Rock 'N Roll

In-line skating is one of the fastest growing recreational sports in the United States. Why? Because in-line is a fun, low-impact, life-long activity that is great physical exercise for the whole family.

Schools are beginning to teach in-line through the Skate in School Program provided by the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and Roller Blade.

Recreation programs are also beginning to include in-line skating as part of their program activities offered to kids and adults. Yes, adults of all ages are beginning to take up in-line, some side by side with their children. Why not camps?


For beginning skaters you need a grass or carpet area and a smooth-surfaced area. First teach the skill and technique on grass/carpet, then, move to pavement or floor.

In a town/city camp setting look for large parking lots surrounded by grass areas. School lots are great during the summer. Other ideas include dead end roads, gymnasiums, roller rinks, or cafeteria facilities.

Being outside is not a must. You will need the first couple of days just to teach them to put on equipment properly and learn the Rules of the Road, which follow shortly. Having a small area prevents beginning skaters from going too fast at first.

For more advanced skaters, look for parks, bike trails, large gymnasiums, roller rinks, skate parks, and safe streets. Even intermediate and advanced skaters can be challenged in small areas with just a few cones and some interesting obstacles, equipment or ramps.

For camps located in rural areas, look for paved roads, large indoor facilities (like a mess hall), or try the floor in the cabins.

Campers first need to be taught about protective gear and skates, how to put them on, how to maintain them and why it is important to wear gear.

Next, in progression, should be learning the aforementioned Rules of the Road, how to fall using protective gear, how to get up, and the basic skills of moving, stopping, and turning.

Highly recommended is the progression of skills offered by the International In-line Skating Association (IISA). The IISA provides lessons from certified teachers and certification programs to become a certified teacher.

The IISA Web site provides helpful hints for teaching kids and activities to keep them practicing basic skills. I would recommend certifying at least one counselor or the camp director.

Roller Blade and the National Association of Physical Education and Sport provide the Skate in School program that would be very adaptable for use in the camp setting.

Every good camp counselor is a good teacher. Using developmentally appropriate teaching practices is the best way for your campers to have fun and learn safe skating and proper technique.

First, and most important, the instructor must be enthusiastic and excited about in-line as well as being knowledgeable about the sport, including skill progression, safety issues, and equipment needs. Second, provide positive feedback to your campers. For some, this is a slow learning process and they need lots of encouragement. For others, this is a boring process, so they need lots of encouragement and challenges.

Third, give lots of corrective, specific feedback to help improve skating and allow them the opportunity to practice.

Other good methodology includes being organized, planning extensions for skill practice, getting campers active, incorporating cooperative learning, and providing fun activities for them to enjoy and learn skill at the same time.

Rules of the Road

Safety first! All participants in any program must wear a helmet and protective gear, wrist, elbow, and kneepads. In-line skating is as safe as any other sport if you "gear-up", learn the basics and follow the International In-line Association Rules of the Road. So… let's get rollin'!

Safe skating's a snap when you remember to SLAP. Skate…

• Smart -- Always wear your protective gear -- helmet, wrist, elbow and knee pads. Master the basics -- striding, stopping, and turning. Keep your equipment in proper working order.

• Legal -- Obey all traffic regulations. When on skates, you

should consider yourself to be subject to the same obligations as a bicyclist or a driver of an automobile.

• Alert -- Skate under control at all times. Watch out for

road hazards. Avoid water, oil, and sand. Avoid traffic.

• Polite -- Skate on the right, pass on the left. Announce your intentions by saying, "Passing on your left." Always yield to pedestrians. Be a good ambassador for inline skating.

(Source: IISA Rules of the Road,

Good Web sites for learning more about inline skating are: International In-line Skating Association (IISA) official Web site. Includes lessons, places to skate, skates and gear, events and clubs, certification program, how to maintain equipment, and more. Can be reached through IISA. Great site for on line lessons. State in School Program approved by NASPE, with

skate maintenance, buying, etc. Inline Club of Boston official site Includes techniques, where to skate, buying and selling, etc. Great heel brake tutorial, plus more. Includes techniques, resources and Web links.

These sites are just to get you started; there are many more!

Equipment for the Road

Most participants will have or can borrow in-line skates. Skates, protective gear, and helmets are all that you need to get started.

