How to stop in 1772

“How do I stop?” is usually among the first questions asked by beginning skaters. Robert Jones notes that being able to stop is important because skaters often collide and recommends three ways to stop in his book (pp. 56–57):

Jump and make a quarter turn in the air

[Stopping] may be easily done, by leaping up, and coming down with the feet parallel, at about twelve inches asunder, and turned as much as possible to the right or left; so that according to the seaman’s phrase, the broad sides of the skates may be before you.

I have never seen anyone stop using this method. It sounds both showy and dangerous.

Hockey stop

When travelling, you may stop yourself, by only turning the feet to the right or left, as before described, and pressing on the inside edge of the foremost foot.

These first two methods are recommended and help skaters “avoid many dangers, such as banks of snow, broken ice, &c. “

Heel stop

This is the most common method, and the least useful.

But the method which skaters generally make use of to stop themselves, is by no means so certain; for as they only bear on the heels of their skates, they run a considerable distance before they stop, by which means they not only spoil the ice, but often break their skates; and, unless they perceive the danger at some distance, are not able to escape it.

This is an interesting parallel to inline skating today: skates designed for beginners typically come with a heel brake. It’s meant to be dragged on the ground to bring the skater to a gradual stop. This doesn’t work very well, and advanced skaters remove the heel brake (or buy skates without one) and stop in other ways.


R. Jones and W. E. Cormack. 2017. A Treatise on Skating. Edited by B. A. Thurber. Evanston, IL: Skating History Press.