March 2, 2014 by alinedecat
First of all, congratulations to Rena Nicely Wolf from Jacksonville RollerGirls who won the Valentine pack from my last entry!
I have been asked a few times for help with the dreadful T-stop, and in my experience, the issue usually just needs a little realization for the skater to fix it. Sometimes, you might not be aware of a tiny detail that changes everything. So, here are a few checkpoints to tame the beast !
First of all, what is a T-stop ? A T-stop is a way of braking, where one foot carries the skater and the other foot brakes perpendicularly to the other one. In the basic version, the skater is skating forward, and puts one foot perpendicularly behind the other one, hence making a T-shape with his or her feet. The rear foot can either touch the floor with all four wheels, or only the two outside weels, but never just the two inside wheels.
This last point may be a habit inherited from inline skating, or ice skating, where the ankle can be bent for a smoother braking, but that is not possible with quads.
Also, in opposition to hockey stops or plow stops, that are more powerful brakings, which will bring you from high speed to complete stop on a short distance, but will need some more width, the T-stop is a precision stop. Narrowness, control, and precision, that is what you are aiming for.
Checkpoint 1: One-foot skating
In order to master the T-stop, you need to be able to put 100% of your weight on one foot. Yes, 100%, not 95%, nor 99. All of it. So if you can do that, you might aswell just lift your foot, right?
If you can’t skate on one foot (at least the length of the track’s straightaway), you NEED to practice this. You can also practice it offskate with drill #4 I gave in this post.
Checkpoint 2: Open and close your book
As we saw previously, you can’t open your foot only, you need to open it from the groin to the tiptoe. Twisting your knee or your ankle is definitely not a good idea anyway. That’s not what it was made for.
Checkpoint 3: Use of 3 blocks
A skater’s body can be divided in 3 distinct blocks:
All three blocks rotate on an axis that is close to the skater’s spine when standing upright, and gets closer to the core as the skater goes lower.
Every block has a conductor:
- For the upper block, it’s the jaw
- For the middle block, the shoulders
- For the lower block, the hips
The skater needs to be able to rotate every block separately. And every block rotates in comparison to the next block. For example, rotating the upper block and the middle block by 45° each in the same direction means that the upper block will be 90° from its original position.
Why do you need to be able to do this? Because your body works like you have rubber bands laterally attached from your jaws to your shoulders and from your shoulders to your hips. So if you want to twist your middle block, it will be facilitated if you start with rotating the upper block even more to litterally pull your shoulders even more. This is also why I insist that skaters start with turning their head first in transitions for instance.
The T-stop is one of the rare skills where the lower block will rotate first, and that is because it is the only block that rotates. Indeed, head and shoulders should stay in absolute initial position, otherwise, you will probably turn around because without even noticing, you’re putting the weight of your turning shoulder right on that foot that is supposed to brake and NOT carry any weight.
How can you control this?
Stretch your arms in front of you and hold the hand on the side of your braking foot with the other hand (even just one finger) right in front of you. As soon as you start your T-stop, keep your arms stretched, and if your shoulders move, then your hands will move too. Pull your hands back the other way, three times as far as they have moved. For example, if your hands moved 3 inches to the right, pull them back at least 9 inches to the left. If you’re feeling the need to go further, go ahead.
Checkpoint 4: Move lower block with open book (offskate or at least not skating)
To make sure your book is correctly open, try to squat while doing it. How do your knees look? If they look like a clean symetrical angle, while your upper and middle blocks are still in initial position, then you’re good.
Checkpoint 5: All above together (first at a stop, then skating)
You might want to go on a slight outside edge with your carrying foot, to counterbalance the rotating move.
Also, sometimes skaters believe it will be easier to start with the rear foot far away from the front one, and bring it closer progressively, but this is actually not. Indeed, putting your rear foot as close as possible to the front one will help keeping 100% of the weight on the right foot (as I said in checkpoint 1, 100 is 100). It’s your initial speed that makes the rubbing, don’t add more and pointless rubbing by bringing in you braking foot from far away behind.
Checkpoint 6: Finish your move
The simplest, but maybe the most important one: hold your position until a complete stop. Those 4 last inches that so many people tend to skip are the most important ones. If you feel that something is going wrong, don’t let yourself go deeper into that, lift your foot, and put it back the correct way.
If you need to do it 10 times in a T-stop, do it. You start with correcting your position after it went wrong, then eventually you will feel the issue coming earlier and earlier and correct it while it goes wrong. And then ultimately prevent your move from going wrong.
I hope this helped, and as always: feel free to ask if you have any questions 😉