Everyone has experienced that frustration when trying to learn a new skill. No matter how much you practice, you simply don’t understand why it isn’t working.

When it comes to this stage, it helps to take a step back and engage your brain rather than your feet.

If you’re constantly struggling with a certain skill, it could be that you are skipping an important step, or have misunderstood some small detail. Until you’re able to identify and address the missing piece, you’ll continue to struggle, and could even be reinforcing bad habits.

1) Understand what you need to do

Before trying a skill, you must understand what you are aiming for.

To start off, watch a teammate, tutorial, or derby footage. Take note of how the skater is using their body throughout the entire movement.

For example, in a T-stop the skater:

  1.    Lifts one foot off the floor
  2.    Positions the foot at the back, perpendicular to the standing leg
  3.    Touches back foot down, dragging all four wheels on the floor at once
  4.    Applies pressure onto back foot

Now once you know the different stages of a technique…

2) Try it out

Based on your observations, attempt to recreate the move yourself. Take it steady and make sure you are going through every one of the motions you identified in step 1 – no matter how trivial they may seem.

3) Analyse

Next step is to take a closer look at your attempt – What worked well? What didn’t work as well? Why?

It may be difficult to pinpoint what exactly you’re doing at first. But by trying out a move again and again, you will begin to become cognizant of your body’s motion, taking into account:

  •     Where your centre of gravity is
  •     The edges and parts of the skate you are using
  •     The sequence of actions and sense of timing

If you find it tough to interpret your movements by feel, you can film yourself, or ask someone experienced to watch you and report back.

4) Adjust

Once you have an understanding of your own actions, you can begin to compare this against the list you made in step 1. What are the components of a successful maneouver? What were you doing? Any discrepancies?

Ask yourself:

  • Did I feel off-balance at a specific stage?
  • Was I able to emulate the correct positions?

Then recycle back to stage 2, paying special attention to the areas you didn’t quite nail.

By continually analysing and adjusting, you can efficiently recognise and tackle problem areas, and avoid getting ‘stuck’ and frustrated.

Once you have unlocked an awareness of what you need to work on, your practice will be more efficient, and you’ll nail your skills in no time flat.