Rolling with the Punches: Types of Roller Skates and Why It Matters

Rolling with the Punches: Types of Roller Skates and Why It Matters

If you're just starting out in the skating rink, it can be pretty intimidating. Not only are there people whizzing past you as you're trying to gain your balance, but the jargon floating around can be confusing and overwhelming if you don't know what it all means. Speed skates, racing skates, jam skates — what's the difference between them all? We've put together a handy list to help you understand the lingo and pick the best skate for you.


Indoor skates are the roller skates you’re probably used to renting at any public skate rink. Sometimes referred to as recreational or traditional skates, they have a high-top style that gives better control while spinning or jumping. Their wheels are also narrower for easy turning.


Speed skates are low-cut in a style that’s similar to sneakers, which helps to glide around corners easily. The minimal padding helps to cut down on wind resistance, allowing you to skate faster and longer.


Jam skates, also called dance skates, have a similarly sleek design to speed skates. Their slim style is perfect for turning and spinning, but the most important feature on jam skates is the dance plug that’s in place of the toe stop. The toe stop can be quite a hindrance for freestyle types of skating. This plug simply fills the hole where the toe stop would be, so the screw that’s inside of it doesn’t damage the floor.


Outdoor skates are very similar to traditional indoor skates, although they can come in either a low-cut or high-top style. Generally speaking, the wheels are the only difference. Their softer construction is better at absorbing shock for rougher terrains that you won’t see in a skating rink.


Roller Derby skates are not for the faint of heart. With a sport as tough as Roller Derby, you need a skate that will endure just as much wear and tear as you will. This skate style generally features a low-cut boot for better mobility, reinforced toes for extra durability and stickier wheels that provide stronger traction.


Kids’ skates may be self-explanatory, but it’s still important to know the characteristics that make them better for little ones. These skates are designed to go slower than traditional skates and are more durable for harder wear and tear.


Inline skates are, as their name suggestions, skates that feature wheels in one single line. Sometimes referred to by rookies as “rollerblades,” there are three main types of inline skates. Recreational inline skates (also referred to as fitness skates) have extra padding and better ankle support for skating for long periods of time. Racing inline skates are designed for speed. Their snug fit minimizes wind resistance and their wheels are interchangeable for both indoor and outdoor skating. Roller hockey inline skates are constructed with better durability, just like roller derby skates, for harder wear and tear.


Using a skate that’s not designed for the sport you’re performing can be unsafe and unproductive. If you’re using jam skates in place of outdoor skates, for example, you’re going to get a rougher ride and your skates will wear out much faster. Choosing the skates that are designed for your preferred sport will increase your performance by giving you support where you need it and freedom where you don’t.


Credit: Photo by Freepik


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