Intro

Hi, I am Steve. Originally from South Manchester but now living in Bolton.

167181_1789957469881_3756275_n

I run a small company ‘All Star Skating’ putting on roller skating sessions at various venues around the North West.

I am now 60 years old and have been roller skating since my mid 20’s. First as a social skater then I began to train in artistic dance, figures and free skating. I have been a member of several Artistic skating clubs and brought my son Matt through the competition side of artistic skating. Matt now works with me putting on general sessions.

Some time ago it occurred to me that most people who learn to skate just want to have fun and socialise.

Only a small percentage of skaters want to go through all the stress and effort of competition skating. Not to mention the cost, the horrible politics of artistic skating in the UK or the psychological damage that a lot of kids suffer through the competition side of things. I have known of kids who were bullied by their coaches and even given whisky to coerce them to go out and compete. It stinks.

Onto the positives now, I got quite upset writing that last bit.

There are some great roller skating sports that don’t rely on peoples personal opinion. Hockey for instance, you score more goals than the other side and you win, simple. Roller derby, score more points your team wins …. you get the picture.

Personally I love the feeling of speed, the wind in your face and I am talking about indoor quad skating here. Of zipping in and out of the crowd backwards. Oh yes, at 60 I can still do that and a lot more.

But more than all that I think is the satisfaction of teaching others and watching them progress from ‘Bambi on ice’ lookalikes when they cant even stand on skates to then, a few weeks or months later seeing them skating around forwards and backwards and doing their little tricks with ease and confidence.
It gives me a great sense of pride to know that I helped that child to feel so confident. They have learned a skill that they will carry through the rest of their lives.

So this blog is all about learning to skate, from beginner to expert. And it doesn’t matter if your style is social, hockey, artistic or roller derby. The principals are all the same.

My daughter recently joined an artistic club (her choice she is 22) and said to me “why is it that it is never the top coach at the club who teach the beginner levels, it’s always the worse coach”. She is absolutely right, that is what happens. But the beginner level is the most important part!!! If you don’t learn the basics to a good standard how are going to learn the advanced stuff?

So personally, I have no desire to run an artistic club. My sessions are primarily for families to have fun. They are informal roller disco type sessions with games which are designed to teach good skating without the kids realising that its happening. We also do little games like, everyone skate around backwards in a snake or scissor pattern during this song and a packet of sweets goes to the one i think is trying the hardest. Doesn’t have to be the best. It is incredible to see kids that have put on skates for the first time actually copying the others and going backwards.

I guess you can tell i am pretty passionate about it all.

I intend my posts to cover

  • Teaching the toddler or pre school child.

  • Teaching the older child through to adult beginner

  • Moving from beginner to intermediate and advanced

Also somewhere in there I shall do a post about the standard of skates that people are buying now. Since the rise in aluminium prices the skates that are coming out of a certain far eastern country is diabolical. More to come.

I hope you find my blog useful. Please feel free to leave comments, (hopefully nice ones) and please ask questions and I will do my best to give you the right answers.

My facebook is www.facebook.com/groups/AllStarSkating

and my website is www.allstarskating.co.uk

Part 2. Complete Beginner

INDOORS or OUTDOORS

This post is written with the indoor skater in mind. Although the same principals still apply there are a few things to keep in mind.
If skating outside you should wear full protective gear. Helmet, wrist guards, elbow guards and knee pads.

For indoor skating I would say these are optional. Most people don’t wear any protection. Whist injuries are rare it is usually the wrists which get injured so a good pair of wrist guards is a good option. You can buy these quite cheaply from most high street sportswear shops.

What to wear
Roller skating is quite physical and requires that you bend, get up and down from the floor etc so it is probably not a good idea to wear tight skirts or tight jeans.
You are not going to look cool just yet so please wear something comfortable that you can move in.

Skates
Make sure your skates seem in good condition. Wheels go round but don’t feel wobbly, the toe stop feels secure. Then lace them up to the top so they feel snug. Not too loose and not to tight.
There really is nothing worse than a loosely tied skate with the laces hanging down to the floor so please check your children’s skates as well as your own.

