Q & A: Have you ever tripped over something because you didn’t see it?

Today’s “Q&A Weds” comes from Aye Flores.

Q: What I’ve seen in “How to Fall” tutorials appears to be for when you wobble and have time to react. What if you suddenly hit a small rock or twig you neglected to see (caught up in 80mms) and are lurched forward?

Asha: Aye, you are right, most How to Fall tutorials focus on “saving” that moment when you loose balance and consciously bringing your upper body and arms forwards (to either fall on your wrist guards safely or to eliminate the fall altogether by resuming the Ready Position and with arms forwards the fall is then averted….)
What you are talking about is the hideous moment when one of your skates just stops dead because it has hit an obstacle (and there are zillions of things out there ready to trip us up). These include loose debris like twigs, stones, litter but also ground level cracks, changes in surface, road stuff like ‘man-hole covers’ etc etc. Its literally endless.

When you “hit something you neglected to see” it is hopefully a deep learning to become much more observant and in the present moment. When you skate a part of your attention must always be on the ground several metres in front of you. If you are distracted or not actually looking for the obstacles then it’s very easy to hit debris and often these are the worst and painful falls.

It’s very hard to have the time to react appropriately which is to get your hands out and attempt to fall at least on your knee and wrist pads, but very often this type of fall happens so quickly most people can’t react fast enough for this and the results can be full body, side or chin skids.

So how can we avoid this?

  1. Adopt a “Scanning” view of the ground ahead. Begin looking 2-3 metres ahead of you and then “scan your vision” off into the distance. The return to 2-3 metres ahead of you.
  2. This Scanning View allows you to keep an eye on closer debris that’s imminent (and needs avoiding, skating around or Scissoring over) but it also keeps you tuned into your soon-to-be future reality.
  3. This gives you enough time to plan your next manoeuvres and deal with what’s coming. I can skate through very twiggy ground and not hit a single one, because I plan my strides carefully and spot every one of them.

This process should be continuous, regardless of where you are skating (although if you are lucky enough to skate in a near perfect areas like a rink or smooth checked ground then you can relax your vigilance).

Learning to become more Focussed when you skate will only happen if you try and keep trying. It’s a continual process towards greater consciousness in your movements.

When you watch experienced street skaters for example they very rarely (if ever) hit something they didn’t see. It just doesn’t happen often because they are focussed on looking for, seeing and planning around every single obstacle coming their way. For this reason skating is so compelling, so mind-freeing and such a good way to exercise both your brain and your body.

Longer Obstacles?

Something like a manhole cover is different from debris because its a long obstacle with varying textures and usually can be skated over, if you have enough speed. So for all longer surface obstacles do the following;

  1. See the obstacle, ACCELERATE towards it and do a GOOD Scissor 1m before and roll in Scissor.
  2. With a good knee bend and more weight on the back skate you should sail over the obstacle.

There are only 2 reasons why your Scissor wont make it over a longer obstacle;
(a) You aren’t going fast enough
(b) Your Scissor became short (i.e. you overlapped some of your wheels instead of using a proper Scissor position where each wheel hit the obstacle one at a time).

So, More FOCUS, More Concentration, More Presentness will produce more time to see, plan and execute your desired move.
Hopefully after one bad debris fall your body will more naturally want to look for stuff.

I hope this helps all street skaters but anyone who skates outside on trails, in parks, carparks and anywhere you can’t sweep the entire area! Get Scanning?

Skate Well and I promise, You Will Feel Alive (and trip over less).