Slalom Introduction

I often join my skater friends at Nottingham Jubilee campus to practise our slalom skills (it’s a really fun part of skating!). During term time, BladeSoc also hold Slalom sessions in the Portland Atrium on Sundays 8pm-10pm. The floor is really smooth in this room so it’s ideal!

So far, the list of slalom tricks I can do comfortably (though not fully perfect like the slalom videos you can find on YouTube!), is fairly small- though I am slowly improving with practise and moving onto different tricks as more skills are gained! I think it’s worth mentioning here (before I get into it) what slalom actually is: it’s basically skating around and between a line of cones but doing skating “tricks” to do so, with the cones varying in distances apart. Normally in competitions, there are 3 lines of cones set at 50cm/ 80cm/ 120cm distances apart. You also get scored in competition for: the complexity of the trick; the fluidity of the trick/ transitions between tricks; and the range of trick “families” performed during the run. So, its important to know how to do a lot of tricks well! I will talk through the tricks I know how to do and try to explain each one!

Fish

Fish Diagram

This is one of the first basic slalom tricks that you can learn. You approach with your feet together, bend your knees and twist your body so that your feet move to go around the outside of the cone. You then twist your body the opposite way to cross between that cone and the upcoming cone and repeat this movement down the line. When you are doing this trick properly, you get momentum from the “bobbing” action of twisting and bending your knees over and over. It’s all about them hips ! (and powerful legs pushing out) For this trick, it’s important to keep your feet parallel to each other.

Snake

Snake Diagram

This trick requires your feet to be inline with each other, with one foot infront of the other. I think the easiest way to do this trick is to lead direction with your front foot and sit with your weight more on your back foot. You use both your inside and outside edges of your skate to gain the momentum- again hip movement and slight ‘bop’ movement are important here (but once you get the feel of it, its a lot easier!). (I have also marked the diagram with red feet colours where the carve of your feet into the ground is important to maintain momentum! Blue is where the feet should be in a relatively straight line.)

Forward Cross

Forward Cross

This is probably the first trick that I managed to do well out of these first 3 fundamental tricks! The main idea I think of with this trick is that its an extended “lemon”. You approach the cones with feet together, open to a V position and “lemon” around the first cone, but then extend the lemon to produce a second lemon around the second cone (but with your left foot (red on diagram) on the right, and your right foot (blue on diagram) on the left). It’s important to have a slight offset of your feet during the “cross” movement so that they don’t collide, so pushing your feet into a slight scissor during the end of the “lemon” helps!

Basket Weave

Basket Weave

This trick is a step up of the forward cross, where your leading foot around each cone alternates to the other foot for every cone (instead of staying the same for the whole run of Forward Cross). Once again on the diagram here, the right foot is blue and the left foot is red. To achieve the Basket Weave trick, its easiest to practise Forward Cross runs with each foot being the leading foot. Make sure you are comfortable with each foot being a leading foot, and this Basket Weave trick should be a breeze! For transitioning between feet, I like to think about it as forcing the scissor to between each cone and push the new leading foot forwards and then eventually, the transition is normally quite smooth!

Now lets move onto the tricks that I’m working on! I can do them off cones, but not yet able to comfortably complete a full run around cones:

Heel-Toe

HeelToe

This has the same diagram as the Snake trick, however is done with your back foot balancing on the single ‘toe’ wheel and the front foot balancing on the single ‘heel’ wheel of each skate (indicated by the black dot). Getting into the heel-toe position whilst skating was quite easy which came as a surprise to me, however its the control of the direction which is the tricky part. The main tip I would give to get into the heel-toe position whilst skating in a straight line would be to just go for it. It isn’t as scary as it looks and once you do it and its easier to find the centre of balance again for further tries. I am still trying to master controlling the direction I want to move in whilst in this position, and then manoeuvring this position around cones proves a further challenge! Another tip for guiding direction would be to keep your thighs tightly together and strong, to avoid your legs spreading too wide (and you ending up in the splits position!) So once control is achieved with more practise, an update post will surely be made!