The absolute worse thing that can happen to a beginner who has just put skates on for the 1st time is to fall backwards from their full hight and land heavily.

This usually results in pain followed by taking off skates and deciding they are never going skating again.

My aim then with absolute beginners is to minimise that risk from the word go. The technique I use has saved a lot of people pain and helped them through that awkward initial skating stage. Everyone falls at some point, even for fun, Its how you fall that’s important.

This is how I teach a class of absolute beginners who have never put on skates before. From age 4 or 5 through to adults.

I shall add my own thought and comments (in brackets)

  • So everybody please spread out and stand in a line facing me.
  • Give yourselves enough room to hold your arms out without touching the person next to you.

(as some people are now wobbling around)
Try and stand still, keep your weight over you skates.

  • Now I would like you all to make sure your feet are about the width of your hips apart and that they are straight, as though they are on train tracks.
  • Put your arms out for balance, to the side and a little in front.
    (not like an aeroplane, I need the shoulders relaxed)
  • OK everybody bend your knees slightly.
    (brings their weight forward slightly and unlocks their knees)
  • Now bring your arms to the front like a zombie and bend your knees a little more.

This is the bend and roll position and is very useful. If when we are skating along we feel a bit wobbly we quickly put our arms out in front and bend our knees. That should save us from falling backwards onto our bottoms.

(whilst still in this position)

  • So, keeping your head up and your bum down I want you to bend your knees,  bend, bend, bend.
    (I keep saying bend until everyone is squatting down as low as they can. Most people can squat down until they have their bottom on their heels).
  • Now tip yourself onto the floor.
    (I get a few odd looks at this point but everyone ends up sat on the floor).

So we all fell onto the floor. Did anybody hurt themselves?
(everyone says no)
So when you are skating around and you feel a bit wobbly, you need to quickly put your arms out in front and bend your knees. If you still think you may fall just keep bending right down. Fall from that height, like we all just did, and you won’t hurt yourself.

Now we are on the floor, lets look at ways of getting back up.
(I get a number of suggestions from the kids. I go on to explain that there is only one way taught for roller and ice skating)

  • Turn over onto your fists and knees
    (like hands and knees but make fists to avoid having fingers run over)
  • Now kneel up. We are almost up now.
  • Put one foot under you, on all 4 wheels not using the toe stop.
  • Now get your weight over that knee, hand on knee if you need to and carefully, slowly, push yourself up.
  • Carefully like you have just climbed on top of a wall and need to balance on top.

(When they are stood up I remind them to stand still, arms out for balance and feet straight like they are on train tracks and knees slightly bent)

Lets do it all again.

(We will get up and down like this several times. It gives them quite a lot of confidence to realise that they can get up and down from the floor)

SKATING vs WALKING

Skating is not walking.
To walk we have to tip ourselves off balance and put one foot in front to stop from falling flat on our faces. This is not going to work on skates.
Think of the difference between an ostrich walking and a penguin walking. The ostrich strides out in front whilst the penguin waddles from side to side.
So we need to be more like penguins and move side to side.

  • Now I would like everyone to form a line once more facing me. Feet a little apart and parallel (train tracks), knees bent slightly, arms out to the side and a little in front.
  • Everyone, put your heels together and your toes out at about 45 degrees making a V.
  • You may feel your feet want to roll away from each other, so use your leg muscles (lots of muscles actually including groin, lower back, buttocks etc)

We call this the V position.

  • Now put your toes together and your heels apart at about 45 degrees making Λ or an upside down V, arrow.
  • You will notice that your feet want to roll backwards so use your muscles to keep those toes together.
  • I call this the arrow position. We will use this later when we start going backwards.  (lots of incredulous comments and nervous laughter here as if to say “backwards, never”, well just you wait).

OK, back to the bend and roll position. (feet parallel, few inches apart, knees bent a little, arms out to the side and a little in front.)

