Update 2005: Rollerblade's ABT and ABT Lite braking system is still a great way to get instant gratification with stopping skills because it's much easier to learn for new, less balanced beginners. -- Liz
Braking with the ABT in 1994
New skaters are happy with the ABT braking system that is installed on some 1994 models of Rollerblade brand skates. On a borrowed pair of Coolblades early this spring, I was able to test the ABT brake for a few hours, and found it quite effective for stopping.
In this column, I'll share with you a good way to teach new skaters how to use Rollerblade's Active Brake Technology, so you, too, can help friends learn to use their ABT brakes.
I teach ABT braking in three steps, on a short, gentle slope with a flat run-out or a patch of grass at the bottom. Before starting, lower the brake until it almost drags during forward glides.
- Roll down the slope a few times with the brake skate advanced 2-3 inches ahead of the other foot, keeping all wheels on the pavement. Don't try to brake, just practice the position. If it's available, step onto the grass to stop.
- Now roll down the slope, still in the one-foot-ahead position, and try to point the toe in the brake boot. The foot is extended so that it feels similar to the pointed toe position used by ballerinas or divers. As the toe is pointed and pushed forward, the back of the calf presses the brake into the pavement.
- To reinforce the new skill, practice a few complete stops every 5-7 feet down the slope. Finally, retract the ABT brake so that it doesn't get in the way of normal skating.
This teaching technique worked well for my novice students. I hope it helps you get your friends safely onto some of your favorite slopes.