Side surfing is an alternative method of propelling yourself on inline or roller skates. Striding and gliding are the term given to roller skaters or inline skaters who skate by placing their feet in the traditional position – parallel to each other – and pushing side-to-side to propel the skates. In the side surf position, skaters place their heels back-to-back creating a line of wheels with the toes pointing away from each other. This spread eagle position allows the skater to pump or swizzle sideways to gain momentum. Side surfers propel themselves forwards by rotating their hips from side-to-side while pushing their skates perpendicular to their direction of motion. Side surfing is also known as crabbing, because the movements used to propel the skater are similar to the way that a crab moves along. The motion is similar to what is seen on snow boards, except that the toes on each foot are turned outwards.
Side surfing will definitely remind you of snowboarding, if you see it done on a downhill incline, because the skater will gain speed with help from the force of gravity and will control that extra speed via edging. Side surfing techniques are also used in a variety of other roller skating sports, including roller derby, vertical skating (aggressive and park), freestyle slalom and even in an occasional inline figure skating program as part of a footwork sequence. Side surfing is not easy for beginners, but any intermediate or advanced skater who has enough range of motion in the groin area to be comfortable in the side surf position will have fun using this skating option to propel themselves around.
Like many inline and roller sports moves, there are variations depending on the athlete, the skates (quad or inline) and the discipline.
- Watch inline skating instructor Asha Kirkby of Skatefresh as she explains the correct way to do entry level side surfing or a spread eagle on inline skates or rollerblades.
- This Hot Steppin' Granny Quad Roller Skating Instructional Video shows a quad skater doing a more advanced side surfing sequence.
How to Start Side Surfing
If you are interested in side surfing, begin by stretching off skates and on skates to increase your range of motion in the hips and groin. Stand alongside a wall or rail with your feet together heel to heel. Gently bend and straighten the knees until you are comfortable with your feet in-line, straight or bent knees and open hips. You can also try this hip opener and groin stretch.
Begin to use this new position by skating in small circles and slowly increasing the circle size until you can skate flats, inside edges or outside edges with your feet in-line. Once the position is possible while rolling, just add the side-to-side pushes and you can add side surfing to your list of skills.
If you would like to try a unique equipment adventure, try a pair of Freeline Skates. They are fun for recreational and semi-aggressive skating, since skaters can do similar tricks to those done on inline skates or skate boards - with practice. The technique used to propel them will remind you of side surfing on your inline or quad skates.