Everybody knows whether they are right- or left-handed. But do you know which foot you favor? If you are a beginning skater, it’s very important to figure this out as soon as possible, because it is closely tied to how fast you are able learn to control your speed, stop and turn.
How to tellWhich foot would you use to do the following?
- Kick a soccer ball
- Step into a pair of shorts
- Catch yourself if shoved from behind
- Start climbing a ladder
Your answers should be the same for all four items. If not, you probably don’t need to read any further, because you are ambidextrous, favoring neither foot over the other. Lucky you!
You may not realize it, but all your life, you have had one foot primarily devoted to action (the one you identified in the list above), and the other devoted mostly to balancing your body weight during that action.
Typically—but not always—right-handed people have better strength and stability when balancing on their left foot. They use the right foot as their action foot, so they are right-footed. The opposite is true for left-handed people who are usually—but not always—left-footed as well.
This not only determines which skate should have the heel brake on it (the skate of the action foot), but also which direction will be easier for learning new turning skills: left-footed skaters will want to learn clockwise turns first.
What to do if you are left-footed
If you have not yet purchased your skates, be sure to shop for one of the major brands (Salomon, K2, Rollerblade) that allows you to swap the brake from the right to the left skate. Have the sales personnel make the switch for you if possible. Not all brakes can be swapped, for example those on low-end skates and certain Rollerblade-brand Active Brake Technology (ABT and ABT Lite) models.
Don't forget to read my shopping advice before you go out to try on new skates, or you may end up with problems that can only be fixed with a second new pair of skates. The motto is: buy right, or buy twice.
If you already own skates, see if you can swap the brake, using the wrench (and owner’s guide if needed) that came packaged in the box. (If that's lost, you need to buy a 5/32" Allen wrench.) For the best service, contact your nearest certified skating instructor, who will be glad to do this for you as part of an introductory lesson.