Rolling Over Rough Surfaces

Have you been skating when you find yourself rapidly approaching an area where the surface is rough from heaved asphalt/concrete or perhaps broken, possibly even sandy or and you do not have time to stop or change direction?  Maybe the trail suddenly morphs into crushed rock for a short stretch due to a repair since your last visit.  Imagine that someone close in front of you has fallen and your only option is to change direction onto a grassy shoulder.  What can you do to avoid disaster?  Of course, the best preventative course is always to be alert, look ahead and skate under control so that you can stop or change direction in time.  

The key to a successful transition over the rough surface is to maintain balance.  As you might expect, this is easier said than done.  The technique for maintaining balance is to get in the proper position as quickly as possible - and obviously before encountering the rough surface.  Anticipate that as soon as you encounter the rough area, there most likely will be a sudden reduction in speed but your leading skate/leg should be able to support you so that you will not lose your balance forward. 

  1. Scissor your skates (one in front of the other) to provide forward support - the wider the scissored stance, the better. 

  2. Knees must be bent and hips lowered more than normal to lower the center of gravity for stability.  You should almost feel like you are midway to sitting in a chair.  Your arms should be extended and parallel to the ground (I assume you will still be upright).

  3. And last, weight should be well toward the heels with approximately 60% of the weight on the rear leg.

  4. The KEY TO SUCCESS is to keep your front skate forward at all times and push back off of it when you encounter resistance from the sudden reduction in speed.

I recommend that you practice this stance by rolling from a smooth surface onto grass at 5 - 8 mph to the point you can roll to a stop and no longer need to catch your balance by running in your skates.  After that, increase your speed to 10+ mph until you can roll to a stop.  Once you have attained confidence, you should occasionally practice it so that it will become automatic if you find yourself in an emergency.

In the proper position I have been able to roll over crushed rock for distances upward of 15' feet or so, over manhole covers, sewer grates and the like and even into grass for up to 15 - 20 yards or as far as my speed will allow.  Using the stance in reverse, I often look for grassy hills to roll down backwards.  The point is, this position will be your best bet to safely make a transition over rough surfaces.

Mike Merriman
Certified Inline Skating Instructor
Zephyr Inline Skate Tour Guide