Episode 14 - Ask Dad

Ask Dad – Balancing Exercises, Helping a Child Skate & Picking Skates for Stability – 014

More of Your Roller Skating Questions Answered

On this week’s episode, I answer more of your Ask Dad questions! Anyone can submit a question simply by going to Ask Dad in the main menu of the website. Fill in a few fields, and your question is sent to me.

In today’s episode, I cover:

  • Helping a listener who is coming back to skating after 30 years find the best wheels & skates for stability.
  • Helping a mom teach her small child how to roller skate for the first time.
  • And, finally, helping a listener with exercises and practice tips for building up the skill of balance.

Show Notes

Here are links to the items I discussed during the show.

 

Episode 14 Transcript

Jeff [0:03]: Hey, everybody, welcome to the Roller Skate Dad Podcast, This is episode number 14. Let’s get started.

Jeff [0:17]: Welcome to the Roller Skate Dad Podcast. The show that covers everything and anything in the wonderful world of roller skating. Now, here’s your host, The Roller Skate Dad himself, Jeff Stone.

Jeff [0:37]: Hey, everybody, welcome to the Roller Skate Dad Podcast. I want to thank you guys so much for being here. In today’s episode, I’m going to be answering more of your Ask Dad questions that you guys have sent into me from the website. So you’re going to definitely want to check this out. Today we’re going to be talking about how to pick out the right kinds of roller skate wheels, as well as, helping children learn how to skate. And, also how we can go about maybe giving ourselves a little bit better balance as we’re trying to get back into skating if we’ve been away from it for awhile. So that’s what today’s episode is going to be all about.

Jeff [1:15]: So I don’t think we need much of an intro. Let’s get started.

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Jeff [1:19]: Our first question comes from Judy in Reading, Pennsylvania. Judy writes, “I roller skated in the past, but not in the last thirty years. I have roller derby skates and they need wheels and breaks. I’m going to be 74 years old in March, so I’m not looking for speed. I’m just looking for confidence. I now use a helper made out of PVC piping for support. These are called skate mates. But I’m confused as to the softness of the wheel that I’ll need for skating in a roller rink. Also, the kind of center or the hub for the wheel is also confusing me. Do I need an aluminum core, a hollow core or a nylon core? Please help me decide what I need. Thanks, Judy.

Jeff [2:05]: First. Judy, I just want to say I’m so happy to hear that you’re getting back to roller skating after being away from it for so long. That’s awesome. You know, I sure hope that when I’m 74 I’m skating. And, I just really want to applaud you for getting out there and trying your best to keep going and keep doing this great hobby and this great sport. We need more people like you getting back to skating. And so if you want a really smooth ride and you don’t care about speed, then I would go with a wider, softer wheel. That’s going to give you the most stability, and it’ll give you the most grip on whatever surface that you’re skating on.

Jeff [2:43]: A soft wheel would be something with a durometer rating below 90A. So when you look on wheels online, um, like on any kind of roller skating website, you’ll either see it listed as durometer, or you’ll see it listed as hardness, and they will almost always be measured with a number and then the letter A after it. So anything that is in the 90A or less range somewhere between let’s say 78A and 90A. I’d consider that a soft wheel, and that’s going to help with stability. A softer wheel actually digs into whatever surface that you’re skating on more easily as your weight pushes down into the wheel, and that actually is going to make you go a little bit slower. But it’s also going to give you more stability. It’s also going to stick better to any kind of surface that you’re skating on. So, if you’re on a more slippery surface, it will actually stick better than a much harder wheel will.

Jeff [3:46]: I personally like to glide, and I like to slide a lot, so I use a much harder wheel. But when I’m outdoors, I like a softer wheel, and that’s just so that when I go over debris or I may hit a small rock, I don’t face plant. It, you know, just kind of makes it easier to go over that debris with that softer wheel. It also, when you’re outdoors and you’re skating on something like asphalt, the softer wheel actually doesn’t jiggle your body so much as well. When you’re on a rough surface, a really hard wheel, you can feel it. It shakes your bones. It shakes your legs and your feet a whole lot. So having a softer wheel can help with that. You’re also gonna want to look to try to get a wider wheel as well. So this is going to be anything that is 59mm or wider, preferably wider if you can get it. The wider the wheel again, the more stability that you’re going to have. Which it sounds like, is what you’re really after. So softer wheel and a wider width wheel. Almost every roller skating site out there that sells wheels will have the width of the wheel on them. And so just check out the width and try to make sure that whatever wheel you buy is larger than 59mm. You know, the larger you can get, the better.

