As a Skate Instructor and Coach, my key focus when teaching my students is how to skate safely all the time. I have successfully taught more than 2,000 beginners over the years to skate safely and still continue to do so.
Here, I’ll be covering the techniques on how to stop on rollerblades/inline skates. You can also use the same techniques to stop on quad skates and ice skates.
Table of Contents Hide
- Why Is It Important To Stop On Rollerblades Properly?
- Safety first
- Posture – The right stance
- Understanding Skate Surfaces and Wheels
- How To Stop On Rollerblades
- How to Stop on Rollerblades Going Downhill
- Using No Brakes To Slow Down
Why Is It Important To Stop On Rollerblades Properly?
It is important to practice how to plan and slow down before you turn and while approaching an object. Coming to a sudden stop on rollerblades poses serious risk to you and those around you as this can send you flying. On the other hand, not being able to stop at all would mean you’ll find yourself running into people and objects.
This can knock your confidence and hinder your progress as a beginner skater. Even confident skaters who have had a nasty fall struggle at times, to gain their confidence back. You should learn how to slow down first to a lesser speed before coming to a stop. Once you have practiced and are comfortable with doing this, you will be able to skate faster.
Before we get into how to stop on inline skates, there are few things we need to cover.
Always ensure you are wearing the right protective gear when you are roller skating. This includes a well fitted helmet, knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards where possible.
Posture – The right stance
You want to make sure your knees are bent slightly, so soft knees and a small bend in your back. This is to help you stay low while skating, with your hands close to your body and close to the ground.
In this stance, if you were to fall, you would be closer to the ground so not too much of a fall.
Remember, “Hands to yourself and close to your body”.
While skating, you should only reach for the ground at times of danger and distress. You want to avoid, as much as possible, falling on your hands or breaking a fall with your hands. This can seriously injure your wrist. Check out our article on how to fall safely when roller skating.
Understanding Skate Surfaces and Wheels
Skates roll like marbles on a floor. The smoother the floor, the better the skates roll. And the better you can skate and enjoy your skating, at least as a beginner.
Skate wheels are mostly polyurethane, not rubber. This is so that they stick to the floor under the weight of the skater and have near zero traction when the wheels come into contact with any liquid on the floor.
The wheels are also relatively small, right from 55 mm in artistic skating, to 76 mm in aggressive inline, to 80 mm in freestyle skating, to 110 mm in speed skating. Even the biggest skate wheels are tiny in comparison to an automobile wheel.
You must be very careful with bumps, holes in the surface and even small objects like pebbles, sticks, sand, gum, cloth, grass. They act as undesirable brakes. They catch your body by surprise when your mind is all about just rolling on. This can cause you to fall suddenly.
As a result, you can get bruised and injured at least in one place. Depending on the injury, it could take about 10 to 15 days (or more!) to heal.
To overcome this obstacle and sudden change in speed, you can skate with one foot in front and one at the back (also known as inline). This way, if the foot in front comes across an obstacle, you can immediately feel the change in texture and speed. You can then react accordingly and continue to skate safely without completely losing your balance. Like a pro ☺
Given that the surface is flat, your skating depends on the 3 directions of your feet – V, H & A.
- The V shape makes you go forward
- The H gets you into a Neutral position, usually used while rolling
- The A makes you go backwards
We covered this in detail in our Ultimate list of inline skate tricks for beginners article.
How To Stop On Rollerblades
Confidence is very important when skating. So how can you ensure you stop and stop the right way when skating? There are different techniques you can use depending on the scenario. To get you started, I have listed below the different techniques to use in different situations you might find yourself in.
1. How To Stop On Rollerblades With Brakes
Skates, like most things with wheels, can allow you to slow down first before coming to a sudden stop.
You will notice that other things with wheels (e.g. a bicycle) can reduce, arrest speed and slow down momentum. They have the mechanics and the braking system that allows for this. For beginner skates, they have a simple mechanism and a contraption, only on one foot.
As you advance, you can use a combination of about 3 to 5 different brakes and methods, first to slow down and then to stop. Like testing brakes in an automobile, you can only test the brakes when you engage the wheels in motion. Similarly, you can only test your braking abilities, techniques and skills only after you start moving on skates.
Inline Heel Brake
The inline heel brake is good for braking and very efficient. It is fixed to the heel portion of the right skate, in some models of skates the heel brake is interchangeable. Yet it’s only on one foot.
The way to correctly apply the heel brake is by bending your left knee and extending your right heel (the foot that has the brake) forward. Your right foot should be forward and your left foot at the back. As the brake touches the ground, you will slow down safely. Some instructors remove the heel brake right away, to allow the student to learn the many other ways to brake.
Quad Toe Brake
In quad skates, the brake is fixed to the skates in front, under the toe section of the skates. The toe brakes are applied by raising the heels up of both the feet at the same time. The sliding happens in the toe brakes almost like a drag (T) stop.
While skating backwards, the toe brakes can be engaged by allowing the toe brake to slide and gently touch the floor. You can also do the same thing with both toes at the same time.
