World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.
How Do the Top Skaters Slow Down?
Hi, Bill: What braking techniques do the top inline speed skaters use? And of those methods, which are the most effective and safest? - Dennis, California
Hi, Dennis: Most top skaters use the zigzag (slalom) method of braking to slow down from high speeds. Zigzagging is probably the most effective braking technique — and it saves on wheel wear.
But it's not quick, so it's only good for those times when you've got plenty of room to stop.
If you're not going fast, duck walking in reverse works well. But it can be hard on wheels, leaving them with flat spots.
For quick stops, you can use eight-wheel hockey stops (if you know how) or T-stops. But both of these techniques trash your wheels.
Using a heel brake is probably the safest way to stop. But top speed skaters don't use them because they hinder technique.
In light of the limited options, most top skaters learn to dodge obstacles and plan their stops far in advance. That way they don't have to resort to drastic, and not always reliable, measures.
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