Jeff [5:06]: So some particular product recommendations, you know, just to try to help you out. You might want to look at Atom Wheels. That’s A-T-O-M. You know, you might want to look at the Atom Savant wheels. They’re a roller derby wheel, but they’re on the softer side. They have an 88A durometer wheel, and they’re also 59mm wide. These 88A are actually the pink wheel. Atom actually makes like five different kinds for the Atom Savant wheel, and each color signifies a different hardness. So the pink wheel is the 88A, and it’s actually the softest one they make. And I’ve heard some pretty good things about that wheel. I’ve used a lot of other Atom wheels in the past, and they make a pretty good wheel, so I would check that one out. As far as the wheel core is concerned, there are three different cores. There’s a nylon core, there’s a hollow core, and there’s an aluminum core. If you want to learn more about roller skate wheels than I highly recommend that you listen to Episode 2 of this podcast, where I cover roller skate wheels in depth. We talk about all the different tips that you need to really look at when you’re thinking about buying a pair or a set of roller skate wheels. And one of the things we cover is cores. The different cores that are out there, and which one’s best. Thanks, Judy, for your question. I appreciate it.

Jeff [6:33]: Our next question comes from Stef in Huddersfield, England. Stef writes, “Hello, My daughter is three and is doing OK skating with the clip over shoe plastic things. I’ve just bought her some SFX adjustable skates, and she’s having a bit of difficulty as they roll a lot faster than she’s used to. What’s the best way to teach her to stop and move? Love the podcast. Thanks, Stef.

Jeff [6:59]: Thanks, Stef, for reaching out to me and for your question. I appreciate it. You know, I’m so glad that I have listeners in England. That’s so cool. If you haven’t already, go listen to Episode 4 of the podcast. It’s all about teaching others how to roller skate. In that particular episode, I cover my top five tips for teaching someone how to skate, and it’s perfect for teaching young kids how to skate for the first time.

Jeff [7:24]: And I just want to say, wow, you know, you’re awesome for starting your kid out so young with skating. You know, that’s just great. You know, at three years old, I would just focus as much as possible on making skating fun. The more fun your kiddo has skating, the longer she’s likely to stick with it, and the more that she’s going to enjoy it, too. You know, another recommendation I’d make is get yourself a pair of skates. I honestly believe that my kids skate still and like doing it because I did it with them. It was something that we had a bond together, both me and my daughters, and one of the things that we always had was skating on the weekends. And so I highly recommend parents to learn how to skate themselves. Don’t just put your kids out there on skates, you know. Get your own and actually get out there and have fun with them, and that really helps them. And it will help you kind of bond with your kid, too. It’s one more thing that you can do. Plus, skating is usually pretty cheap to do. Especially if you can skate outdoors most of the year. So I highly recommend both of you get your own skates and do it together.

Jeff [8:30]: So I’m not real sure if those clip on skates that you have, if you can actually tighten the wheels or not. But if you can, you should get a wrench. You know, like the PowerDyne Y tool that I’ve mentioned in previous podcasts. And use that to actually tighten the wheels so they don’t roll as much. You can either do that or let’s say the wheels don’t tighten. Because on some of those adjustable skates they don’t. You can’t actually tighten the wheels at all. In that case, what I’d do is have her actually practice on the carpet. You know, try to find nice carpet. This can’t be like the thick carpet that, you know, the carpet could actually get tangled in the wheels but a nice kind of flat carpet. And have her practice rolling around on that. That will actually help control the speed. So, best of luck teaching your daughter how to skate. You know, that’s so awesome. Thanks for your question. I appreciate it, Stef.

