Stay safe, skaters


photo courtesy of Simone Gagne

I’ve had three pairs of skates in my life. These pink ones are my favorite, but I have another pair that have a leopard print on them that I don’t normally wear outdoors because the wheels are much better suited for inside use. The wheels are harder which is much better for the floors in a rink. The photo was taken quite a while ago, at Merrill Park, while I was trying to learn how to spin.

Roller skating, an old favorite, is again becoming popular across the world.

While some people are enjoying this activity in skating rinks, many have opted to learn outside where there is more room and more flexibility to learn different tricks and methods.

Alas, skating outside means your chances of getting hurt are much higher. The pavement also can tatter your boots, wear down your toe stop and wheels, and snap your shoelaces.

Roller skaters have started adapting by using a few simple techniques to protect their favorite skates. Some pairs can cost well over $100.

Indoor skaters rely on toe stops, but these rubbery features wear out very quickly when used on rough pavement. To keep toe stops intact for as long as possible, outdoor skaters should use them only when absolutely necessary. That way, if you do need to use them in an emergency, they’ll be there.

Here are some maneuvers outdoor skaters should learn:

T Stop

A T Stop will not stop you immediately, but it will slow you down. To perform a T Stop, pick up your least dominant foot and place it behind the skate still on the ground as close to a 90 degree angle as possible.

Your front two wheels should be just grazing the ground and your back two wheels should be above the ground. It is very important to make sure your feet stay together in this process, or there is a great chance you’ll fall!

An example where you would use this would be slowing down to step off a curb or slowing down to go down a small hill.


Bubbles will slow you down but not stop you if you do them correctly. Start by standing and pushing down on the outer sides of your feet. Your legs will move outwards, but before you fall you need to push in on the insides of your feet. This will give you just enough momentum to continue skating but at a slower speed.

Digital art: yellow roller skate with pink laces
This picture shows my first pair of skates from when I was younger. I colored on them with a fabric marker. (Simone Gagne)


This is a slightly more complicated stopping technique for roller skating. Once you slow down, on one of your feet (preferably the one you feel most comfortable using) push on the outside of your foot and you will drift in a circle.

Once you put your foot down flat you will come to a complete stop.

Another important adaptation outdoor skaters have made is to make sure there is nothing in the way of their wheels: rocks, sticks, trash, etc.

Skating outside can be dangerous if you aren’t aware of your surroundings. According to a roller sports safety article on, two-thirds of skaters do not wear any safety equipment, and because of that over 100,000 inline skaters are injured each year.

So it is very important that you wear comfortable, high quality safety equipment that is the correct size, and make sure that when you start practicing you worry more about what is in front of you rather than falling down.

While roller skating rinks aren’t as common as they used to be, some do still exist.

In our local area, Everett Area on Loudon Road offers public roller skating during the summer months.

New England Roller Sports in Bow offers roller skating year-round.

Here is some of my favorite protection equipment:
Protection Gear

And an arm phone holder for convenience:
Arm Phone Holder