Speed Skating: Tips for Beginners
Oct 15, 2021
Speed skating is a globally popular sport. Children and adults love this sport, and the excitement and passion are growing with every passing year. There are many coaching and training facilities available in many places. However, people who do not have exposure to this sport sometimes get the wrong impression of this sport's difficulty, especially the parents of young kids.
Beginning speed skating needs a good deal of confidence, training, and practice. As you slip into your inline speed skates, get ready to have some tough time before you can stand on skates without the support and start gliding ahead with confidence.
1. Inline Speed Skating Gear
Never make the mistake of trying inline skating without proper gear. Keeping yourself safe must be your priority because no matter how hard you may try, there will be falls and bumps initially. You should be ready for them with the proper gear.
Your safety gear for speed skating must include helmet and wrist guards. For more protection, you might want to add knee and elbow guards and crash pads. The helmet helps you to keep your head together in case of falls. Wrist guards are essential because the most frequent injuries incurred during speed skating are wrist fractures and wrist sprains. Crash pads are heavily padded shorts to support you in case of falls. They are worn under the clothing. You might not feel very comfortable and trendy, but this protective gear can save you from severe injuries and can be a life-saver.
2. Guide to buying speed skates
When you have done some training on the rented skates, this is the time to buy your pair of speed skates. There is a wide variety of speed skates with different boots, wheel sizes, and wheel types. It is not always easy to just go and pick up a pair.
Here is a comprehensive guide to help you choose the best speed skates for yourself.
2.1. Know your conditions
Buying a perfect speed skates pair is not about the looks. It is more about the conditions and circumstances where you will be skating. The floor type, skills level, age, and speed requirements play an essential role in selection. As you grow more professional, you will know better how the temperature and wind speed affect your skating performance.
2.2. How to Choose Speed Skates
For speed skating, focus on boot, frame, and wheel size. You may choose the speed inline skates by gender, design, and brand, but the main focus should still be the wheel size and boot type.
The boots on speed skates are made for more performance rather than for more safety. The boots are;
- Low cut for free movement and maneuverability.
- Snuggle fit for better control
- Stiff boot for maximum power transfer
However, as a beginner, you should opt for a slightly higher boot cuff to provide some strength and support to your ankle. Later you can graduate to lower cuffs for more freedom of movements.
Wheel selection depends on many factors. You may choose wheels for dry or wet conditions; you can select by using indoors or outdoors. Wind and temperature also play an essential role in wheel selection.
However, wheel size is the most critical factor. The bigger the wheel size, the more the speed. But the bigger wheel size is challenging to handle and master. Therefore, initially, it is better to find a balance between speed and stability. The wheel size in speed skates ranges between 90 to 125 mm. A good compromise between speed and strength comes at 100 mm. This size is right enough for a year or so before you move on to a bigger wheel size for more speed.
Speed skates have harder wheels for less friction and easy gliding. The wheel used for speed skating must be narrower for the least friction. However, the tradeoff is between stability and speed again. The narrower wheels are less stable but faster.
The frame is the part of the speed skate on which the wheels are mounted. Some frames can accommodate three wheels, while others can adjust four. The wheelbase is longer to provide stability with even bigger and narrower wheels on high speeds for speed skating. You can even customize the setup in the front and back according to your preferences with some frame types.
The bearings are placed inside the wheels and are a crucial part of speed skates. Most of the speed skaters use Abec 7 bearings that can be replaced when needed. Silicon bearings can also be used. They usually need a good cleaning to perform at their best so cleaning them a few times before replacement can get you rolling longer.
3. How to Start Skating
As you start skating, before hitting the skating rink or any training place, giving it a try at home is always better. It can save you from initial injuries; well, your ego can be one of them.
Grassy sidewalks or grassy patches are also ideal for the very first steps with speed skates. As there is a lot of friction, you cannot go rolling and falling hard on the ground. Some steps on grass help you to get comfortable with your skates and the feel of the fastenings and snuggle fitting of speed skates.
Flat surfaces without any debris or rocks are also great for your next step when you are ready to start moving on your speed skates. Empty car parks, open courts, or even your living room can be your training ground.
To give it a try in your living room, lace up your speed skates and try to stand up. Initially, you may expect some unwanted sliding and rolling of skates, but once you stand up with some support, then make it a point to stand tall. Once you are stable, take the position for your first roll. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. The back should be slightly tilted forward and knees folded as if you are sitting on a chair.
Now push on one heel and glide on the other leg. Now push your other leg under you and slide on the first leg. Keep making this alternate move till you reach the wall or additional support you are looking for.
4. Common Mistakes to be Avoided By Beginners
4.1. Choosing the wrong boot size
Your perfect boot size is your first line of defense against injuries and accidents. A boot that is too loose or too tight will cause damages and blisters and affect your performance. Even trying to adjust your loose boot with socks is not a solution because it will be too warm and sweaty.
This is especially the case with kids when parents want to go one size up to save on the next speed skates pair. This is a highly dangerous practice and can cause serious harm. For children, look out for adjustable speed skates to adjust foot size growth.
4.2. Missing safety gear
Though going without protective gear may look trendy and chic. But falling flat on your brake and lying there with fractures and severe sprains is no beauty. Falling is an inevitable part of speed skating; therefore, protecting against the potential dangers is the way to go. No one, yes, no one, even the most professional skaters, has avoided falls, so even expecting that for yourself is foolish.
4.3. Too advanced skates
Yes, I understand they are hip and trendy and give you an ego boost. Going directly to the bigger and narrower wheels and a low-cut boot will only be a source of regrets. As we discussed in our guide to buying speed skates, these wheel types are for faster and professional skaters and have the least support and stability. You need to practice and be an expert before you graduate to these high-end speed skates. One year is a good time on average to practice with entry-level skates before high-level pairs.
4.4. Not knowing how to stop.
As falling is a part of speed skating, so is stopping. It is a vital part of training to learn how to stop. You can not just bump into a wall every time you want to stop. There has to be a proper and graceful way to stop. So, learning how to stop is among the first lesson topics in speed skating training.
4.5. Skating on slopes
Slopes are very tempting, especially when going downhill. You might think you can just land a foot and zoom; off you go. Unfortunately, this is like living in a fool's paradise. The slopes turn you into an unstoppable object if you do not know how to control your pace and maintain your body weight. This control is an advanced skill, so there are no hills and slopes until you know precisely what to do.
Inline speed skating is an adventurous competitive sport. Therefore, learning it professionally is very important to keep yourself at par and safe. As we discussed in our guide to buying speed skates, always buy the right size and right kind of speed skates for your circumstances. Then, move on to proper lessons for the best outcome.