Jeff [9:23]: Our last question for this episode comes from Oscar in Washington, D. C. Oscar writes, “I’m learning how to find my balance, whether it be on the front or my rear wheels, so I’d like to have tips, hints, exercises, proper practice techniques on how I could actually maintain my balance. I’m still not interested in competing, but just in skating smoothly. Thanks for your question, Oscar. You know, as far as exercises go for balance, I personally have recently taken up yoga. You know, I just started about a year ago, and it’s really helped me with both strength as well as balance. I actually thought I used to have pretty good balance until I started doing yoga and then I realized I actually don’t have very good balance or I’ve lost it as I’ve gotten older. So I personally follow a girl on YouTube named Adriene. Her show is called Yoga with Adriene, and it’s free. You know, she does 20 to 30 minute yoga episodes every week, and she has hundreds of them on YouTube. So, you’re never going to run out. And they’ve really helped me gain and maintain my balance as I’m getting older. I honestly believe the real key is flexibility, along with leg and ankle strength, and yoga’s helped me, you know, with that. It’s helped provide that to me.

Jeff [10:47]: So I also attend speed skate practice with the team here in Austin, irregularly. I try to go at least once a week, but some weeks are….I can’t make it out there, so it’s just it’s kind of off and on. I recommend that you just try to get as much practice in as you possibly can. But one of the things that I did want to share with all of you today is some of the different drills that we do during speed skate practice that I actually think will help you with your balance. Because a lot of speed skating, as well as artistic skating and jam skating and even roller derby and hockey, it really comes down to how good are we with our balance. Especially as we progress in the sports and we go deeper and deeper and we try to do new maneuvers or we’re trying to do new skill, balance becomes an extremely important piece of your overall base. So to help you out, let me give you a few of the things that we do during speed skating practice that I think will help you if you’re struggling with balance. Or, if you just want to get better at it.

Jeff [11:51]: I do a lot of these even when I just go for session skating just to kind of help build up my balance. So the first one is skating on one foot. So, what you do is you skate down one straightaway on your left foot, then do crossovers on the corners, and then when you’re skating down the other straightaway, stand on your right foot and lift your left foot up. So alternating practice on standing on your left leg and then standing on your right leg and being able to hold that all the way down a straightaway is great. And if you can already do that, great, then get up some speed, stand on your left foot and try to do three laps around the rink without putting your foot down, right. You can slowly kind of build up your ability to balance on one foot if you keep trying to do it every time you go out there and skate. I just mentioned it in the first step, but you know another thing to make sure that you’re practicing are make sure you’re practicing crossovers. You know, crossing your right foot over your left when you’re going around corners. And if you can already do that, then practice crossing your left foot over. your right on the straightaways. You know, a lot of times everybody goes in a counter clockwise fashion around the roller skating rink. At my rink, sometimes they do an opposite skate or a reverse skate where we go clockwise instead. That’s a great time to actually practice doing left over right crossovers.

Jeff [13:16]: However, if you’re rink doesn’t do that, you can still practice crossing your left foot over your right. Just practice it when you’re going down straightaways. So one of the things that I do every time I skate is I will on straightaways cross my right foot over my left, put my right foot down, pick my left foot up cross my left foot over my right and just alternate crossing all the way down the straightaway. And it’s a great way to kind of practice that. Because a lot of us who can do crossovers, we do really well when we’re crossing our right foot over our left because that’s the way we normally go counterclockwise around the rink. But some of us aren’t always that great at doing the left over the right. I know me personally, I’m okay at it, but it doesn’t feel as natural. And so practicing that makes sure that you keep that skill.

Jeff [14:01]: And so crossovers are all about balance. You have to be able to balance on one foot in order to be able to do a crossover effectively. You know, another drill that we do during speed skate practices, we do a cross and hold. So this is where you take your right foot. You cross it over your left, and then you hold that all the way around the corner. Then you skate the straightaways just like you normally would. And then you do the same thing every time you go around a corner. This helps to ensure that you actually have the crossover properly. You’re actually crossing the foot all the way over the left foot, and it’s not on top of it or in front of it, or just kind of to the side. It’s all the way almost parallel with the other foot with your left foot.

Jeff [14:47]: So that also helps with balance quite a bit. Another one that we do is we do a cross and hold, but only on one foot. So you skate the straightaways just like you normally would. Then, on the first corner, you stand on your left leg with your right foot stuck out to the side at about a thirty degree angle lifted up off the floor.