  • Now, who can move their weight mostly over to one side (foot) and pick the other foot up and put it back down again?
    (balance on one leg)
  • Now move the weight over to the other side and pick up the other foot. Put it back down.
    (some people will start to roll)

If you are rolling then make sure you are putting your foot back straight and not turned out in the V position.

  • We are going to do it again but this time lets see if you can hold it for 3 seconds.
  • Now making sure you put your foot down straight move your weight over to the other side. Pick up your free leg and try and balance for 3 seconds.

OK back to the bend and roll position.

(believe it or not but by this stage in the lesson, about 10 minutes in, most people do a pretty good job at the balance exercise)

Ok, we are going to make this a bit easier.
Instead of balancing for 3 seconds we are only going to balance for half a second.

  • So making sure you are in the bend and roll position.
  • Move your weight over to one side, pick up the free foot, half a second, move the weight to other side, balance for half a second.
  • Other side – half a second. Other side – half a second.
  • Now keep up the rhythm side to side. Side to side.

If you are rolling make sure you are putting your feet down straight and not in a V.

Keep going, side to side.

  • As you are moving your body from one side to the other I want you to feel that you are pushing from the floor.
  • To move your weight across you are pushing against the floor with your other leg.
  • Keep going. Side to side.
  • Push one side, push other side.

(I wait until I think everyone has got the rhythm)

Now as you are moving side to side I want you to start to put your feet down with your toes turned out in a V position.
(like a penguin or duck)
(Everyone now starts skating forward)
(I get everyone to stop and ask them what happened)

Q. What happened?
A. We skated forward
Q. Did you walk?
A. No

Ok, back to the bend and roll position.

  • Side to side with the feet straight (parallel, train tracks)

Keep going, side to side.
Now while you are going side to side let’s see what happens if we put our feet back down with our toes turned in and our heels out (arrow, upside down V)
(everyone starts skating backwards)

Q. What’s happening people?
A. We are skating backwards!
Q. Are you walking backwards?
A. No.

I know people who have been roller skated for 15 years (true) and didn’t know how to skate backwards and you guys know how after 15 minutes!

Line up again please.
Now we are going to practice what we do if when we are skating along we feel a bit wobbly.

So I’d like you to skate forward which is side to side with toes turned out a bit in a V. Knees slightly bent and arms out for balance.

About half way across the floor I want you to pretend that you feel wobbly. So you will quickly bend your knees some more whist reaching forward with your arms.

As they set off across the floor there may be one or two people who start to walk/skate. I can tell without looking at their feet. If their arms are moving forward and back then they are walking.  So I remind them to just move side to side, feet in a V position and with both arms out to the side.  THINK PENGUIN and basically wadle or shuffle your weight from one side to the other. DO NOT STEP IN FRONT.

(They all do this as I watch to see if anyone needs extra help later)

Ok, this time I want you to:

  • Skate across the floor and when you get to about the middle I want you to pretend you feel wobbly again.
  • Do the same thing again, reach forward and bend your knees, but this time keep bending all the way down and fall over on purpose.

(I get a few shocked looks at this but they all do it and end up sat on the floor laughing)

Now who remembers how to get up off the floor safely?

I have them do the exercise a couple more times. Skate across the floor then bend and roll. Skate across the floor then bend all the way, fall over and get back up.

At the end of this Lesson One they have gained a lot of confidence. They can skate without walking. They are not afraid of the floor and very rarely come to any harm in the future.

About 10 minutes after this lesson I will get out our limbo game. The kids line up and one at a time go under the limbo. Not by bending backwards but by doing the same as we have been doing, reaching forward and bending the knees.
We have many other people at our skating sessions and some are at a much higher skill level but the beginners normally feel confident enough to join in with all the others.

Hope this helps you to skate or even allows you to help someone else.

The next post will move us on from the Penguin waddle to the  push and glide technique.

 

 

Part 1. Teaching The very Young

Teaching the very young. 2yrs+

Hi everyone and welcome to the first page, or is it post, of my first blog.

