What Should I Consider When Buying Inline Skates?

Jeff Petersen
Jeff Petersen

There are a lot of important choices to make when deciding on a pair of inline skates. Fortunately, with a little planning and a little shopping around, you can make all the choices that are right for you. Probably the most important thing to consider when buying them is getting a pair that fit you well. If your skates don't fit correctly you can develop blisters while you skate and you will be more likely to injure yourself.

Inline skates should fit correctly.
Inline skates should fit correctly.

Make sure that you wear a good pair of socks when you go to try on your inline skates. You'll want to wear a thick pair of sports socks, so that you can get an accurate fit. Your skates should be snug and support your ankles, but shouldn't feel tight or pinch your feet. Depending on the brand and style of skates you buy, the size may be different from your shoe size, so make sure to try them on in the store before you buy.

Another consideration for inline skates is the type of skating that you'll be doing most. They can be used for recreation, speed skating, street hockey, and trick skating. Each activity is best performed with the correct style of skate.

Recreational inline skates are the most common that you'll find. They usually have four wheels and a rubber brake at the back. These can be used for other skating activities, and offer a good all-around skate. These are the best types for beginners.

For speed skating, inline skates usually have five or even more wheels on each skate. These skates sometimes lack a heel brake, and can have less ankle support. These are specialized for fast, straight skating, and are not well suited to recreational skating, hockey, or trick skating.

Hockey inline skates have four small wheels and no brake. They are usually heavier than the standard ones, and constructed of very tough material. They can be used for recreational skating, but because of the added weight and typically higher price, they are most often used for street hockey.

Inline skates used for trick skating in a skate park or pipe are sometimes referred to as extreme skates. They have small wheels, and often have grind plates -- areas of reinforcement on the sides, toe, and between the wheels — that allow the skater to slide along obstacles in a variety of maneuvers. They usually do not have a brake. They can be used for hockey or recreational skating, but are specialized for tricks.

Jeff Petersen
Jeff Petersen

Jeff is a freelance writer, short story author, and novelist who earned his B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Creighton University. Based in Berkeley, California, Jeff loves putting his esoteric knowledge to good use as a wiseGEEK contributor.

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Discussion Comments


For those that have children learning to inline skate can be a fantastic activity for the family. It offers a great way for everyone to get exercise and also promotes getting outdoors.

If you are considering buying a set for your family, head to a smaller retailer or independently owned store. Sometimes you can get discounts for buying several pairs at once. Also, they are usually more willing to make sure all the safety equipment is the best for your needs.

As a reminder, you will more than likely need to assist your children in standing when they are trying on the inline skates. It is a good idea to sit on a chair and let them stand between your legs for support to avoid any accidents. I speak from experience.


If you are considering buying your first pair of inline skates I would suggest you ask your friends and family if anyone has a pair they can give or lend you.

I have had a few friends that have really struggled with learning how to inline skate and eventually gave up on the activity. If you haven't tried it before it is best to see if you think you can actually do it first, before investing in new inline skates.

A tip for beginners is to try to learn to inline skate on carpet first. I found that the surface texture made it much easier to learn to stand and move about.

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