Learning to inline skate without a heel brake is NOT the best way to become a good skater quickly.
“What are you doing skating with that brake? Take it off, it doesn’t work, it’ll only get in the way.”
This (and other versions of this) are the mantra and industry norm in terms of whether inline skaters should wear heel brakes or not. Almost all of the skate channels, gurus, manufacturers, your friends and people in the inline skate community believe this. That the heel brake hinders progress, gets in the way and stops people learning the cooler stops.
This is outdated and bad advice.
Removing your heel brake is not the best way to gain confidence and find freedom on skates.
Look, I understand why you might have removed your heel brake. We were probably told by lots of trusted friends and online that the heel brake isn’t useful and in fact no one uses it and it’s even dangerous and can trip you up. And it’s true, most skaters don’t use heel brakes. Some skates are even sold without a brake! No wonder you went with that message.
But it’s simply not true. The heel brake is the easiest stopping method for beginner skaters to learn and it works in narrow spaces, down slopes and in emergency situations. I love to credit others’ work and this video by Shaun Unwin compares the heel brake stop with all the other stopping methods, in a VERY fun and scientific way, maintaining as many variables (such as speed) as constant as possible.
The following video shows the brilliant effectiveness of the heel brake. As Shaun says “Don’t give up on the heel brake. The heel brake truly is a great technique.” Check that video out for proof of the heel brake’s effectiveness.
Let me ask you this… Do all non-heel brake wearing, new and improving skaters stop well? And by “well” I mean, from their highest speeds & on downhill slopes consistently?
No. They don’t.
If we skate around other people you’ll see many skaters struggle with stopping well using any of the non-heel braking methods such as Plough stops, T-stops, Turn stops, or Powerslides & Souls slides.
If new, first time skaters with brakes can learn heel braking quickly and it works to stop them, then just compare them to the thousands of skaters who look tense or wobbly going down hills is some proof. Until these non-heel brake stopping methods are learned & trained correctly and work in all conditions, the heel brake is better left on. So if you’re wearing a heel brake (congratulations, you withstood the shaming & negativity you may have received for wearing it).
Using a step-by-step format with progressively achievable exercises will have you heel brake stopping when and wherever you want.
The Skatefresh How to Skate Beginner Method online course begins with heel braking and continues with the 2 Plough stops, so with or without a brake you’ll have things to learn. So, that’s how to get ahead in your skating, via nailing your heel brake stop and be the change to inspire others.
Remember, the fact you stopped well is what will be note worthy, not the method you used.
Right now you have a choice. You can continue trying to struggle with your stopping using the other, harder, non heel brake methods or you can put your brake back on and learn how to use it properly while still continuing to train and improve your non-heel brake stops.
You’ll at least be able to stop in all situations and will enjoy all aspects of your skating even more if you nail that brake. You can take it off later when your other stops are reliable and effective on slopes. You’ll get there. This is a continuous learning pathway mastering new, better & more difficult stops.
Or you choose to continue without the heel brake but refocus yourself with the intent to really do the work necessary to master those harder more challenging stopping methods and to watch your terrain carefully and avoid large or steep slopes until you know you are ready.
If you’re ready to make a change and start stopping like you mean it, click the link below and begin our in-depth Beginner level training showing you exactly how to do the heel brake stop as well as the Plough and Stepping Plough (plus all the essential beginner level skills you need).