How to Inline Skate Downhill for Beginners

Unless you’re from an extremely flat location, you’ll encounter hills of different shapes and sizes as you skate, at least some of the time. And hills can be terrifying if you’re new to rollerblading. So, is there a safe way to inline skate downhill for beginners?

Related: How to skate uphill on rollerblades

If you’ve never skated downhill before, this post is for you. Peter and Bujie, a pair of enthusiastic skaters who are also members of the Skating Magic team, will today show you how to rollerblade down hills without killing yourself.

A Video Tutorial on How to Rollerblade Downhill

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5 Tips for Inline Skating Downhill (for People New to Blading)

The five tips and downhill skating strategies will make you a more confident skater while helping you to actually roll your way down the slope to the bottom of the descent.

We’re not here to show you how to get there in record time. We’re here to reveal practical tips that promote personal safety while helping improve your skating.

1.Wear protective gear: Super Important

The number one thing to do when it comes to rollerblading downhill is to wear decent-quality protection. Wear a properly certified helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards.

knee pads for skating downhill
Kneecaps are precious, so protect them at all costs using decent knee pads. Credit:

Why? Because some of the worst mishaps that happen in blading take place when people are bombing hills.

Wrist guards

wear wrist guards like these ones when blading downhill
Good wrist guards can be a real wrist bone saver. Wear them. Image credit:

Elbow pads

an inline skater with elbow pads on
Elbow pads should fit snugly and comfortably, just like every other piece of protective skate gear. Credit:

In case you’re wondering, the helmet I’m wearing is meant for biking, but you sure can use it for blading. It’s certified to the CPSC 1203 bike safety standards.

certified helmet for skating
This is a bike-certified helmet, but you can use it for skating. If you take a bad spill, replace it. Note: it doesn’t offer as much back-of-the-head coverage as a skate-specific helmet does, though. Image credit:

If you look at this helmet closely, you’d notice that it doesn’t go as low on the back of the head as skate-specific helmets do.

But it’s certified and I believe it would protect me. I hope I will not find out if it actually is as good as the certification suggests today. A dual-certified skate helmet comes highly recommended, too, as is one built to the ASTM F1492 skate safety standard.

2. Start With Small Hills

Skates, especially those with bigger wheels such as 100mm or 110mm wheels pick speed pretty fast on all kinds of terrain, but when rolling downhill, the speed can build up extremely fast.

You suddenly lose control and start freaking out, and that’s when the worst happens. I crashed about 2 months ago descending this hill, and it wasn’t pretty. I dived and held onto a shrub and that saved the day. Once you get used to going down a small hill, you can find a slightly steeper one and repeat the process.

As you continue practicing, your fear of fast speeds and steep slopes will lessen substantially. I have mad respect for people like Bujie. I’ve seen him bombing really steep hills and I’m like, ain’t he afraid of death?

3. Try Not to Bomb Hills Alone

Anything can happen when you’re flying down a steep hill. If you’re riding with a skater or two, you know you have someone to look out for you and take care of you should things go south for you.

I prefer skating with people who are way better than me, and Bujue here has been a great help for me. To help me build some confidence around downhill rollerblading, Bujie tells me to stretch my arms out forward and keep the fingers spread out.

If I begin to feel like I’m losing control, the dude is always in front of me skating backwards and ready to stop me with his arms.

 when rollerblading downhill don't skate alone
Skating with someone better than you is recommended when rollerblading downhill. Image credit:

This is unconventional, but it works for us. Note: the person doing it should be an expert, and they should be strong enough. Plus it’s not a permanent solution for going downhill as a new skater.

4. Find Ways to Control Speed When Skating Downhill

If you’re a beginner or intermediate level skater, chances are you haven’t mastered stopping at high speeds, especially when going downhill. You probably have gotten down the easy-to-do plow stop and can stop with the heel brake.

Unfortunately, neither of these two methods is great for controlling fast speeds. You need to learn better stopping techniques, specifically the T-stop, the powerstop, the soul slide, and the powerslide stop. But these aren’t easy for beginners, and it may take quite a while before you master them. Here’s a video we did recently on 5 ways to stop on inline skates.

Related: How to stop on inline skates

Here’s how I control speed when going downhill. I started skating a few months ago if that helps put things into perspective. I use swizzles or snake my way down the slope, and when things start getting out of hand, I do a quick turn and end up facing uphill.

if you can apply less energy when your toes are rolling out, you can use swizzles for speed control
This is Peter using swizzles to control speed while downhill inline skating. Image credit:

The trouble with swizzles is that if you put too much energy when the skate is rolling outward, you’ll build up speed pretty quickly. If the speed becomes too much to handle, do a quick safe turn with the foot you’re more comfortable with and you’ll be fine.

When snaking down this hill, I try to make large S-shaped trajectories as I roll down while also doing little slides. Doing this helps slow me down substantially.

The techniques I use going downhill may not be what everyone uses, but they work for me. Look, this is the bottom of the hill. I’m more concerned about my safety than conquering the hill haha. That said, I’ll finetune my stopping technique until I no longer have to use these little tricks to get to the bottom of the descent.

5. Practice Relentlessly

No one becomes excellent at anything without putting in a decent amount of effort. So keep rolling down hills and sooner than later, you’ll get there.

9 Mistakes to Avoid When Inline Skating Downhill

1.Skating downhill when you’ve not learned how to stop without using the brake.

2. Trying to compete with veterans; learn at your own pace and enjoy the thrill.

3. Skating without protective gear. Downhill crashes occur, and they’re the kind likely to cause severe head injuries.

4. Skating alone.

5. Going too fast.

6. Skating steep hills.

7 Not tightening wheel axle nuts before skating.

8. Avoid jumps

9. Don’t skate backwards.

Downhill Inline Skating Tips for Beginners

Skating downhill is a dangerous activity and it’s easy to lose control and crash. Be sure to put on protective gear before you start the descent. And try not to skate solo or take on the biggest hills around.

Also, find practical ways to slow down speed such as swizzles and making S-shaped curves as you go down the slope. And if you can get an experienced skater to show you the ropes while providing you with any support you may need, that’d be even better.