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Please help. Skating physics question I can't answer.

  1. May 6, 2018 #1
    Okay, I joined the forums hoping to get a push in the right direction from some of the great minds I see posting on the forums here. In short I have a roller skating related physics question. I am trying to figure out and prove whether it is faster, in order to gain speed from a dead stop, to do a hockey sprint style take off before transitioning into a stride, or if it is faster to run on the toe stops of the skates for a few steps before transitioning to the stride..

    I have tested both physically and watched other skaters race using these two methods against each other. The one with the most skill in their preferred start is usually the winner, as I have seen both methods beat each other.. So my question is, how can I find and prove which of the two is actually worth training to get better at? There are many things to take into account and I am unsure what to do, as it seems a simple race has too many elements that rely on human skill for me to see from it which method holds the most practical advantages.

    Can anyone provide some insight on how to answer this?
    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: May 6, 2018
  2. jcsd
  3. May 6, 2018 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    This is probably too hard to model for an accurate theoretical estimate, at least without studying it for months. Starting to run with normal shoes is certainly faster, but running on the toe stops is awkward, and you would have to model this awkwardness.
    The experimental approach is probably easier.
  4. May 6, 2018 #3
    Thanks for the reply!

    If the experimental model is best, what are some things to look for in order to eliminate any bias that could be caused by me (or another participant) simply being more comfortable with one or the other currently?
  5. May 6, 2018 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    Well, what do you want to find out?

    What will will a race at a given skill level? See what the fastest competitors do.

    What will make you faster after x amount of training? Who knows. You can try both a bit and see what works better. That doesn't mean it is still better after years of training, but it gives some indication, especially if you combine it with experimental data from races from above (does the distribution shift with increasing skill level?).

    I don't know about skating, but there are multiple sports where amateurs use different approaches than experts - strategies where your performance increases faster but then levels out at a lower level than strategies that need more time to learn but lead to a better performance after years of training.
  6. May 6, 2018 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    There is your answer. Take the method you prefer and practice, practice, practice.
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