For most of us, the past month has been a wonderful month of travelling, feasting and get-togethers, lapping up the no-restrictions gatherings and travels since the pandemic. With February drawing near, it has dawned on me that we are only 11 months shy of 2024! Are you thinking of picking up or mastering a new hobby in the new year? Consider picking up inline skating, which is a form of full-body exercise. I got in touch with a pro in this area.
According to Ricardo Irsyad Lachika Bin Irfan, a Retail Sports Specialist from the Decathlon team with a decade of inline skating experience, “Inline skating is one of the most effective sports to improve physical fitness and maintain general well-being. Skaters benefit from both aerobic and anaerobic exercise benefits such as improved cardiovascular system, muscle strengthening and toning, improved balance, coordination and agility, and increased core strength.”
While inline skating is typically done for fitness and exercise, figure skating consists of technical skills which need a long time for an individual to master – including jumping, spinning, and a lot of footwork.Ricardo
As someone who inline skated on an amateur level years ago, I was eager to pick up this hobby again and looked to Ricardo for advice. So whether you are new to inline skating or plan to get this as a gift to your children, BFF or S.O. (sounds like an awesome Valentine’s Day gift!), read on to find out more about getting started, tips and tricks to achieving a higher level of mastery and also what to look out for when picking out suitable gears and outfits when inline skating – the interview below has all the answers.
Yahoo Life Singapore: Inline skates, roller skates, ice skating and skateboard – how would you rate their difficulty level as a sport for beginners to pick up? Which sport is the most similar to inline skating?
Ricardo: Many beginners find inline skating to be the easiest. There is a learning curve to all types of skating as the sport requires the individual to balance the skates. If I had to rate their difficulty level as a sport for beginners to pick up from the easiest to the most challenging, I would rate place them as follows:
1. Inline skating (easiest)
2. Roller skating
4. Ice skating (most challenging)
While roller skates have a broader base of stability, the roller skate plate itself is relatively short and extends from just under the toe to the heel – which may result in falling forward or backwards while the skater is still learning. This may also cause wheel clipping, where the wheels on one skate clip to the wheels on the other skate, resulting in a stumble or a fall. In comparison, inline skates have a longer frame that usually extends past the toes and behind the heel – making the skates more stable and less prone to wheel clipping.
Additionally, comparing inline skates to skateboards, users can use the braking system on the inline skate to come to a halt. In contrast, skateboards do not offer beginners a reliable way to stop at high speed.
Regarding similarity, movement-wise, that would be ice skating or figure skating. However, it is also crucial to note that ice/figure skating requires a higher skill level. While inline skating is typically done for fitness and exercise, figure skating consists of technical skills which need a long time for an individual to master – including jumping, spinning, and a lot of footwork.
How and where does one start to learn inline skating? Is it possible to self-learn?
For sure, inline skating is a sport that one can self-learn. For those who prefer to be guided, there are inline skating classes available locally which one can join based on their skill levels – either beginner, intermediate, or advanced level. Check out Decathlon’s free sporting classes on Decathlon Activities.
For beginners, individuals typically start by learning to execute the basic movements of skating, including moving forwards, backwards and braking. Intermediate to advanced skaters will move on to do tricks such as jumping, the one-leg trick, the alternating cross, or the backward stroll. While these are the specific skills taught in inline skating classes, it is possible to self-learn these tricks. Practice is key. Mastering a craft is all about building muscle memory which develops over time.
What are the top things to note when picking out inline skating gear?
To start, it is crucial to have the essential equipment, such as inline skates for beginners, and safety gear, like helmets and elbow and knee pads. Here are some of our expert tips on what to look out for when shopping for inline skating gear:
Skates should have comfortable and good ankle support, with padded boots and tongues to prevent blisters.
If you're looking to skate outdoors, consider softer wheels, which help absorb more shock. If you're looking to skate indoors or on smooth outdoor surfaces with good traction, consider skates with harder wheels, as they are less absorbent and allow you to go faster. Anything between 78A to 82A in hardness (measured by the wheel's durometer) works for indoor and outdoor use – perfect for skaters still trying to figure out which terrain they prefer.
Look at the sizing chart and get one that fits well. Typically, roller skate sizes are similar to one's regular shoe sizing. In terms of fit, skates should be snug – not too tight, which will cause leg cramps and not too loose, which can lead to rolled ankles.
Wear tall socks with your skates to avoid friction against your ankles.
Safety equipment is just as crucial as the skates. Use a helmet to protect your head during a fall. Additionally, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards are also helpful in preventing scrapes and cushioning our joints in case of a fall.
