Planet column: Skate Coach

Putting Power in Your Heel Stop

The Final Step: Burn Rubber, Baby!

(The final installment of Kathy's three-part series on mastering the heel stop.)

By Kathy McSparran, certified inline instructor

In previous Skate Coach columns, we've covered the basics of the heel stop and prescribed some exercises to clear up common braking ailments.

Now it's time to take it to the next level and get you screeching to a halt. You know: stopping right here, right now, like you mean it!

We're going to get you there with two drills. But first, be sure you've mastered the basics from Part 1 and Part 2.

The Period at the End of the Sentence

In the first part of this series, we broke the heel stop into three steps: Bend, Scissor and Brake. You can think of these steps as the beginning, middle and end of a sentence. But there's still one thing missing: the period at the end of the sentence.

The next drill will teach you to add the period so your stops don't go on and on and on, like a run-on sentence.

Here's the drill. Stand in the grass and perform the three basic steps: Bend, Scissor and Brake. Once you arrive in the Brake position, bounce up and down a bit, driving your brake pad forward and down into the grass.

Now imagine that your braking foot is pressing a shovel diagonally into the earth. You should immediately feel the extra stopping power this gives you.

If not, make sure your braking foot is one skate length ahead of the other and that you are not bending forward at the waist so much that your shoulders are in front of your brake.

Repeat this drill standing on the pavement. Be sure to drive your weight down and forward into the brake pad.

Now, try it rolling. But go slow. (This technique is highly effective. Go too fast and you could find yourself catapulting like a pole vaulter.)

Slow yourself down to the point where you are nearly stopped using gradual pressure on your brake pad. Then pop the "period" to extinguish your last bit of forward momentum.


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Want to perfect your heel stop? ... Read all three parts of Kathy's series:

Part 1: How to brake without breaking

Part 2: "Help! ... I still can't stop!"

Part 3: Putting power into your heel stop

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Related reading
Go to the Planet's Beginners Guide to Inline Skating

Read more of Kathy McSparran's Skate Coach columns



Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson

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