Q – Hi Asha. I’ve just invested in some new in-line skates, it’s the first time I’ve skated since I was a teenager, I’m now 32.
I’ve quickly realised that I need to focus on my braking and stopping as I’ve had two accidents because I haven’t been able to stop. I can use my heel brake ok but only on the flat. When I tried to brake down a hill it did nothing.
I’ve been trying to T-stop over and over and keep ending up turning around in a circle . I really need some training and wondered what you would recommend?
I really don’t want to give up just because of a few crashes but if I can’t learn to brake I’m going to have to. I would really appreciate any advice you have. �Thanks very much!
Sophie Oswald (32) UK.
A – Well done You for identifying the essential necessity of knowing how to stop on skates (and I’m sorry you learned this from having 2 crashes, but that’s a very efficient way of knowing that ‘not stopping’ isn’t sustainable right?)
I’m so convinced of the importance of stopping that I created a series of 3 online video training courses on just this theme “How to Stop” which contains 3-4 stopping methods in each ability level of Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced. I think ALL skaters should be actively learning and mastering new stops all the time and ensuring they are functional at the speeds they regularly stop at and usable in combinations with other stops.
Don’t be discouraged by your discovery that skating isn’t easy (like it probably is in your memories of skating as a teenager).
You are completely “normal” in having these struggles with both the Heel Brake Stop and the T-Stop. For the vast majority of people, learning to skate again as an adult isn’t usually an intuitive, obvious process for anyone.
Heel Brake Stop
Well done for figuring out how to stop using your Heel Brake on the flat. That’s an achievement in and of itself. It is VERY common for skaters to be unable to stop on slopes even with the brake. Here is the secret you are missing.
The Heel Brake should be applied in front of the other (support) skate in a position called the Scissor position.
The MINIMUM length of the Scissor position for braking should be; front foot heel brake level with back skate’s front wheel. Most skaters do not scissor their front skate far enough forwards and have their heel brake alongside wheels 2 or 3 (ie half way along the back skate). This results in very little traction on the brake. I believe (100%) this is happening to you when you go down a slope. Your heel brake isn’t far enough forwards.
To slow down and then stop down a slope with the heel brake you need to make a conscious effort to push the brake forwards so that it remains in front of the front wheel of the back skate at all times. To stop on a hill, the brake must be pushed forwards even further (up to half or 1 skate length further forwards than the front wheel of the back skate). This is probably the part you have missed.
To do this Scissor lengthening movement you will need to simultaneously bend your back knee more forwards. All of the above needs to happen without your weight going onto the heel of the back skate (this is the most common problem with heel braking). So try to keep your weight on the ball of the back foot throughout the Scissor and the braking sequence.
This is very wordy to write about but it’s a start. I’d like to offer you (and others who need it) a full length video lesson on the Heel brake stop. This is exactly what I teach in real classes except this class is FREE.
Just click on “Free Trial” next to the Trailer video on this page;
Heel Brake Stop Lesson
Many new skaters start trying out the T-Stop early on because they see so many skaters using it. Most of them don’t realise that the T-Stop is an intermediate level move and this explains your recurring spinning when you try it.
If your T-stop makes you spin or go in a circle it is because of only 1 thing. Your sliding skate behind you is too heavy. This then ‘drags’ your leg, hip arm and finally your entire torso around in the direction of your back sliding skate.
The solution appears simple; transfer more weight from the back sliding skate to the front support skate (until it reaches 80% on the support leg and only 20% on the sliding leg). When you achieve this 80/20 you’ll know because you’ll be able to slide to a complete stop.
Can you notice in the photo with this post that the skater with me in the background has 80% of his weight on his front skate, but the other skater in the foreground has about 60% weight on his front leg. If both were in movement, the foreground skater would spin, the background skater would slide to a stop.
However, I’d guestimate that 70% of all Intermediate skaters cannot do this sliding to a complete stop, because even they cannot maintain their weight at 80% for the duration of the T slide.
This demands leg strength on the front leg, conscious edge control of the angle of the front wheels to the ground and you need your skate frame to be perpendicular to the ground ie, upright and I guarantee your front edge will tilt onto your inside edge just before the spinning happens. Check this by looking down to confirm if I’m right.
The best way to train all the aspects you need for a perfect T-Stop is to learn, practice and master the Toe Roll Position. This should be the prerequisite position for all T-Stoppers.
I’m afraid I don’t have a Free detailed lesson available for the T-Stop (it is however covered in full in the “How to Skate – Intermediate” online course).
But I can offer you the Intermediate level Spin Stop class which also has a pre-requisite the Toe Roll position, so you can fully train this and this should go a long way to improving your T-stop. Plus, you’ll also have a third stop, the Spin Stop to add to your repertoire.
Spin Stop Lesson
Here is an old YouTube video that includes the T-stop which is incomplete but which can show you some of things I’ve talked about above.
I hope this discussion helps your stops and that you use the resources available as I made them for skaters who don’t have access to professional tuition where they live.
Please let me know how you get on with the downhill Heel Brake (but start your slopes from the bottom of the slope not from the top) and I look forward to hearing of your progress.