Tips to teach kids to roller skate
Roller skating is a popular pastime and can be great exercise. It also helps children develop skills of balance and coordination.
The first recorded use of skates took place more than 200 years ago in a 1743 theater production, during which actors attached wheels to their footwear to mimic ice skating on the stage. This was the invention of John Joseph Merlin. Other inventors saw the potential for skates. James Plimpton revolutionized the roller skate in 1863 when he designed quad wheel skates. He also established the New York Roller Skating Association and opened up a skating rink in Rhode Island to help manufacture public demand for skating to sell his roller skates.
Children can be introduced to skating while young and develop the skills to enjoy this hobby throughout their lives. Here are some tips for parents and guardians looking to school kids in the basics of roller skating.
- Prepare safety gear. It’s important to stock up on safety equipment before the first lesson. Children should be equipped with helmets, wrist protection, elbow pads, and knee pads. Their skates should be well-fitting.
- Practice balance first. Balance on skates is achieved when there is equal weight distributed on the front and back wheels of the skates. This happens by standing on skates with the body angled slightly forward. Skaters should look straight ahead rather than down at their feet, which will cause them to lean forward too much and potentially lose balance. Feet should be shoulder width apart
- Soften the knees. Skaters should not have their knees locked and legs stiff. Slightly bending at the knees can also help balance and lower the center of gravity in the body. Rollerland Skate Center suggests having children start by walking in the skates to get a feel and then encouraging short bursts of rolling. They can glide on one foot until the momentum stops, and then try the other one.
- Start on a level surface. A level surface, such as a blacktop or a skating rink, is preferential for first lessons. Skaters who are traveling downhill can pick up too much speed and then lose balance. It’s best to learn to skate gradually.
- Resist the urge to step in. Parents do not want to see their children get hurt or discouraged so they may swoop in prematurely to grab a child swaying on skates, or insist on holding hands. This may not work to the kids’ advantage and will only delay the development of the child’s ability to skate.
- Stopping is important, too. As children get the hang of skating, they’ll need to learn how to stop. Quad skates typically have the toe stop on the front of the skate. Inline skates may have the stopper on the heel. Children can build up a little speed and then practice stopping with the foot that feels most comfortable.
- Get up from falls. It’s normal to fall when learning to roller skate. Safety gear can prevent many injuries. To get up relatively easily, skaters should get to a kneeling position with one knee on the floor and the other leg with the skate wheels on the floor, knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Position the chest leaning forward over the upright knee. Dig the toe stop or the boot of the leg on the ground into the floor. Reach forward to create momentum and then roll backwards so that you’re in a squatting position and can get both feet parallel and the body to standing.
Roller skating is something children can learn early on, paving the way to a lifetime enjoying this rewarding pastime.
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