A lot of how-to guides out there explain how to get started on your roller skates, but not how to stop on them. Yet, being able to brake on your roller skates is one of the most important skills you’ll learn. This is likely why the most commonly asked question from new skaters is “how do I stop?“.
There are several different techniques used to stop on roller skates. One of the most common ways to stop is by using your knee pad; it’s basic but it gets the job done. However, there’s also the plow and T-Stop, which help you put on the brakes.
As the name aptly suggests, this form of stop is all about the knee pads, which means you can only do it if wearing them. However, considering you shouldn’t roller skate without elbow and knee pads, this shouldn’t be a problem.
You simply need to lower one of your knees to the ground, touching the ground gently. To help reduce the heaviness of your impact, you should lean into the movement, essentially wrapping your body around your knee.
This is the most commonly used stop by beginners because it doesn’t require any form of skill. Nevertheless, while it lacks the skill, it puts a lot of pressure on your pads and so it’s best to only use this if you’re unable to stop any other way.
Baking on your skates this way is another easy way to do it, however it does come with a bit of risk, especially if you don’t have built-in heel or toe stops on your skates.
In a similar way to how you lightly drag your knee pad on the ground to stop, you do the same with the stops at the end of your boots. By doing this, you create resistance against your movements, which will ultimately bring you to a complete stop.
Nonetheless, while a simple way to put the brakes on, it also puts your feet at awkward angles, angles which are more prone to causing injury. For example, putting so much pressure on your toe leaves the ankle exposed and unstable, making it easier to twist or even break your ankle should you fall.
What is more, you want your legs to be in a scissor position when you use this stop, with your back leg being used to break and not your front one.
Spinning might sound like an unusual way to help you stop, but it’s actually incredibly effective at both slowing you down and bringing you to a complete standstill.
To perform this move, all you need to do is place your dominant skate down while tracing a large circle around it with your non-dominant skate, e.g. if you’re right handed, you may find your right foot is the more dominant as well.
By moving into that fixed spinning motion, you are able to slow yourself down and eventually come to a gentle stop, all while staying in one fixed location. Alternatively, you can use spinouts to help you slow down without eventually stopping, which is handy for changing direction, changing our pace, etc.
Of course, given the fact that this involves a lot more movement than some of the other techniques, some novices might not feel comfortable executing it.
We return that dragging motion we’ve mentioned before, only this time you’ll be dragging one foot behind you, forming a T shape with your stance.
Just as with the other stops which have involved dragging, the key element here is doing it gently and without too great a force. What is more, for this to work well, you need to ensure your stride isn’t too wide, and that you keep your forward skate vertical.
This way, when you slowly release your back boot to come and rest against your forward one, you will create that T shape that gives this move its name.
Although this is a commonly used means of stopping, it really shouldn’t be your main source of baking; the T-Stop is better used to help you slow down or move into another move. The reason for this is because the T-Stop will put a lot of unnecessary wear on your boots, meaning they have a shorter lifespan than normal.
If you’re a fan of watching roller derbys, or even attending them, then you’ll know this stop well. The plow stop is a staple go-to for a lot of skaters, simply because of how easy and effective it is at getting the job done.
All you need to do is widen your stance so that your legs are spread apart, making sure to have both boots pointing inward. Then you need to push down through your thighs to engage those big leg muscles that will allow you to roll to a stop.
It’s a highly effective means of stopping, and is less likely to result in some awkward or unexpected injury, and so this should be a regular braking technique for all roller skaters, professional or not.
When you read how-tos on lateral braking, this technique can sound really complicated and scary to execute. Yet in fact, it’s a super easy means of stopping you and/or slowing you down.
To perform this well, you need to be moving at a slow-ish pace, with your feet parallel to one another, e.g. side by side as you roll. Then you need to take one of your feet forward, aiming the opposite way, so if you’re moving forwards, its trajectory is to the side. As you’re doing this, plant your second boot down, much like you’re taking a side step, and you’ll come to a stop. If you’ve done it right, your feet will be side by side once more.
The best way to think of this is like it’s a slowed down, half spinout — there’s some element of circular movement here, but it’s very subtle and with far less momentum.
As you can see, there are plenty of different ways to brake while on your roller skates.
Some of these techniques are among the most basic, designed to be used when you’re unable to utilise any other move, e.g. knee pad or toe brakes. Whereas other, slightly more advanced moves, such as the spinout, are better for both your form and the wear on your boots.
No matter which type of stop you choose to utilise, or if you move between several different ones, the important factor here is to practice so that you master your skill. Furthermore, you should be wearing your protective gear such as gloves at all times, thus ensuring you have greater levels of safety should you not perfectly execute the stop you intended to use.