Good resources include the Roller Blade Company, who will provide good discounts for large groups. Finding creative ways to raise money will be helpful or writing a grant to fund the purchases.

If you have some innovative counselors, they can fix and refurbish old skates or ask for donations of old skates. Once you have a collection of skates and protective wear, you can keep them for many years with proper maintenance.

Whether it's school, camp or home, whether it's aggressive, recreational, fitness or roller hockey, in-line is in. So… let's keep rollin!

The following illustrate the beginning skills of moving, stopping, and turning, with teaching and common mistakes seen in beginner skaters.

Before learning to skate, be comfortable with the Dynamic Ready Position. This is the most stable position standing or gliding.

Dr. Ruth Arnold is an Assistant Professor of Physical Education, Springfield College and IISA Level I Certified Instructor. Dr. Arnold has also been a camp counselor and director.


1 (Ready Position)

The Ready (or Dynamic) Position begins with feet shoulder width apart. Ankles, knees and hips are slightly bent; shoulders are comfortably forward; arms are bent at the elbow so the forearms and hands are within view; and the head is up. An imaginary line should go from the middle of the foot through the hips to the shoulders.

Teaching Cues

Head up

Bent knees

Bent elbows

Common Mistakes

Feet too far apart

Forget to bend knees

Head down instead of up

Leaning too far forward or back

2 (Stride I)

To begin stroking and gliding get in the static ready position in a V stance (toes point out, heels together). V-walk on grass, carpet or pavement and V-walk to a coast in they dynamic ready position. Push on one foot and glide on the other foot (1-2 count). Combine the stroke (push) and glide (roll) in continuous motion.

Teaching Cues

Head up

Ready position

Use inside edges to push at an angle

Common Mistakes

Head looks down

Fail to keep arms bent

Try to push back with toe

3 (Heel Stop)

Use Stride I to dynamic ready position. Scissors braking leg forward, put weight on support leg/back leg, lift toe of braking foot and apply pressure to brake.

Teaching Cues

Glide, scissors

Transfer weight

Lift toe, apply pressure

Common Mistakes

Fail to bring braking foot far enough forward

Lift toe before foot is forward

Not enough pressure

4 (A-Frame Turn -- to the right)

Stride I to the dynamic ready position and glide into the A-stance position. Press down on inside edge of left foot. Lock hips with upper body and focus turning upper body, hips and hands as a unit. Rotate upper body and head into the center of the turn.

Teaching Cues

A-frame glide

Pressure on inside edge

Lock body when turning

Common Mistakes

Don't get skates out far enough

Fail to use inside edges

Poor rotation

5 (Stride II)

Stride II is the same as Stride I except you increase the length of the stroke, increase duration of the glide and increase intensity and knee bend.

Teaching Cues

Use inside edges to push hard

Bend and extend leg


Common Mistakes

Fail to extend push leg fully

Fail to bring skate back to or over midline

6 (T-stop)

Glide in ready position, leaning slightly forward. Lift action skate and place inside edge perpendicularly a foot behind the support foot. Shift arms opposite the action skate, at chest level, to counterbalance pressure. Apply pressure on inside edge of action skate. Pull arch of action skate toward support skate.

Teaching Cues

Ready position

Lift, rotate 90 degrees and place action foot

Shift arms to counterbalance

Apply pressure on inside edges while pulling toward support skate heel

Common Mistakes

Incomplete rotation

Fail to counterbalance

Fail to use inside edge

Uneven blade placement

7 (Parallel Turn)

Get in the ready position with scissors feet -- lead foot in the direction you want to turn. Use corresponding edges and apply pressure on outside edge of lead foot and inside edge of other foot. Rotate upper body and head into the center of the turn.

Teaching Cues

Scissors feet -- lead leg turning direction

Turn body

Use corresponding edge

Common Mistakes

Fail to use edges

Fail to use body in turn

Wrong foot forward

8 (Swizzle)

V-stance ready position and apply pressure to inside edges. Bend knees and push into A-stance. A-stance to dynamic ready position with continuous motion.

Teaching Cues

Ready position

Pressure on inside edges

Out to A-stance

Back to ready position

Common Mistakes

Fail to use edges

Fail to extend out far in A-stance

Bryan BuchkoComment