Some experts quickly press (jam) on the toe brakes even when they skate forward.
2. How To Stop On Rollerblades Without Brakes
The Very Beginner’s Half an A Stop
As you skate, you can slowly use a combination of A, H, H, A, H, H, A, H, H, shapes to slow down and stabilize yourself.
To bring yourself to a full stop you need to make a slight A with just one leg (usually it is the right leg for most people). You do this by:
- lifting right left leg up so that you are skating on one leg
- then turn your right leg so that your toes point inwards to make the A shape while taking your foot back to the ground with your first front wheel
It is likely that at the very moment your first front wheel touches the ground, you’ll feel a jerk due to the change in direction of the momentum and speed.
To correct this, immediately make the H shape to stabilize the process. It is important to redirect the right foot from the inward A position back to the H shape in order to continue skating straight.
- First practice the above on flat surfaces before attempting slopes: you can even practice indoors at home, and without skates (e.g. in regular footwear) to get used to making the shapes
- Then practice on very gradual slopes only after gaining confidence on flat surfaces
- When attempting steeper slopes, start at the bottom of the slope. Starting at the top of the slope will greatly increase the momentum which can be scary. Even advanced skaters start practicing from the bottom many times and gradually go towards the middle of the slope and then finally at the top.
The A Stop
Now that you know how to do the “One foot A” stop, you can do the same with both feet while alternating between the right leg and left leg.
The Sliding A Stop / Plough Stop
This stop requires a series/sequence of movements. These are:
- Skate, Skate, Roll
- Bend your knees
- Arms forward, fingers stretched, with your fingers touching each other
- Then stretch (Stretching my legs open outwards)
- Ankles tilted inwards
Think of this poem to help you remember:
Heels slipping and pushing outwards
I get the feeling that Nothing is happening.
I certainly won’t stop
as I do the above motion
Certainly I am not going faster
Despite the downward slope.
That is enough consolation and control in the place of greater speed, panic and fear.
I will only gradually slow down.
and eventually come to a stop
If you find that your skates are starting to go backwards and you are beginning to fall forwards, at this point you can give yourself a little heave and jump to make your feet in the H (or parallel) position.
The Famous T Brake and L Brake
You can practice this with bare feet, or regular footwear. You stand on one leg, for example your right leg.
You then bend your right leg while stretching both your arms out for balance initially.
Get your hanging left leg to turn 90 degrees outwards and placed at the back about 6 inches away from your right heel, like a T or sometimes like an L. Mostly above the ground and once in a while lightly touch the ground for a few seconds. Making a T.
That’s why it’s called a drag brake, a T brake or L Brake.
Initially, you may only be able to touch the front wheels of your hanging leg. With practice, you will be able to get your last wheels below the heels to also scrape the floor.
Once you are able to do this consistently, you can then proceed to do this with skates. The first few times you do this with skates on, try to start by skating slowly.
When your hanging skate touches the floor, your body and other skate spin inwards.
You need to be cautious and with all your awareness, you need to get your weight bearing leg to continue to point outwards, which will make you go straight.
You need to always only scrape your feet on the floor gently. If you are in quad skates, you might get a jerky movement in the beginning. If you do, start using the outer edges of the outer wheels of the hanging leg to gently scrape the floor.
As you progress, you can get all the four wheels of your hanging leg to gently scrape the floor behind your skating leg. Smoothly.
If you put too much pressure on the dragging leg, you will start to lose control on the weight carrying leg and start spinning inwards without control. You are very likely going to fall as a result.
My Spin Brake and Swirl Stop
My spin stop is almost a failed T Brake ☺.
Remember you will loose control if you put pressure on the hanging wheel, the wheel at the back. This is like someone driving a car suddenly slamming on the brakes and the car spins uncontrollably. But in this case, you practice this spin intentionally, slowly first and then faster and faster.
As you skate, you slowly and cautiously turn one of your legs outwards and leave the other leg forwards. When you do this the outer leg will tend to drag the forward leg to turn inwards.
At this point, you extend your arms outwards, keep your knees bent and back slightly bent forwards to get more control and balance. You will start spinning in the same spot without moving forward.
You can do this on a slight down slope On both a semi wet floor or sandy surface. Cautiously.
And many of my students have replicated this extremely successfully. Please internalize the following words without thinking.
Skate skate Roll
Bend Left leg front
Right leg back
Look backwards on the side of the right leg.
Right leg turn 180°
Left leg 90°
I retain the bend
You let your left leg slide, you stretch your hands out and ready to reach the floor. And you feel so safe and powerful in that moment and stop.
How to Stop on Rollerblades Going Downhill
If you are on a down slope, you can reduce the angle and the width of the A position you make with your feet. You should be engaging a partial reverse to prevent you from going forwards.
The moment you start making your toes point inwards, you will notice the wheels starting to come inwards.
Bring your thigh muscles and your entire legs & body to get your feet closer to each other and then you push harder to retain the stretch.
