Teaching the Very Young
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!
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.
First make sure the skates are on properly. They will most likely be plastic skates that fit over their shoes.
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.
- Explain to them that they need to make their feet like a duck (toes turned out in a V position)
- 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.
- 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
and our website
Ta ta for now.