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World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.

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April 27, 2011

Are Clap Frames Good for Inline Skaters?

QHi, Bill: I am skating on clap frames. The frames are slightly heavier than my standard frames. But I find that when using them, my overall technique is better and that I sprint faster and climb more easily. Claps seem to work for me. But I don’t see anyone else skating on them. What are your thoughts about clap frames? Thank you. - Frank from Rockford

[Editor’s note: Clap frames are attached to skates by a hinge under the toe and swing freely from the heel.]

Hi, Frank: Skate makers started making clap frames for inline skaters about 10 years ago, inspired by the success of claps for ice speed skaters. But things didn’t go so well. Whatever benefits were provided by claps seemed to be canceled out by the extra weight of the clap apparatus.

Lots of skaters tried them. But virtually all of them were soon back on standard frames. Some hapless pro skaters had to keep skating on them to please sponsors who made claps. But these skaters would often turn the claps into standard frames by tightening them so they were no longer swinging from the heel.

A couple years after claps appeared, big wheels were introduced. Unlike claps, big wheels provided real speed advantages. And as skaters and manufacturers switched to big wheels, clap frames were essentially forgotten, although some development has continued.

My opinion is that the clap frames really didn’t provide much of a benefit. They mostly helped skaters who were hamstrung by bad technique.

Claps extended the amount of time the back wheels were in contact with the ground. As a result, they helped skaters get a full side push even if they failed to maintain the low skating position.

Once the importance of proper technique became widely recognized in the inline world, claps became obsolete.

I’m not sure what size wheels you are skating on. But if you are on big wheels and still find you skate better on claps, it could be that your technique needs some polishing.

Cheers, Bill

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