Let me start by saying, ‘I was never really any good at English when I was at school”. So you may have to excuse any bad grammar and punctuation.

I do have something I want to share however. And that is my love for roller skating.
When you can get enough speed up so the wind is in your face, in my opinion that is the next best thing to being able to fly.
Which of course only happens in your dreams.

So the aim here is to help you, and your children if you have them, to get into roller skating, and hopefully get as much enjoyment out of it as I do.

I think that when we say “I want to learn how to skate” what we really mean is “I want to learn how to not fall over”

So here goes. This first post is about teaching the very young 2yrs to about 5yrs. (The principals outlined here could also apply to a child or adult with learning difficulties)

I would advise any beginner skater to read it as it will help you understand some basic principals of skating and you never know, when you see a mum hauling her toddler round the rink like a sack of potatoes you may be able to help!

Part 1.

Very young children 2yrs to 5yrs approx

The reason this age group fall into a separate category is they can’t take a technical explanation. They have to be shown a simple way then copy. So for parents only, here is a bit of technical.

Most of this will sound obvious when you think about it but here goes.
Skating is not the same as walking.

There, I told you it would sound obvious. But for someone that has just put on skates for the first time this is what they usually try to do. This normally results in falling backwards on their bum.
If you are walking down the road on a winters day and come to an icy patch you would take shorter steps trying to keep your weight over your feet. That is what needs to happen on skates, you need to keep your feet under you. Walking just will not do.
Also on a technical note, when you stand with your legs straight your weight is usually back on your heels. When we are skating it isn’t a good idea to have the weight back on the heels as this will result in another fall backwards on, yes you guessed it. Ouch!

Bending your knees takes a bit of effort but fortunately for us, toddlers are pretty good at having a slight knee bend.
So, we know what we are trying to achieve with our youngster. Get them moving on the skating floor but without stepping in front.

  1. First make sure the skates are on properly. They will most likely be plastic skates that fit over their shoes.
  2. You will be holding their hand but try not to hold them up. They will never get their balance this way. Instead, be ready to stop them falling without actually holding them up.64468cf03591edceeb1486b94d6fe038
    Not like this. Put yourself in their shoes for a second and imagine what it would be like learning to skate  with your hands in the air!
    DSC09599-FILEminimizer
    This would be much better.
  3. Explain to them that they need to make their feet like a duck (toes turned out in a V position)
  4. Next, if they can imagine the floor covered in ants or something like that and that they need to squish the ants. If you don’t like the idea of squishing imaginary ants then how about a soldier marching on the spot, left right, left right etc.
    What we are trying to acheive here is for them to bend their knees up and down without actually stepping in front.
  5. Q. Why would that get them to move?
    A. Here comes a bit of theory.
    If you stand with your feet slightly bent and your skates pointing forward and exactly parallel with each other. Then assuming the floor is level, you won’t move.
    If you start to turn your feet out like a V position then they will start to roll away from each other. One foot going off to the left and one off to the right. You would do the splits and fall over.The important bit here is that people don’t skate forwards. They go a bit to the left, bit to the right etc. Its just that they are changing their feet all the time. And that has the effect of getting them forward. We don’t do straight lines in skating, its all about curves.

You will notice while you walk round holding their hand that when they are picking their feet up and down with a slight turnout (V) then they wont be falling off balance. As soon as they start to walk, they slip backwards. Get them to start marching again or squishing bugs.

Just to finish of this rather long winded post I would just like to mention a couple of things for new skaters.

Most skating rinks have everyone going round in an anti clockwise direction so please don’t walk round the wrong way.

Also, I think it is a good idea to make friends with the floor. Take them to the centre of the rink, most fast skaters go around the outside,  and have them get up and down several times.

In the next post we will go into any age beginners.

Please feel free to ask questions or comment, I will do my best to answer them all.

And please take a look at the club facebook page
www.facebook.com/groups/AllStarSkating

and our website
www.allstarskating.co.uk

Ta ta for now.
Steve

 

All the skaters are stars