In this position, the last rear wheels of your skates alternate between losing and gaining traction with the floor, they will start gripping and slipping like an automobile brake does. Which is gently scraping the smooth surface or sloping road against the fast spinning, polyurethane wheels.
You need to remember that the skidding, slipping and gripping is what causes the wheels to stop rolling, this is slowing down.
You can start practicing this brake on both flat surfaces and on gradual downward slopes. Increasing the intensity and speed.
Over a period of time and with enough experience, you will gain more confidence to use these brakes in greater intensity, speed and duress.
If you are on quad skates, you must get the edges of your inner wheels of both legs to scrape the floor, raising the outer wheels upwards.
Side Stepping From Down Slopes and Speed Breakers
As a beginner, when you come across a downward slope. You can overcome the reality of loosing control as the skates gain momentum by approaching the top of the slope sideways. Yes, you might think you look silly in the eyes of onlookers. In reality, noone really notices.
The best way to reach the bottom of the slope as a beginner is to slowly take tiny steps facing sideways.
Opening one leg wide, then closing the other leg to narrow the space between your legs.
Again widening the gap and narrowing the gap, one step at a time, till you are almost more than 80% of the way down.
In case the space is free of obstacles and people and traffic, you can face forward for the remaining 20% of the slope, bend low as much as possible and roll down to a halt. And then stand upright.
You can use this side stepping even to cross speed breakers as a beginner.
While side stepping, you can accidentally turn around too much and end up in a reverse position. If that happens, fall safely to the floor to stop. You can read our detailed guide here on how to fall safely when roller skating.
Using No Brakes To Slow Down
One of the best techniques that advance and intermediate skaters use is to make a long smooth U Turn or even a sharp staying low – U Turn.
What this does, is that since you are coming down a slope, a U Turn will now make you go up slope.
Since you are not adding any additional power, you will not entirely go back up, not even half the way up. You will go just about 5 to 10% up the slope.
If you repeat the turn again, this time you will move only 10% which will result in a stop.
Another turning technique you need to practice and use is a series of sharp right turns and sharp left turns when coming down a slope. You are dividing the down slope like a mountain road.
Actually, you are making lots of mini mountain roads, within the mountain road.
Power Stop or Hockey Stop
This is certainly more than a beginner stopping and braking technique. It is more advanced.
You use about 40% of your third back wheels, 30% of your fourth back wheels and 5% of the front wheels of BOTH your skates to make a sharp turn in the direction you want.
Forcing your entire weight towards your heels. Keeping your knees bent and your toes slightly raised.
You need a little speed to practice this, a small bit of feeling gutsy, a few friends to watch you doing this for encouragement.
Watch a few videos or pros doing it a couple of times. Commit to doing it and go for it!
What do I mean by committing?
As an intermediate and advanced skater, the fall will mostly be a soft landing, because most of the speed has already been arrested. So commit. 🙂
This was the graduating point for me when I moved from an intermediate skater to advanced skater. For me to be able to do the parallel slide, I had to find various smooth surfaces to practice on. I’m sure I practiced hundreds of times!
You need to turn swiftly in either direction – left or right.
Making a right turn, you will bend your right skate so that the skate is deep on its outer edge. The other skate and ankle should be deep on the inner edge.
To do the parallel slide to the right, you need to take a sharp swift turn keeping your right foot slightly forward, with both your feet turning about 15 degrees to the right.
You then tilt both your ankles to the right side as much as possible, bend your knees to the left and your hips to the right, making a zig – zag with your body from your wheels, ankles, knees, hips, upper body, neck and head.
You need to make this sharp swift motion with some speed on a flat smooth surface to allow both the skates to slip and slide.
It is good for you to have a slightly dusty or a thin layer of fine sand on the surface in the beginning days of the practice to let the wheels slip and slide, and for you to see the patterns on floor.
So you can gauge the length of my slides.
You can do parallel slides on inline skates. I’m yet to do it on quads but I’m sure it is possible because skateboarders use the same technique when downhill sliding at over 75 +kmph/ 50 mph+ speeds, sliding on the edges of the skate wheels.
The Magic Slide or magic stop is a definite advanced skater technique because I only ever have to do it when I’m skating at high speeds.
To start, I have to swerve to my left, then to my right, and open my right foot and leg out.
I then tilt my right skate inwards, and shift 99% of my now speeding body weight onto my inwards tilted right skate and let it slide. While doing this, I slide my hanging left leg so that my left leg is now turned and facing the same direction as my right skate.
If you’ve been able to read all the above different methods I’ve suggested, then congratulations on making it this far – you are definitely a true skater!
There are different ways to stop which depend on the type of skates you have on, your speed, the surface and your skill level. It is important to practice as much as possible to be able to develop these skills.
I’ve tried to write in detail how I teach my students and while I have done my best to communicate this, I understand that at times it might be easier to watch a video. So I have dug up some videos on youtube which can also help.
If you have any questions, please drop a message and we will try our best to help. Like Effy always says – happy skating!