One Foot Slalom

One Foot

This is quite a challenging trick to do but it is a foundation for many other tricks that can be done later down the line. It is best to practise this trick with both feet so you are competent and a well balanced all rounded slalom skater. To start, practise skating for as long as possible on one foot in a straight line (this will improve much needed balance (and is also the start tip for t-stop braking!)). Once you are comfortable with doing this, the key part of this trick is using both the inside and outside edges of your skate. My very experienced slalom skater friend suggested to use more of the outside edge with this trick, and to have weight distributed more over the heel (to stop the toe dragging). Once again, carving into the ground with force is key to keep momentum and making sure you don’t roll to a stop! You also use your suspended leg as a kind of pendulum to shift your weight more towards one side than the other respective to which direction you are going, which helps with balance too! I will also post an updated post about the one foot skating trick once more practise has been done!

So there we have the slalom skating tricks I can currently do/ am currently practising! I hope that this list gets longer as I continue to learn more tricks, and will keep this blog updated with progress!

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Skating Down Steps (fail) + Tips

So after the burst of skating confidence during the jumping skating session (my last post!), my friend and I decided it would be a great idea to try to skate down some steps. We had seen it done by a lot of the advanced skaters at BladeSoc sessions and we had watched a few YouTube video tutorials, so why not? Here’s the video of my second attempt (failed both times):

I posted this video to my Facebook page too, to see what other fellow skaters thought about it. The feedback received was great and here are the main points the experienced skaters suggested:

  • Do more lemons (to strengthen leg muscles so they are able to hold the position on the landing rather than collapsing)
  • Do it backwards (it’s easier apparently, as you are leaning over your toes to give you more balance)
  • A little more speed required (skating stairs can’t be done slowly!)

Since then I have been practising lemons whenever I can to strengthen my leg muscles. With a normal lemon, you bend your knees on the push-out of legs and straighten legs with the pull-in of legs- however it was also recommended for extra strength building to do both parts of the lemon with straight legs. You definitely feel the burn doing it this way, so I recommend this technique too!

So this is my quick start post about skating down steps, and I will be sure to do a future update post when I am able to skate down the 2 steps (and any more that I can brave)!

Jumping on skates! (onto grass)

I was first introduced to jumping on skates two or three sessions after I first joined BladeSoc. For an hour or so of the 3 hour session, we had a jump stick which was a light wood cane which could be moved up and down the floor stands. At this time, I was too afraid to jump on skates and instead of jumping over the cane, spent the session jumping small hops stood still, and then progressed to moving at low speed. I then had a cane on the floor and tried to work up the confidence to jump over it at floor level, but never found the confidence back then. So after that session, I have been pretty scared to jump on skates and only jumped (hopped) on rare occasions.

HOWEVER! I recently visited Nottingham from my home town (Dudley) for a few weeks and one day out skating with a friend decided to practise jumping again. Compared to the first few sessions of BladeSoc, I think I have improved drastically and am now pretty confident with basic jumping up and down/ with little speed. The only thing is, I don’t think I can jump that high off the ground- so that skating session was dedicated to trying to jump high and then eventually jump up over a curb.

So a few minutes spend jumping around a car park later, I was confident enough to try jumping curb height (onto some grass). Even though this doesn’t seem like a big thing, it’s a good stepping stone to where I want to be (being able to jump over the jump stick at a BladeSoc session at a good height!).

I think I’ll mention here a tip about jumping too: be sure to keep your knees bent, and always land with your feet in a scissor position in order to be more stable. (There are obviously other techniques for jumping, like tucking your legs to the side for maximum height on higher jumps, but I’m not at that level yet! But those two points mentioned are the main ones you need to remember if you are going to attempt jumping- it’s not as scary once you do it a few times! Oh, and be sure to wear pads when first starting out).

Here is the video I recoded of jumping up onto the grass (unfortunately in really bad quality, sorry!):

Looking back at the video, I thought that was pretty high! The amazing thing is, I am pretty sure I could jump higher if I went for it, and over a longer distance. So the next step in the jumping progress, is to jump up onto a paved curb, over speed bumps, over drains, and anything else in the urban world that I can work towards jumping over (before testing all this progress on the BladeSoc Jump Stick!). I will definitely post another post of jumping progress when it comes to it!