One of the hardest decisions you’ll have to make as a beginner to roller skating is which skates to buy.

You could have a friend who claims to have the best roller skates, how do you know that they’ll be right for you?

While it’s difficult to say without actually trying the skates on and putting them through their paces, there are several factors you can think about to help you make an informed decision when the time comes.

The best roller skates for beginners are those which fit perfectly, are robust, and are tailor-made for the type of skating you want to do.

If you don’t yet know how to roller skate but you want to learn, it’s best to invest in your own skates just to save yourself the fee that a rink might charge you to hire a pair out each time you go.

Once you have some, why not hire a private roller skating tutor on Superprof?

That way, you can get to grips with the basics on your new skates before you try out your moves in front of an audience.

With your own skates, you’ll be able to go to the rink whenever you want, practise around the city in or attend a roller skating uk event, and even stick them on in your garden just to improve your balance with wheels on your feet.

Only once you’ve reached a point where you feel comfortable skating around with a reliable pair of skates will you feel confident enough to initiate a roller skating date or show off your moves at local roller skating events.

So, to give you a clear idea of where to start and what factors to consider, here’s a roller skate buyer’s guide for beginners:

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What are the Different Types of Skates?

gold skates
While these gold skates are out of the question, there are many skates out there to choose from. Source: Unsplash

Believe it or not, there are several types of skates to choose from.

While the first thing that comes to your mind will likely be the standard boot with four wheels across two tracks - and this is the most common variation - it isn’t the only skate out there.

So what are your options?

Inline

Inline skates probably aren’t going to be an option for you if you haven’t roller skated before.

Why?

Because they’re much trickier to get the hang of as they are designed for quick movement across long distances with plenty of maneuverability for the agile skater.

With inline skates you might ask yourself ‘where can I skate?’

Well, the people you see zooming around London on skates, for example, are most likely wearing inline skates. As such, it’s very much an outdoor skate intended for trails and urban exploration.

The inline skate is basically a boot that has a single track with three wheels one in front of the other. If you’re at all interested in playing roller hockey or doing some rapid urban exploration or commuting on wheels, then they’re the skates to invest in.

The brake for the inline skate boot is located at the back of the boot, as opposed to the quad skate which has a toe stopper at the front for bringing things to a halt.

Aggressive skates fall into the category of inland skates too, but they’re mostly intended for advanced skaters looking to pull off all kinds of tricks.

Quad

The second, and more common type of skate, is the quad skate.

As a beginner, this is the type of skate you’ll be best off learning with.

This is primarily due to the four-wheel system which lends a lot of stability to the boot.

Quad skates are typically used for dancing on skates, casually skating around, and even roller derby.

As previously mentioned, the quad skate features a toe stopper at the front which acts as the braking system, which for many people will be easier to activate than the rear brake of the inline skate.

If you decide on the quad skate, it doesn’t end there. There are several different types of quad skates, each suited to a different style of skating.

The variations of quad skate are as follows:

Roller Rink

Roller rink skates are one of the most common types of quad skates, and they are also referred to as indoor skates.

As you might imagine, they are best used for indoor roller rinks or recreational skating.

The design of the boot is simple, with the four wheels grouped closely together and a smaller shoe design.

Outdoor

If there are indoor skates, then you probably already guessed correctly that there are outdoor skates too.

Outdoor skates are the ones you’ve probably seen a lot of people wearing as they cruise around the city in cycle paths or other outdoor locations.

It’s hard to define the outdoor skate with precision because you can find both high and low boots. However, this type of skate is usually the typical boot design with four spaced out wheels that are on the softer side to ensure plain sailing on hard outdoor surfaces.

Roller Derby

Roller derby skates are more specialist, as they are used mostly for the sport of roller derby skating. As such, if you’re interested in skating for fitness and getting involved in a fun new sport then they could be worth the investment.

The advantage they offer the wearer is a high levelpracticeuverability even at high speeds.

The roller derby skate looks more like a low cut shoe than a boot.

Jam

Finally, we have the jam skate.

This type of skate is also commonly known as a speed skate, which tells you all you need to know about its purpose.

The low cut shoes are similar to roller derby skates, and this is to guarantee agility and speed, so if you want to dance around and let your hair down while skating then it’s the best type of quad skate for you.

The Right Size of Roller Skates

bowling shoes
Finding the right size skate is a simple matter of using your current shoe size and going a size up from that. Source: Unsplash

Once you’ve settled on the type of skate you want to go with, it’s time to figure out the sizing.

As with any pair of shoes, finding the right size can be a pain. This is especially true if you have particularly large feet.

To figure out the best size for you, it’s often best to go for a size larger than your usual shoe size.

You should of course also read the size guide for the pair of skates you’re looking at.

The best way to ensure a guaranteed fit is to try some skates on in person, since buying online and hoping for the best might not end well.

How About The Construction?

skating boot
The construction of the skate should factor into your decision-making process. Source: Unsplash

The last thing to think about is the construction of the skates.

A skate is made up of many components, including the boot, the bearings, and the wheels.

Here are some of the most important factors to consider with regards to each component:

Boot

The boot itself can be either hard or soft.

The hard boot is best for long skates and providing support for your feet, plus it’s a robust option that can be ideal for beginners who’ll take their fair share of tumbles.

The soft boot is better for twisting and turning, so it’s a good option for dancing on skates for example, and it will make a lightweight skate so you’ll feel like you’re floating on air as you glide around.

Bearings

The bearings of the skate shouldn’t have too much of a bearing on your decision-making process.

Essentially, the bearings are what keep the wheels on the axles. Each wheel requires two bearings, and this small device can affect the speed of your skating.

As a beginner, this isn’t an important consideration, but once you master the basics and want to go a little faster you could consider different bearings for your skates.

The most important thing to remember is to regularly clean the bearings for a smooth ride and to stay clear of water and sand to keep them working properly.

Wheels

The wheels of the skates, like the boots, can be hard or soft.

The type of wheels won’t make a huge difference on your skating experience as a beginner, so it isn’t a crucial factor, but there are some factors they can influence.

For example, hard wheels will ensure your skates will last a long time whereas soft wheels will provide greater grip to the ground beneath you.

As such, it’s a question of durability vs stability, so we would recommend opting for softer wheels as a beginner.

How can you tell the hardness of the wheel?

There’s a scale from 0-100A, with 100 being the hardest.

Truck and Plate

The truck and plate of the skates make up the core of the skate, and as such they are usually made from robust metals such as aluminium.

The main consideration here should be to do with the plate.

Skate plates in quad skates have cushions fitted underneath which can affect the comfort and maneuverability the skates offer.

Firmer cushions offer more stability while softer cushions make it easier for you to twist and turn freely.

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Samuel

Sam is an English teaching assistant and freelance writer based in southern Spain. He enjoys exploring new places and cultures, and picking up languages along the way.