Google Web
Skate FAQs: Tutorials - Backwards Stair-Riding

TUTORIAL #1 v1.00

Backwards Stair-Riding Tutorial by Scott Weintraub (


In-line skating can be a safe sport, provided that you wear safety-gear and skate within your ability. Neither Scott Weintraub nor the maintainers of this FAQ take any responsibility for any injuries you may incur while attempting any of these moves.

Additionally, these pictures are the property of Scott Weintraub ( Copying them for your own use requires his prior permission.

See all the pictures in sequence.

Backwards stair-riding is a little more difficult than forward stairs to learn but ultimately much easier to do. Forward stair-riding is a rough and awkward ride while backwards stair-riding, if done correctly, is really smooth. Don't ask me exactly why this is so. It just is.

Before attempting to do this, make sure you are at least semi-confident when cruising backwards on flat ground. If you feel like you don't have much control while doing this, perhaps it would be best to practice it before riding those stairs. Obviously, if you feel a little nervous when moving backwards, you will absolutely freak when you hit that first step and the ground drops out beneath you.

Think of any set of stairs as just rough terrain because that is, more-or-less, what it is.

The first set of stairs that you decide to ride backwards should have nice and long, wide steps, similar to the size of the ones you see in the GIFs provided. You might want to start with a slightly shorter set though. Three or four steps would probably be perfect. Try to find a set made of smooth concrete or cement. You don't want them to be broken up or filled with cracks. You'll want a sufficient amount of distance to begin in and a good-sized area to end in, too. Try to find a place that is relatively free of gravel and make sure that there isn't a lip sticking up at the top, just before the first step.

The above requirements may sound demanding and it may take you a while to find the perfect set to start on but keep searching. You want to learn on a nice set and then as you get better and more confident, you can start riding steeper and longer sets of stairs that satisfy less of the above requirements.

It's very important to relax your body when riding stairs. You want to be tense enough to hold your form but if you're too tense, you might start bouncing around or skipping whole steps. You want to be smooth and graceful and as you descend, you want to hit each step with the same amount of force. Don't try to control the stairs. When you hit that first step, just go with the flow. Like when a surfer rides a wave, he becomes one with it, the inline skater should do the same with a set of stairs.

GIFs #1-#3: The first three GIFs are shots of how your form should look. As you can see in GIF #2, your wheels should be almost, but not quite, right in a row. GIF #1 shows a side-shot of how your skates should look. Your knees should be slightly bent. Your gravity should be centered. You may put whichever foot you feel most comfortable with in back. GIF #3

Practice making a transition from skating forward to skating backwards to getting into your backwards stair-riding form on flat ground. You want to make sure you can at least coast backwards in this stance across the ground before you attempt to do it on stairs.

GIF #4: I'm making my approach to the stairs. Notice that I made my transition from forward to backwards, and got into backwards stair-riding form well before the stairs. Until you get good, you will want to leave yourself plenty of room before that first step. It would be a bad idea to first flip from forwards to backwards five feet before the stairs.

You are going to want to hit the steps at a moderate speed. If you're going to slow, your feet will get caught up between the steps. If you're going too fast, you'll most likely slip somewhere along the way. If, for any reason, when you're learning, the ride seems a little too bumpy, try hitting the stairs at a slightly faster speed. That usually does the trick.

GIF #5: I begin riding the stairs. At this point, I'm holding my form firmly but my knees are relaxed and acting like shocks in a car. Like I said, just go with the stairs. Don't try to control them.

GIFs #5 and #6: Notice that my feet are pretty much parallel with the ground. This is key. You will always want to be parallel with the ground. This usually requires you putting a little extra pressure on your toes. Try to do that but also keep your gravity centered. Remember, you probably won't get hurt if you fall forward. However, if you fall backwards, there is a greater risk of injury. So, it's best to overcommitt your weight, forward, then to put too much weight, backwards.

The reason your weight should be emphasized on your toes is because you don't want your skate to drop down to the next step until all four wheels are off that step. You want your skate to stay parallel with the ground because if your heal begins to drop to the next step while your toes are still on the last step, you will catch the stairs between your wheels. Think about it for a few minutes.

Beginning skaters may get into the bad habit of not looking behind them when skating stairs, backwards, or just skating backwards in general. Notice, in GIF #6 that my head is looking in the direction I'm traveling. I happen to feel a lot more comfortable, when riding stairs, looking under my right arm as opposed to over my shoulder. Go with whichever suits you best.

If you're having trouble keeping your eyes focused in the direction you're traveling, here is a little trick that may help you: Try locking your eyes on an object off in the distance. Skate forward toward it and keep your head locked on it, and then switch to backwards, remaining locked. Do this a few times, and in no time, you should be able to keep your vision in the right place.

Backwards stair-riding takes a fair amount practice to get good at. Once you find that good set to learn on, do it over and over again, many times until you feel smooth, stable, and confident. At first, the ride may feel a little bumpy and awkward but if you keep trying and don't get frustrated you can learn this fun, practical, and impressive trick.

As you get better, move on to longer and steeper sets of stairs. You may want to try to approach them while skating forwards, and jump-180 onto them. Try riding a set really fast. Or try riding a set really slow. Use your imagination. Have fun. Always wear protection.

_Questions, comments, etc, can all be addressed to me, Scott Weintraub, at

[ HOME ]
Help support Skate FAQs!
General Info Techniques Marketplace Where to Skate Tutorials
Ask Tony
Quotable Posts
Skating Backwards
Skating Downhill
Figure Skating
Buying Guide
Essential Gear
Used Skates Guide
Kids Skates Guide
Buying Women's Skates
Where to Buy
Skate Reviews
Other Reviews
Search Western
Backwards stair-riding
Power slide

Copyright © 1996-2009 Anthony D. Chen,

Serving the inline skating community since 1991

Online Privacy Policy