For beginners, I highly recommend these products:
How should one dress for inline skating?
I recommend an outfit that is comfortable and allows mobility. An example would be to pair a sports T-shirt with a pair of sports shorts, such as:
How do I stay safe while inline skating? What safety rules should beginners take note of?
For beginners still learning how to move and stop in their skates, we recommend choosing a location away from the roadside. Instead, you can consider skating at parks and park connectors with open spaces and flat terrains.
When skating, it is crucial to be aware of your surroundings. Be mindful of keeping to the skating lane and looking for pedestrians walking on a shared path. Also, consider wearing brightly coloured clothes to remain visible to the other members of the public.
We also recommend checking the visibility and weather conditions before skating. As beginners, it would be advisable to skate during daylight hours. It is also advisable to avoid skating when it is raining as wet terrains are slippery and may increase the risk of an injury.
Additionally, in sunny Singapore, staying hydrated and protecting ourselves from the sun with the Natural mineral sunscreen stick SPF50+ while skating outdoors is essential. For a hands-free experience, we recommend bringing along a small bag or a water bottle belt holder to keep all your belongings.
What are some of the most common injuries sustained during inline skating, and how can one prevent them? And is there a proper falling technique?
The most common injuries skaters see are injuries to the ankle and wrist when one falls. Therefore, as part of the basic training, we recommend learning to fall safely to prevent such injuries while skating. This includes keeping our knees bent for a more stable lower body movement. As such, should we fall over, we will fall onto our knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards, which will cushion the fall and protect us from serious injuries.
Of course, for our gear to protect us effectively, we must first ensure that they fit right so that when we do fall on them, the gear is kept in the intended places to protect our different body parts. Additionally, skaters should skate safely to avoid potentially injuring themselves and those around them. Finally, skaters should always have a focused mindset and prioritise the safety of themselves and others.
Is there any age limit when it comes to inline skating? How young can one start inline skating?
There is no age limit to skating, and anyone can skate as long as they can balance while being on the skates; they have good physical strength, stamina, and hand-and-eye coordination. Some kids as young as four years old are learning how to skate. Start kids on inline skating from a young age to develop the motor skills needed to balance on the skates. Additionally, having kids learn the basics of skating at a young age would boost their confidence to learn advanced skating skills as they grow.
I have some basic skills in balancing, moving off and braking. Where do I go from here, and how does one improve at inline skating?
It is excellent that you have the basic skills of inline skating! Skating is a very technical sport. While many can get the hang of moving forward in skates, we can continuously improve our technical skills and skating techniques by watching free videos online by experts who can teach skaters some tricks. Here are some beginner-friendly inline skating tricks you can try.
Technique 1: Learn how to do simple jumps
Find a crack to start practising. First, jump as you usually do. As you jump, your arms will go up but don't let them rise past your chin. When your feet touch the ground, bend your knees and sink low to absorb the impact from the jump while your arms remain stretched to the front – diagonal to the ground. After that, roll away from the landing spot safely.
Technique 2: Master the heel-toe trick
Learn to skate on the heel wheel on one skate, and do this stage until you are confident. Start with your weight distributed on both feet, with your feet scissored. If you have a heel break, ensure that the heel break is on the rear foot. Next, with both knees bent, straighten your front leg so that it is nearly straight, and this will force the toes of your skate upwards, leaving the forward skate running along the heel wheel only. Next, bend the knee of your rear leg and simultaneously push the foot backwards – forcing your skate onto the toe wheel. With both motions done together, you now have a heel-toe trick.
Technique 3: Learn how to skate backwards
Start by rolling backwards on a flat surface to allow yourself to feel more comfortable with the backward motion. Once satisfied, skate with backward scissors by angling your feet outwards into a v shape. Push out to the side with your toe wheels and when your feet are a little wider than shoulder width, start bringing them together again. When your heels almost touch, pivot your toes to push out again – beginning a new scissor. This movement will lead you to perform a figure 8 pattern that helps you to skate backwards.
Where are the best spots in Singapore to inline skate?
For beginners, we'd recommend inline skating at a place with plenty of flat ground, which will help you master the basics. Some good locations include East Coast Park or Coney Island. For advanced skaters, I'd recommend going for a thrilling ride at Somerset Skatepark or the Xtreme Skatepark.
Any other tips to share on inline skating?
My best advice would be, "Remember to never give up". It may be challenging at first, but if you keep practising, you will definitely get the hang of it, and hopefully, you'll also grow to love and be passionate about any skating sport.