Inline skating lessons with an instructor aren't cheap, and although I
believe you get what you pay for, I've written this page in the hopes of helping
you to get more out of your lessons. Of course I'm a little biased being
an instructor myself.
important to practice between lessons if you want to get the most out of your
money. Practice will help you improve on the drills and skills worked on in the
previous lesson and will help settle your muscle memory of those movements.
You'll also spend more time on your skates which equates to more time spent
working on your balance. Thus, when you start the next lesson, you'll be at
maximum sponge-like absorbency ready for all the cool new skills we'll cover.
refers to the body's ability to memorize, or perform automatically, a well
rehearsed motion. Here's a great article by
Erika Kennington on muscle memory.
Of course you
can still take the lesson even if you didn't get a chance to practice. You'll
still learn new skills and have a good time. This can be a good option if you're perhaps
not so confident and in the early stages of learning to skate.
Get your skates on early
It's very common
to feel wobbly all over again when you put your skates on for another session.
What happened? It's not your fault - it's just because you haven't been skating
long and thus your muscle memory as related to skating isn't so deeply laid down
just yet. Relax, and in about 10-15 minutes you'll feel much more balanced and
co-ordinated as your body remembers what happened the last time you went
skating. You could get this feeling for between a few weeks to a few months,
depending on how much skating you do and how often, so just be prepared for it
and warm up slowly and with caution.
This is one of the best reasons to arrive early before your lesson, and take
the time to warm up. The wobbly period isn't the best time for learning
new skills, so it's nice to get it over with
during the warm-up before your lesson.
if you've never worn skates before and/or this is
your first lesson, then don't do this as we'll cover some essential
safety and falling tips on the grass first. They'll make standing in your
skates on the tarmac much less scary.
Food and Hydration
It's a good idea
to have water with you, especially if it's warm. An hour's lesson may not seem
long, but the chances are you'll be pretty tired afterwards, and you'll likely
want to drink either during or after the lesson. I'd also make sure you've
eaten at least a few hours before the lesson so you don't get a low blood sugar
and feel all shaky. (The lessons aren't generally intense as they focus on
skills and drills, but they are normally tiring because of how much you have to
focus on balance and skills. This is because you're learning new movements for which
not much muscle memory has been laid down yet.)
to avoid a lack of sleep or a hang-over before a lesson as those are not
conducive to learning.
Skating is great
exercise, and best of all it doesn't feel like exercise since it's so much fun.
Work on the
drills that you find harder - you'll get more benefit out of these than from the
easier drills because they'll challenge you more.
Always do more
work on the weaker side. Many drills, such as the scooter, need to be done on
either side, and nearly everyone has some degree of asymmetry. Working on the
stronger side might feel more rewarding, but it's much more important to bring
the weaker side close up to your ability on the strong side. You'll become a
much better skater as a result of doing this.
yourself to do 10-15 minutes of drills every time you go out skating on your
own, but perhaps not much more than this as you want to keep the enjoyment
factor up. Then go and skate and have fun!
Build hours on
your skates - the more time you spend on your skates the quicker you'll learn.
In the early stages just skating lots will bring huge improvements to your
balance and co-ordination. Later on you'll need to work on technique more and
more to gain improvements.
Always look up.
Looking down at your skates not only gives you poor balance, but it doesn't help
to develop your sense of proprioception, or your unconscious sense of where and
how your body is positioned in space. That's an incredibly useful skill in
skating because it will help you to correct yourself when an instructor isn't
around, and to translate someone else's body position in a particular move to
your own body. It's a good way to become less dependent on an instructor.
knees. No, more than that, still more, and a bit more… You get the picture!
You always want to have a sense of bum down, head up, which leads to better
balance and easier moves.
Check the weather
I won't teach
when surfaces are wet because there's significantly reduced traction. That's
not a good thing when I'll be pushing your abilities during a lesson! That's not to
say I won't skate in the rain, but I'm much more careful when I do. Because
I've been skating for some time, it's easier for me to make my movements smooth
and careful, and that's what's needed to avoid falling in slippery conditions.
LondonSkaters.com has a weather page with links to forecasts, plus a webcams
page that I use to check whether the roads are dry before heading up to Hyde
Have fun on your skates!
Do stuff you
enjoy and you're more likely to keep on skating and get all the health benefits
that come from plenty of good exercise. As you skate more and your skills
improve, consider doing some of these things if they appeal to you:
- Go on a social skate with friends.
- Play some hockey.
- Learn to slalom.
- Join a fitness or speed club if you want to get fit.
- Use your skates to run errands.
Get involved, ask questions, and review
Don't be afraid
to ask questions if you don't understand something you've been told. One of the
marks of a good instructor is his/her ability to convey a concept in different
ways, i.e. in the way that gets you to understand what the instructor is looking
for. Everyone is different and may not understand a particular explanation or
If you've taken
a lesson with me already, and can't quite remember all the drills, send me an
email and I'll send you a list of the drills we worked on with the key points
that are important for each.
When do I stop learning?
It never stops -
even skaters who've been skating for 10 or 20 years spend extensive time on
their technique and skills. For me that's the beauty and joy of skating - the
challenge never ends and there's always something new to learn or to improve.
That's not to say you need or want an instructor over this time, but more about
how important regular practice is over a long period of time.
You'd be amazed
at how many of the incredibly cool and skilled skaters such as those found in
Hyde Park were rank beginners only a few years ago.
Choose the right instructor
Different people interact in different ways, and that results in not all
people liking or enjoying the same instructor. There's nothing wrong with
trying different instructors to see who works best for you. And, like with
all teaching, some are better instructors than others. Unfortunately the
only way to find out is to take a lesson, so I'd recommend being careful about
paying up front for a course of lessons before you know what the instructor is
In my own lessons, if you can already skate you could try one of my
free learn to skate
faster lessons, or if thinking about a
package of lessons, you can
always try one lesson before deciding further.