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How to Start Roller Skating Without Breaking Anything

Roller skating embodies a unique sense of freedom. Whether you’re gliding at high speeds or making small pivots in a confined space, skating allows you to move in ways that those in regular shoes can’t. If you’re ready to join the world of roller skaters, here’s a guide to get you started.

My Roller Skating Journey

I spent years playing roller derby, which helped me become comfortable on skates. In my spare time, I practiced figure skating moves like turns and jumps, and fun tricks like “shooting the duck.” Although I tried skate dancing during the pandemic lockdowns, I wasn’t particularly good at it. Today, I’m sharing essential beginner tips to help you start skating as soon as possible.

Getting Your First Pair of Skates

When we talk about “roller skating,” we’re usually referring to quad skates, which have four wheels: two in the front and two in the back. Here are the two main types of quad skates:

  1. High-Ankle Skates: These have heeled boots that lace up the ankles, making them ideal for figure skating moves and casual skating. They are the classic retro-style skates.
  2. Low-Cut Skates: These resemble sneakers and provide zero ankle support but more flexibility. They are great for jam skating and roller derby.

Choose your skates based on your style and needs, but avoid going too cheap. Skates below $80 might lack proper equipment. Ensure your skates have a strong plate, and functional trucks for movement between the wheel axle and plate. Nylon plates are not recommended for individuals over 200 pounds; opt for aluminum or fiberglass instead.

Recommended Beginner Brands

  • High Ankle Skates (Retro/Artistic Style): Candi Grl, Impala, Moxi Beach Bunny, Riedell Wave
  • Low Cut Skates (Derby/Jam Style): Riedell R3, Riedell Dart, Sure-Grip GT-50

Safety Gear

Until you master falling safely, always wear safety gear. Kneepads are essential, with hard caps being the best choice. A helmet is crucial, and consider elbow pads and wrist guards for added protection.

Basic Skate Maintenance

Keep your skates in top condition by regularly tightening or loosening the wheel nuts and adjusting the trucks. Use a basic skate tool for this. For hard indoor floors, use wheels with a durometer rating in the 90s, while softer wheels with ratings in the 80s are better for outdoor skating. Also, check your toe stops and replace them as needed.

Getting Comfortable on Skates

Start by wearing your skates at home to get used to the feeling. Avoid practicing in areas with sharp or delicate objects. Walking on carpet can help you learn to distribute your weight properly. Skating in small spaces, like your kitchen, can improve your pivoting and maneuvering skills.

Skating Without Falling

Practice basic stances and movements in a small space. Always keep your knees bent to maintain balance. Use a T-stance when standing still and learn to push off to start moving. To stop, use a dragging motion with all four wheels of the back foot on the ground.

Learning Some Moves

Once you’re comfortable, start learning some moves. For outdoor skating, wear your helmet and kneepads, and begin on smooth, flat surfaces. Indoors, you can practice dance moves and basic steps even in a limited space. Watch tutorial videos to learn new techniques and stay inspired.


Roller skating is a fun and liberating activity that anyone can enjoy with a bit of practice and the right equipment. Stay safe, maintain your skates, and don’t be afraid to get creative. Share your progress on social media to inspire others, and most importantly, have fun.

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