. Look up these tricks for beginners that’ll give you a good grounding:
· Flat spin
· Barrel Roll
To see how good you could be come, make sure to tune in to the FISE World Series and see some of the best athletes in the world shred the skate park. The next stop is on the World Series is Chengdu from 1 – 5 November. Catch all the action live on FISE channels.