How To Start Skating
Part l: Your First Steps

(By Robert "former-Gumby-wannabe" Burnson)

You remember Gumby, the claymation cartoon character? ... You know, the one that looked like an asparagus spear with legs. ... Walked funny. ... Well, that's you as you take your first steps on inline skates. Yeah, I know, a little embarrassing. But be patient. Follow this tutorial. Before long you'll be rolling along as as lovely as Kristi Yamaguchi.

We're going to take this one step at a time, OK?

1. Homework Check. ... Have you read the Seven Deadly Sins of Beginning Inline Skaters? ... No! ... Well, read it! ... We can't go any further until you've done your homework.

2. Equipment Check. ... OK. You've done your reading. Time to check the equipment. ... Have you got skates that fit? Wrist guards? Knee pads? Elbow pads? And a helmet? (And some of you should also have crash pads, too.) All right. Good. ... (You haven't been drinking, have you? If you have, put everything away. And we'll try again tomorrow.)

3. Sea of Tranquility ... Remember how the Apollo astonauts had to find a soft piece of real estate for the first moon landing. Same principal applies here.... Select either a nice thickly carpeted room or a grassy lawn (not recently watered) and take all your equipment (skates, pads and helmet) and dump them somewhere in the middle.

4. Gear up. ... Sit down next to the pile of equipment and put on all of the protective gear. Make sure everything fits snug (so it won't slide off) but is not so tight that it will cut off circulation.

5. Put on your skates. Lace and/or buckle 'em up. (Whatever they got!) Try tightening them a little more. Try loosening them a little. Make sure they are comfortable but snug. Make sure the top buckles are secure. It's the one that steadies your ankle.

6. Prepare for liftoff.... Take a deep breath. ... It's time to stand. Start by getting down on your hands and knees. Now raise your right knee (lefties do the opposite) to your right armpit. That will bring your right skate under your body. Put your weight on this skate. Then straighten out your left leg, keeping your hands on the ground. Finally, bring your left skate up even with your right skate and stand slowly, knees bent.

7. A new dance. ... OK. Time to do the Gumby. Just pick up your feet and start walking. Stay on the grass or shag! Once you hit a smooth surface, (ie. the sidewalk or a wood floor) you will start rolling -- and that, baby, is a whole new roller derby. ... Go ahead and walk around for awhile. Get comfortable on your skates. ... I sure hope no one is videotaping!

8. Had enough for today? ... Here's where you've got to make a choice. Are you ready to start rolling on pavement? Or have you done enough for one day? ... If you've done enough, take off the skates and treat yourself to a well-deserved reward in recognition of your extensive bravery! ... If you are ready to go on, read How to Start Skating, Part ll.


1. Before you put on your skates, give the wheels a whirl. Make sure they roll freely. If they don't, make sure that the wheel screws aren't too tight. If that doesn't help, check the bearings.

2. When you are walking on your skates (or skating on them, for that matter), always keep your knees bent and your hands out in front of you. This will help you maintain your balance.

3. While walking, keep the toes of your skates pointed outward for extra stability.

4. If you fall, try to fall ON your pads!

What You'll Need

skates that fit)

• wrist guards

• helmet

• elbow pads

• (optional) crash pads

• comfortable clothes

• a grassy lawn or carpeted room



Copyright 2006 by Robert Burnson

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