Jeff [15:07]: Then on the other corner, you cross your right foot over your left and you pick your left foot up, but you leave it behind you but lifted up off the floor. So this allows you to kind of accentuate the actual crossover movement and its you holding the position as you do the crosses. This also helps with balance. One of the most important things to do to really help build up balance is you also need to build up leg strength. And one of the best ways to build up leg strength while you’re skating is to do squats.

Jeff [15:40]: Yeah, squats, they suck. But it’s great. They’re perfect for building up, you know, all of the muscles in your legs. So what you do is you get going up and get get a pretty good speed going. And then on the corners, you do regular crossovers. And then on the straightaways, you squat down like you’re going to sit in a chair and you hold that until you get to the corners. And then when you get to the corners you can do crossovers again. This one really helps to build up leg strength.

Jeff [16:09]: There’s a variation to this called timed squats. And we do these timed squats during speed skate practices as well. And you can do them during session. They’re super easy to do. You can use your mobile phone or a stopwatch to do timed squats. So what you need to do is skate around the rink floor and pick up some speed, and then next start your stopwatch and squat down and hold it for fifteen seconds. Then after that, fifteen seconds is up, stand up and skate normally for fifteen seconds. Now what you’re gonna do is you’re going to increment that squat time by fifteen seconds each time. So on the next time around, squat down for thirty seconds. Then after thirty seconds of you squatting and holding, stand up and skate it out for fifteen seconds. Then, on the next interval, squat down for 45 seconds and then, after you’ve done that, 45 seconds, skate it out for fifteen seconds. Then, squat down for a minute and hold it and then go skate for fifteen seconds.

Jeff [17:12]: That last one’s really hard. Trying to sit in a squat for a minute. Just try it. It’s It’s pretty difficult, and you’re probably gonna want to curse. And I know I certainly do when they make us hold it for that long. But it’s a great way to build up leg strength, and that extra leg strength is going to help with balance. Next, just like the first tip where we were talking about skating on one foot going forwards, another great thing to do is skate on one foot going backwards. So this is just like the skating on one foot that I mentioned at the beginning, except you’re going backwards now. So, lift up your right foot, skate on your left foot all the way down, one straight away. When you get to the next straightaway, lift up your left foot and skate on your right foot for the entire straightaway. This ability to skate backwards on one foot will really help you with your balance. And it also helps you to be able to learn how to maneuver and get around people when you may have a crash coming where you might be like running into someone, right? That’s the main reason why I constantly practice my balance is to try to avoid, you know, crashes and running into people – they’re defense mechanisms.

Jeff [18:25]: Next, you should practice two footed turns. You know, practicing this is where you’re basically skating forward. You’re then going to stand on your right foot and you’re going to turn your body 45 degrees to the side and turn your left foot the opposite way. And then you’re going to be basically turning around until you’re going backwards and you’re rolling on two feet. And if you can’t do this rolling than practice it stopped or practice it at a really slow pace. And then each time you know, make it go a little bit faster. See how many two footed turns you can do in succession down the floor. I like to do this a lot when I’m skating in session where I’ll skate down the straightaway and I’ll try to see Can I do three? Can I do four? Can I do five two footed turns? And so what I’m going to be doing is I’m going to be turning backwards and then I turn forwards, and then I turn backwards and then I turn forward. And I just keep repeating that over and over again. It can actually make you a little bit dizzy, but it’s great for balance. And again, it’s also great for learning another maneuver for being able to get around somebody or jump out of the way if somebody is about to crash into you.

Jeff [19:34]: And once you get good at doing a two footed turn going in one direction, switch it up and try doing the two footed turn going the other direction. So that would be where you’re standing on your left leg and you’re turning your right foot to the side and turning around from left to right as opposed to right to left.

