Category Archives: Technique

Finding my feet: an off-skate brain trainer to help the uncoordinated

I don’t have great coordination in general, and often feel like “I don’t know what my feet are doing.” I also know, from the footage I have taken of my skate practice, that my feet are not quite symmetrical in my “pizza slice” when I am skating. I also know, from when I have tried to learn to do crossovers, that I struggle to get my feet pointing in the same direction too, which is the main cause of my tripping over myself!

While I am off skates with my Achilles injury, I have found a good way of working on both these issues.

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The idea is to get someone, my lovely fella in this case, to move one of my feet and for me to move the other to match it.

There are four exercises, one is to mirror, so you move your other foot to it’s symmetrically placed. The other is to move in parallel, so both feet point the same way. Mirroring is great for improving pizza slice and speed, and parallel is great for crossovers. Both mirroring and parallel can be done where one foot is moved, then the other is matched after, or so you try and follow the moments in real time.

My theory, based on some of the stuff I learned in neuro-science class at uni and a little intuition, is that this activity will really help me once I get back on skates.

It’s about strengthening and working out the pathways between my feet, solar plexus and bran, exercising and building more neural pathways for motor control of my feet in my brain too. It’s a workout, just like pumping iron, only I get to do it lying down.

Right now I am trying with my eyes closed, so I can see what my natural baseline is. I am going to try lots of different variations over the next few weeks to see what helps me improve the most.  I will keep you posted!


My pie is poor

My asymmetrical pie slice

When learning to skate, learning to point your toes out so your feet form a pie slice (or pizza slice) shape is important.

If the toes point forwards (rather than out) the tenancy is to “walk” on skates, which is a recipe for slipping around and falling over. It also burns energy and doesn’t give you any real speed.

While I know how important this is, I have found it quite hard to learn. The video below shows me that I have made some real progress from when I started out though: there is a little outwards point most of the time on both feet.

However, my feet are often pointing asymmetrically, and not consistently either, so sometimes the left points more than the right, and sometimes the right more than the left. Sometimes both are pointing almost forwards again too.

I think this is one of the reasons I feel unstable on skates and sometimes feel my feet slip from under me.

Also, even when I feel like my feet are pointing “really out” they are actually not pointing out much.

I have been busy thinking up some ways to address this while I am off-skates. I will let you know what I find!

Knee Over Toe: the benefit of recording your practices

I have been off skates for two weeks now with an Achilles problem, but the footage my little brother took of my last practice has given me loads of stuff to work on in the mean time.

Here is an example of a small and achievable correction I have found I need to make, by looking to the footage during my downtime.

Worship Derby on bended knee

In skating, especially Derby skating, it’s important to keep your knees bent. For basic skating it stops you falling on your arse if you lose your balance. In Derby freshmeat you get taught about Derby-stance, which takes the knee bend to a whole new level of … thigh burning anguish.

For now, I am just working on basic knee bend, as I know full on derby stance is going to take me some time to reach.

Basics for beginners – knee bend is vital

In Skatefresh, Asha Kirkby says:

“If I had to pick just two of the causes of most beginners’ skating  problems they would be lack of sufficient and correct knee bend and too slow a cadence. There are other problems but these two are the bane of any instructor’s life. If you fix these two, everything else will  fix itself. ”

Here is what a good knee bend looks like according to Asha


I knees to the truth… am I bent enough?

I think, when I am doing my skating practice, that my knees are over my toes. It feels like they are! Let’s see if they really are… here is me in action:


Bearing in mind my bulky knee pads add a fair few inches onto my knee, I can see my knees are not quite over my toes yet.

Now I know what to practice and correct!

Learning even when off skates

This big stock of footage, taken on just one day, has given me loads to work on while I am off skates injured.

Try and get some footage sometime, even if it just sits around on your hard drive for ages, if you are ever injured it might just be the thing that keeps you motivated and sane.




Over-pronation situation

In my first recording session, with the help of my awesome little brother on camera, I have discovered a I have a problem called “Pronation” or “Over-pronation“. This where the feat roll in more than they should during walking/running/skating.


Over-pronation is probably fairly common, but I want to get off on the right foot… or more specifically the right part of the foot… so I am going to try and resolve this problem asap!

What Over-pronation looks like

In her book “Teach Someone to Roller Skate – Even Yourself!” (which is very good value guide) the author Marty Donnellan has some good advise about foot problems.

One helpful diagram shows Pronation in skates from behind: you can see the feet leaning inwards, so the weight is not central over the wheels.


Another diagram shows the prorating ankles without skates.


My pronation problem

In this slowed down video of me skating away from the camera, you can see my feet prorate a lot.

How over-pronation affects my skating

Over-pronation may help to explain a few issues I have had while learning to skate so far.

The main issue I can pinpoint was with sticky skating. When I try and do my lemon-shaped sticky skate I loose momentum. Even if I start off with some momentum then start to sticky skate, I slowly come to a stop over 2/3 lemons.

I think this is partly because the rolling in of my feat means I am leaning into my inside edges of my skates all the time. This explains why I lose momentum when trying to sticky skate: leaning on the inside edge has an effect like a plough stop, cutting my speed every time I bring my feet together.

The effect can be seen most keenly in my sticky skating, however, I assume the inside-edge weighting would cause a range of issues. It’s certainly not going to help anyway!

How over-pronation affects my feet and my motivation

Since I started skating I have developed severe pain in my right Achilles and plantar fasciitis symptoms in both feet – I am waiting for a podiatry appointment to get this looked at. The problem isn’t so much the pain itself, thought that’s obviously not fun, but the slow chipping away at my motivation has come with it. I need to get it sorted then!

Possible solutions

Here is a list of actions I am taking to try and resolve my over-pronation problem. Any suggestions you have are welcome!

  1. Talking to my doctor – Including showing them a picture of the over pronation in action on skates
  2. Arch support insoles – I bought some from my local sports shop
  3. Foot strengthening exercises – there are some suggestions on-line, but I will check with my doctor first.
  4. Keep checking the issue – I will keep checking on this every time I practice to see if it has improved!