Skating is an accessible, easy-to-learn physical activity that's suitable for practically all ages. As low-impact cardio, skating provides several health benefits, including improving balance and increasing endurance – all while being gentle on your joints. In addition, the barrier of entry is low; all you need is a pair of skates, some protective gear, a smooth surface, and a willingness to learn.
If you're a first-time skater, fear not! Gaining familiarity with your skates will occur faster than you expect. However, before hitting the pavement, you may want to consider these questions:
What's the difference between inline skates and rollerblades?
Ahh, yes, the age-old question. Most people colloquially refer to inline skates as rollerblades, but rollerblades is not a type of skate; it's a skate manufacturer! Rollerblade helped grow the popularity of inline skates, but the brand did not invent or design the first inline skate. So, when you're talking about rollerblading, what you really mean is inline skating!
How hard is it to learn to inline skate?
Well, like anything, the level of difficulty is subjective. However, there are a few factors that will influence how quickly you're confident on skates. For example, a young toddler can learn how to skate but developmentally might not have the balance and fine motor skills to learn how to skate overnight.
Similarly, someone that has previously suffered an injury may be apprehensive about learning the mechanics of skating, which may also require more time to learn. That said, with a bit of patience and an open mind, anyone can begin to feel confident skating.
Are inline skates good for beginners?
Yes! If you've never skated before, inline skates may be easier for you to learn than traditional quad roller skates. If you have familiarity with ice skating, inline skating isn't too different! Because the four wheels are 'inline,' they share similar skating mechanics. However, if you've started learning on roller skates, inline skates may require a little extra practice to develop familiarity.
How do I learn how to rollerblade?
We got you! Read on to learn five easy steps to help you learn how to rollerblade.
How to Get Started With Inline Skates
So you've got your skates, you've got your protective gear, and now you want to get started inline skating. (Haven't got your skates yet? Shop Mens and Womens Skates and be sure to check out our guide to buying inline skates!)
Step One: Strap on Your Gear
It seems simple enough, but ensuring that you have the proper fit and positioning before skating for the first time is essential! First, it's important to put on your inline skate sitting down, preferably in a soft or grassy area or near a wall or ledge, so that you can begin to feel how to balance on your skates before rolling away. Also, make sure that you're wearing high, comfortable socks that will support your feet and prevent blisters.
When you're putting on your inline skates, make sure that they are snug to your foot. Different skates have different closure systems, so you may need to tighten laces, crank a ratchet buckle, or pull a boa cable taut. Find a happy medium between tight but not too tight so that your foot, ankle, and calf are well supported.
Don't forget to put on your helmet, wrist guards, wear knee pads and elbow pads! An ounce of safety gear prevention is worth a pound of cure when you're first learning.
Step Two: Stand Up and Find Your Balance
Once your skates are on, you'll need to develop your balance. While still in grass or another soft area, use a wall or ledge (or a friend!) to begin to stand up on your skates. Because you're higher up on wheels than you traditionally are on your feet, your center of gravity may feel off.
To counter this, keep your torso upright with your knees bent and sink into your hips with your feet parallel. Although you may want to look at the ground to see what you're doing, looking up will help you keep your chest above your hips so that your balance is more aligned.
Once you feel comfortable upright in the grass, get into V position. With your toes pointed slightly outward and heels closer together, you'll form a V shape. Next, if your right foot is dominant, step with your right slightly forward and out from your starting position. Then, do the same with your left foot in the opposite direction. Once you understand the principle movements, you can practice on a smooth surface.
Step Three: Practice 'the Push'
Once you're in a smooth flat area, get into the ready position. Keep your knees bent, body upright with your shoulders slightly in front of your hips, and hinge your hips slightly back with your feet in a v shape shoulder-width apart.
Similar to figure skating, you're going to pick up and push your front leg lightly, or dominant leg, out to glide forward. Then, do the same with the back leg in the opposite direction to start gliding continuously. Keep pushing one leg after the other while maintaining a slight bend your knees for more balance and power.
Also, avoid picking your foot too far off the ground to avoid losing your balance. If you do start to lose your balance try not to fall forward to catch yourself with your wrists because this can cause injury. Instead, fall forward and land on your knee pads, or fall backward with bent elbows to minimize impact with your wrist.
Congratulations, you're inline skating!
Step Four: Use the Brake
Before you get too far along in your inline skating career, you'll want to learn how to practice stopping with a heel brake. Most beginner skates blades have brake pads on either the left or right skate. However, be warned; if you use the brake pad too quickly or abruptly, you risk falling backward, so be careful to utilize the brake pad gradually.
When you're ready to brake, scissor your legs a short distance apart with the braking foot forward from your back leg. With a bend in your knees, slowly lift the toe of your skate, so the brake pad produces friction with the ground. Then, slowly glide to a complete stop.
Step Five: Work that Turn
As you become a more experienced inline skater, you'll need to learn how to turn. One method of turning is called the parallel turn. As you glide, you'll scissor your legs with the opposite foot forward from the direction you want to turn.
For example, if you want to turn right, your left foot will be in front of your right foot about hip-width apart. To turn, you'll want to carefully lean so that the edge of the wheel meets the ground. For a right turn, the inner edge of your left wheels will touch the ground, while the outer edge or your right wheels glide on the ground at the same time. Doing this will cause you to gently turn to the right without adding additional power to your turn.
When you've gained confidence and are a more experienced inline skater, you can begin to learn the crossover turn. Although it may seem intimidating at first, you can start by standing in place on your skates in grass or on a flat area. You'll pick up one foot a step slightly over and forward of the other foot. For example, if you're trying to turn left, your right leg will cross over and in front of your left leg while the toe of your left leg gently swings behind and pushes out from the front foot.
To turn right, mirror this action with your left leg crossing your right. Be careful that one skate has enough clearance to avoid crossing your skates which may cause you to lose your balance.
Additional Tips and Tricks
When you encounter uneven terrain, bend your knees and scissor your legs with your one foot slightly forward so that you have more area to balance on.
When you approach stairs, grab the railing and face toward the incline of the stairs. Lift one foot to meet the toe of your skate with the back of the stair to prevent wheels from rolling. Then, set the foot down. Next, lift the opposite foot and do the same with the other side. Take your time so your wheels don't spin as you're moving from one foot to the next.
Hit the Pavement!
Learning how to inline skate doesn't have to be complicated. With patience, a little preparation, and a good attitude, you can begin to develop your confidence in skating. As you advance, you may find yourself making a trip to the skate park or purchasing speed skates to fulfill your need for speed.
Haven't found the perfect pair of inline skate yet? Find out which skates are right for you by checking out our guide to buying inline skates and our women's specific inline skate buying guide.
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