Now I've been skating for a couple of months and slowly found my balance and acquired some strength in my skating legs. I can stay upright skating forwards, and just as importantly, I can stop.
Skating backwards, that's what!
If you're a beginner, skating indoors is great. Think safety. Think comfort. Think protection. The carpet slows your wheels, you don't move too fast, and if you fall, it cushions ya and offers some protection. The sideboard allows ya to grab for support, and nobody will watch if you embarrass yourself.
In the living room along one wall we have one of those hideous 1970's teak sideboard cabinets. Its damned ugly, but has its uses. When I started skating, everyday I used that sideboard to provide support for my unsteady legs.
Now its time to skate backwards. I practice indoors on the carpet. Each day I fall. I use K2 wrist guards, to protect fragile wrist bones. I traversed that living room floor till I could stay upright while I learned backwards skating. Next stop, the park.
If it wasn't raining and my legs could take another pounding without needing a day to recover, I was down the park, early morning before work. There are two outside basketball courts side-by-side, which provide the perfect skating space.
I start with 10 mins of soft easy skating circuits to warm up. Get blood flowing and work up a gentle sweat. I go through a series of drills, that I feel I need to work on, such as: drag-stop, spin-stop or hockey-stop. I practice spins, turns, step-overs and slides. Slides are so much fun, but they wear-out urethane wheels so quickly.
Last week, was the first time I practiced backward skating outside. The basketball court has lines marking the edge of the arena. I use the lines as a guide as I tentatively start skating in a backwards direction. I straddle the lines. They help provide direction and location. Concentrating on balance and staying upright, your attention is not on the direction you're travelling.
When ya skate backwards for the first few times, say hello to pain from new muscle group combinations. You have not used those muscles before in this mode. Welcome to the pain and discomfort. After 10 - 15 minutes going backwards, those muscles refused to work. As I noted before, you tend to fall and injure when you're tired and fatigued, at the end of a skating session.
I fell a couple of times skating backwards, but it was not a balance issue. Small twigs, stones, pebbles, cigarette butts, leaves and other debris scattered across the basketball arena were the cause. Each time I tumble, I locate the offending stone or twig and hurl it off court, to bring me down no more. Skating forward you hit similar small obstructions, but leg strength, balance and momentum, don't cause a fall, you skate through and adjust your position.
A few days later, I returned to the park, skating backwards again. Sore leg muscles, and a degree of satisfaction, as I circled both courts a few times in reverse, at a slow speed. I class this as progress. Once again, stones and twigs, helped gravity pull me to earth. The park attendants need to clean up the area and clear offending debris. They won't.
I start practicing forward-to-backward transition. Its shaky, but ya start somewhere and progress from there. When I'm comfortable, I'll start work on the backward-to-forward transition, though its probably a few weeks away. I still have so much to work on.
I love skating. Its so much fun.