Have you ever tried roller skating backwards? It’s quite scary. Well, that’s the thrill of skating. But if you want to get it right, stick around, and I’ll show you how. Skating backwards is not an easy task. It takes years of practice, and even pro-skaters can sometimes find it a bit challenging. To help, I came up with simple tips that you can use to skate backwards without breaking any sweat.
First of all, before you decide to roller skate backwards, relinquish all control to the wheels. Yes, you heard that right! The only way you can find some sense of control while skating backwards is by not having any control all at. Remember how it felt skating for the first time? Yes, that’s the exact feeling I want you to have when practicing this neat trick. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get started, shall we.
Table of Contents Hide
- How to Roller skate backwards
- Tips for skating backwards
- Common mistakes you are likely to make when roller skating backwards
How to Roller skate backwards
I have listed below different ways I used to skate backwards when I first started. You can try each of these to see which ones you prefer. Once you get the hang of it, you can then make it your own.
I would usually ask people to learn to transition first before learning to skate backwards but if you are confident enough to try it now, then why not. Skating is all about confidence – the more confident you are, the more relaxed you will be. The more relaxed you are, the more you are likely to try new things and learn new tricks.
Also remember your posture, engage your core.
Pushing off a wall method
For this, you start by facing a wall and then use your hands to push yourself back away from the wall. This is a common method and is good for those who haven’t learnt to transition yet. Or you might have but are not very comfortable doing transitions.
Once you push yourself backwards using the wall, you can either enter into the split stance to give you momentum to start moving backwards or you can soften your knees with core engaged. The split stance is when you have one foot in front of the other, about hip width apart. Then you can push your feet left to right as you move along.
You can also do the backwards edging by putting one foot in front of the other so that they are in a straight line, and pushing yourself off the wall. You’ll find yourself coasting backwards.
Toe stop method
This involves simply using your toe stop to push yourself backwards. This will need to be combined with one of the other methods e.g. you use your dominant feet to push yourself with the toe stop while in the split stance and keep going. Then transition, push yourself again with your toes stop, split stance, then transition, etc.
Go into the split stance with your dominant foot in front. Then step on the front two wheels of your skates on your dominant foot while sitting back into your back foot. You want to make sure that your weight is resting on the non-dominant foot. Make sure you are not resting on your toe stop.
Then using your front foot, start tracing an S-shape on the floor while using your back foot to balance. It’s important your weight is on the back foot as this is what you are using to control how far back you’re going. You don’t want your back foot to slide all the way back and you end up losing control. Also, if you find that you are not moving, try leaning a bit more into it by moving your hips with the S, like you’re swaying to your favourite music.
Tracing a circle method
In my first experience with roller skates, I thought it’s easy to walk on them. But a few bruises later, I found that I was wrong. Most instructors will teach you to form a V-shape when skating. And the same case applies to skating backwards. What do I mean?
Well, forming a V-shape when skating backwards is a bit different than skating forward. You will have to make sure your heels are far apart, and your toes come close together. In this position, the only motion will be to go backwards. I’m pretty sure you will start feeling the backwards movement even before applying any push to your wheels.
You then start tracing a circle with your skates by spreading your heels and pushing the skates gently apart. You then point the heels back inward to make the V- shape again and repeat tracing the circle. Once you are comfortable with this, you can use one foot at a time to trace the circle and alternate as you move. Remember to keep your posture right. Soft knees, booty out, core engaged.
Tips for skating backwards
1. Learn to look back
Make sure you learn how to look back and practice until you get it right. The best way to do this is by making sure that you look and turn the top of your body (i.e. above the waist) in the direction of your back foot. E.g. assuming I’m in the split stance and my right foot is on the back, to look back I should twist my body into the right.
2. Slow is fast
The next step that I learned the hard way is that ‘slow is fast.’ When learning how to skate backwards, you have to take it slow. Start by taking one step, in this case, glide at a time. Push your wheels apart, then close the gap and repeat. That should steer you backwards. And every time, lift one leg and close the gap, then repeat the process.
More importantly, alternate the leg you will be lifting every time. That should give you a more linear movement. This process will help build on your trust. Technically speaking, moving forward is what we are all used to. Meaning, a backwards motion could potentially disorient your mind, and you will fall. To reduce injuries and minor mishaps, take time to learn the steps.
3. Safety Measures
In my early days on roller skates, I was given a sort of disclaimer; ‘Falling is part of the sport.’ And sure enough, I’ve fallen a couple of times. But through that, I learned how to ‘fall’ safely. Part of that lesson was that safety gears are essential. Before you attempt this process, always ensure you have protective equipment such as knee pads, elbow pads, and a helmet.
Another safety precaution is making sure you learn how to look back when skating. I already covered this above so please make sure you practice this. It’s important you see where you’re going so you don’t run into other skaters or trip over something.
That brings me to the next safety point. Ensure that your path or space is clear. That will reduce your chances of tripping on to items as you learn. More importantly, if you are unsure about skating backwards, it’s probably best if you do it in an open space.
4. Practice makes perfect
Without a doubt, you will only become better at skating backwards if you practice. The process will not be easy, but it’s worth it. As I said earlier, start slowly, and you will get there. Besides, no one learned how to skate on the first try. We all went through the ‘rookie’ stage and learned how to become better. That said if you’d like to hone your skills correctly, practice as many times as possible.
Common mistakes you are likely to make when roller skating backwards
Giving in to fear
Let’s face it, skating backwards is one of the scariest moves you will ever pull. But fear will only lead to making significant errors. So, instead of hiding the fact that you are afraid, face it. That’s the only way you will get better at roller skating backwards.
At the beginning of your practice, it’s okay to look down. But as you advance and continue to pick up the speed, you should avoid looking down.
I know this might be a bit disorienting, but you should avoid leaning forward. Only lean forward when you are skating forward. The same case applies when skating backwards.
Not knowing how to brake
You should learn how to slow down before taking your backwards skating to the next level. Braking will help you reduce the risks of injuries when skating. As you practice roller skating backwards, also learn how to brake in the process.
Well, there you have it! Whether you are using roller skates or inline skates, these steps should help you learn how to skate backwards. The most important part of skating backwards is forming a ‘V’ shape. That should kickstart the whole process.
Once you’ve learned how to apply this technique, the rest is all about confidence and practice, then you can make it your own. When you have built your confidence, you can start practicing more advanced backwards skating skills such as crossovers and swirls.
Without a doubt, to perfectly hone your backwards skating, you will need to practice as many times as possible. Also, practicing with friends helps a lot in terms of a confidence boost. So, instead of practicing this technique alone, why don’t you call up your skating buddies and do it together? Stick around for more interesting topics on the same, and you can also check out my other articles on different topics related to skating.