Jeff [19:54]: And so a lot of people who are good at turning, maybe right to left, can’t turn left to right very easily. Or people who can turn well left to right can’t turn right to left easily. So practicing it both ways can actually help build up balance and awareness and agility out on the skate floor. Next, one footed turns. So let’s say you’ve got the two footed turns nailed and you’re really good at those. I now want you to go out and practice being able to turn on one foot. So this is just standing on your right foot and sliding your foot to the right or to the left until you’re going backwards. And then as you’re going backwards, being able to turn that foot left or right to go forward. And so that is actually possible. You know, for those of you out there who are like, “you can’t do one footed turns. Yes, you can. I’m sure you can find somebody at your rink that knows how to do that. And if you could do one great, let’s see how many you can actually do in succession. And if you get it working well on, let’s say you’re right foot, then switch to the left foot. You can also practice doing left and right footed, one footed turns going to your left and going to your right.

Jeff [21:08]: Both take a bit of practice to be able to really master that. Lastly, we have jumping and spinning. I think spinning is great. I love doing it every time I go to a session. I’m usually one of those people in the back or in the middle doing some two footed spins. Occasionally, I’ll try to do a one footed spin. These are great for balance. These are really advanced ways to try to increase your balance because it’s hard to stand upright when you’re trying to spin. And jumping is also another great one as well. So some of the things that you can do if you’ve kind of progressed through all of these tips that I’ve been giving you, and your on to the jumping and spinning part but maybe you haven’t quite gotten there yet. The first thing you can do is just as you’re rolling down a straightaway on two feet, jump in the air and try to land backwards. That’s just a half a revolution, right? And try to do that on two feet, and then if you can do that as you’re going backwards, jump up and then try to land forward, and that is another half revolution. And try to see that if you can land that and practice that over and over again until you actually can do that easily without falling down.

Jeff [22:20]: And then once you have that down, then you can try it one footed. This is where you stand on your left foot, jump in the air, land on your right foot going backwards. Or jump in the air off your right foot and land on your left foot going backwards. And then, if you want to get even more advanced than that, that’s when you really get into artistic skating. Artistic skating has single revolution jumps and double revolution jumps. These are revolution being how many times in the air you turn before you land. So we’ll spend more time on that in a future podcast episode with a very gifted artistic skater. But for this particular episode, we were talking mostly about balance and about how we get more competent on our skates. And so these were just some tips to help you be able to practice things when you’re at the rink so you can increase your balance and your confidence. I hope it helped.

Jeff [23:14]: Whoa. That was a lot, especially that last one. I’m sure I’m going to think of some more things that you could do and that I do to try to practice my balance. And you know my posture and my agility on the floor. But that’s everything that’s in my brain right now that I can think of. So if you have any other practice ideas on how to achieve better balance or how to achieve better agility on the skate floor, be sure to send it to me. You can hit me up over at the show notes. You can get to the show notes for this episode by going to RollerSkateDad.com/14. If you’ve been listening to the Roller Skate Dad podcast, you know, here at the end, I always ask you for a rating and a review on your favorite podcasting platform. Downloads, ratings and reviews are how podcasts get ranked on many of the platforms. So, if you’d like to help the Roller Skate Dad Podcast out, I’d really appreciate a rating and a review wherever you listen. And, thank you.

Jeff [24:16]: If you’re not a member of the Roller Skate Dad Club, you’re going to want to join. Sign up is fast and easy. All it takes is your name and your email address and you’re in. The Roller Skate Dad Club is a great way to stay in touch with me, stay up to date on what’s going on with the show as well as the RollerSkateDad.com website. Plus, you get easy access into every monthly contest where I give away free roller skating gear. Head on over to RollerSkateDad.com to join the Skate Club today.

Jeff [24:46]: All right, everybody, that’s another episode in the books. I want to thank you guys so much for being here. And until next week, get on out there and skate.

Jeff [24:56]: Thank you for listening to the Roller Skate Dad Podcast at www.rollerskatedad.com.

Jeff [25:02]: If you liked what you heard today, please be sure to subscribe, rate and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google or wherever you’re listening.

Wrapping Up

Thanks again for rollin’ by. If you have a question about the podcast or just want to leave me a note, please comment below.

I hope you will join me every week for a new episode of The Roller Skate Dad podcast.

Please subscribe to the podcast on whichever podcasting platform you listen on. And, don’t forget to join the Roller Skate Dad Club. You can do that easily with just your first name and email address from any page on this website.

Did you like what you heard? Do you want to hear more? Check out these additional episodes:

Until the next episode, get on out there and skate!

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