Beginner’s Guide to Inline/Rollerblading

Getting Started:

Buy Skates:

First things first: you need skates. Click here (or see below) for the guide to local retailers that can meet your need
for recreational inline skates, aggressive skates, or speed skates. You not only need skates, but you need skates
that fit correctly. Skates that are the wrong size will make you wobbly and will lead to blisters. Rollerblades should fit
a bit like your hiking boots: snug in the heel and ankle, but with room in the toe box to wiggle your toes.

Speed skates might look neat, but if you are completely new to skating you don’t want to start with them. You need
to start with a skate that covers your ankle. This will allow you to develop the strength in your fower legs and ankles
to support your body weight. | raced for years on Rollerblade Carbon Marathons and even finished first in them. You
don’t need speed skates to go fast.

In addition to your skates you also need a helmet and wrist guards or sliders. Beginners may also elect to wear knee
pads and elbow pads depending on your general balance level and skating history. One guy even wears shoulder

So now you have your skates. You just opened up the box, unwrapped your new skates, and smelled the fresh
urethane wheels. You have checked to make sure the frame bolts are snug, and the wheels are tightly secured to
the frame. You lace them up for the first time and they fit like a glove. You stand up tentatively and wobbie a bit, but
can balance well enough. So now what do you do?

How to Skate — the Basics:

Stand in your living room with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knees so that when you look at yourself in a
mirror. from the side, your knee forms a 90 degree angle as if you were sitting in a chair. Your upper body should be
leaning slightly fonvard and you should feet as though you are on top of your wheels. Your arches should not be
caving in (pronating) nor should you feet as though your feet are falling out to the side (supinating). You shoutd feel
steady and be comfortabie holding this position.

Now push to one side through the heel and glide on the other leg. Then gently but steadily swing the leg you just
pushed off of back underneath you and push with the other leg. Repeat.

Where to Skate?


Your first skating experience should be on flat. even pavement that is free of debris and free of obstacles (like cars,
cyclists. pets, or anything else that could cause you to fall). Do not start on hills. You don’t learn to drive on the
expressivay, you learn to drive in a parking lot or on a quiet street, and the same is true in skating.

« Parking lots: Large parking lots can be a great piace to start. Many businesses, particularly industrial parks,
arte deserted on the weekends and can serve as a perfect training ground for initial skates.

« School playgrounds: They are also likely deserted on weekends and at night. Many have fiat paved
basketball courts or play areas that are suitable for inline practice.

  • Roseville Oval: From 9 AM to 8 PM skaters have access to a 400 meter Olympic track — for FREE. The track
    will be free of cars. but there is a skateboard park in the center of the track, which can occasionally present a

Work on starting and stopping. Learning to stop on rollerblades, or inline skates as the are called by those in the
know, can be challenging. Recreational skates typically have a brake that requires you to put your weight on your
heel and lean back. It helps to bend the opposite knee while doing this.
it takes a bit of time to break in a pair of skates and get your body used to the stresses and strains of skating. It is
important to start with half hour skating sessions, then work up to hour long sessions. As you improve you won’t be
thinking in terms of half hours or hours, but half marathons and marathons. But, do not rush to go long distances or
you will suffer the wrath of sore muscles.

Falling is a part of learning and not a sign of failure. You should be wearing enough protective gear and traveling at a
low enough speed that the risk of serious injury should be mitigated.


Once you have the basics and can stop quickly when you need to, it is time to try trail skating. Trail skating can be
invigorating. You can skate through a paved wooded trail, or skate through a trail right through downtown
Minneapolis. You will snare the trail with cyclists, dog walkers, children. animals. and pretty much anything else you
can think of just might cross your path.

Before you hit the trail it is important to know the rules of the road.

  • Keep to the right – The rules of the highway still apply on the trail. Slower traffic to the right, pass on the
  • Let someone know — make sure someone knows what trail you were headed for and what tempo you
    planned to maintain.
  • On your left — let others know you are coming. If you are approaching children do not expect them to
  • Be Predictable — stay in your lane. Look before changing course.
  • Don’t block the trail – How many times do we see bikers stopped having a chat in the middle of the trail?
    Move it to the shoulder.
  • Be Courteous – the first person to come upon your wrecked carcass will either be the guy you yelled at for
    getting in your way or the guy you politely warned of your approach and greeted/thanked as you passed. It is
    your choice.
  • Stay off private property — someone worked hard for that land and they probably are not to pleased a
    tyrannical government plowed a trail right through their backyard without their consent.
  • Do not litter — put it in your pocket and throw it away when you get a chance.
  • Stop at intersections — just because an intersection usually doesn’t have traffic doesn’t mean a Ford F-250
    won’t be passing this time.

The key to an enjoyable trail experience is picking a trait that fits your skill level. Some trails are flat and go great
distances without requiring stopping. Others are hilly, some require frequent stops and sharp turns. The more
technical the trail the more skilled you need to be.

Easier Trails:

Midtown Greenway: many segments of the Minneapolis Midtown Greenway are fevel and usually free of
debris, but watch for road crossings and note that the trait does not always have the right-of-way.

More Challenging Trails:

Riverparkways both East and West: the traits are curvy with occasional changes in elevation and are fairly
heavily trafficked and narrow. Skaters will need to be able to navigate cracks in the trail, debris that falls off of
overhanging trees, and dogs on long leaches.

Gateway Trail: What makes the Gateway trail more challenging is that the majority of the trial has
overhanging trees that routinely drop debris. This trail takes quite awhile to dry out after rain. Generally, the
trail is flat with gentile hills, but has the occasional road crossing.

Difficult Trails:

Elm Creek Trail System: this is perhaps the most difficult trail routinely skated by inliners in the metro. The
course is known for repetitive and challenging hills, as well as wooden bridges that are dangerous when
taken too quickly. There are segments that are suitable for beginners, but generally you should save this
park for your more experienced days.

Getting the Hang of It?

If you have progressed through the trail systems and are enjoying your skating experience, the next step is to get
faster and skate longer distances. Getting faster takes practice, it takes time on your skates, time in the gym, and
less time on the couch or in the kitchen. But you don’t need to be a superstar to skate in an inline event or join a
group skate.

Organized group skates typically consist of about a dozen skaters who arrive at a predetermined location and skate
together. Learning to skate in close proximity to other skates in a paceline is just another skill a skater learns as they
develop. Click here for more information on group skates for ail skill levels.

Inline skating events range from a few hundred meters, to 10k’s, to half marathons and marathons, to uttra-