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Inline Skating Newsletter Article

Transitions: Forward to Backwards and Vice Versa

By Liz Miller

Once you have learned to skate backward, you need to learn how to transition smoothly from forward to backward motion and vice versa. Before you try these new moves, warm up with the building skills of backward skating, A-Frame Turns and Spin Stops. There are other ways to make these directional changes (described in Get Rolling), but the ones below are the easiest to learn first.

The following instructions feel most natural to right-footed skaters. Reverse if you are a lefty.


  1. Mid spin, side viewCoasting forward at a moderate speed, look over your left shoulder and start an A-Frame (wide-stance) turn to the left. In the half second when your weight has transferred to your right skate, lift the left skate's heel (only!) and shift it quickly into a heel-to-heel position (as shown right), after pivoting with one quarter of your weight still on the left toe wheel.
  2. Return the left heel to the pavement and shift your weight onto the left skate.
  3. Quickly pivot on the right toe wheel to make that skate parallel with the left. This should leave you rolling straight backward.
  4. Complete the transition by pushing off into a regular swizzle or a half-swizzle (using either skate) to continue skating backwards.

Practice Tip #1: To interrupt the spin, focus on getting both skates parallel by distributing your weight equally after the second heel pivot.

Practice Tip #2: Once parallel, make sure your wheels are upright on the pavement and not tipped onto the inside edges, which causes turning.


When skating backwards, you need to know how to turn back around so you are once again rolling in the direction of travel. For many, this may be easier to learn than the above transition!
  1. Get some backward momentum: use gravity on a parking lot with a drain behind you, or make a couple of backwards swizzles.
  2. In the wide part of a swizzle, begin a backward A-Frame turn by looking over your right shoulder: think the word "carve" during this motion.
  3. When you have rotated a quarter turn to the right (hip bones facing sideways), briefly shift your weight to the uphill / behind / left skate.
  4. Quickly lift the right skate (no pivot) and return it to the pavement in the direction of travel: think the word "glide" during this action.
  5. The same time your are thinking the word "glide," push against the left skate's inside edges to add momentum to your glide.

clown with giant skatePractice Tip #1: This transition consists of a one-two action with the right skate: CARVE, then GLIDE. Don't add any extra footwork.The left skate stays glued to the pavement so it can support your weight and add the finishing push.

Practice Tip #2: Imagine that your skates are as big as clown shoes. You must pick up one of these great big feet and swing it all the way around until the toe is pointing forward before you put it back down on the pavement.