Those who are new to skating often ask the same questions about buying their first pair of skates. There are so many options and so many brands to choose from! The right option for your as a beginner skater depends on many factors. Devaskation loves to build custom skates for our customers because choosing the perfect components for your skates will get you the best results and keep you skating! So, we’ve outlined XX steps that beginners can use to choose and buy roller skates.
Easy Steps for Buying Beginner Skates:
Decide What Kind of Skater you Want to Be
Beginners often have a good idea of what type of skating they want to do before they buy skates. Or, they have a purpose in mind such as skating a few miles to work every day or recreational skating at a skating rink. Some beginners want to dance on skates and some want to go fast! Depending on what you want to accomplish, we’ve identified 7 different types of skates that suit 95% of the skating population. Step 1 of the process includes deciding which of these types of skates is for you!
The 7 Main Types of Skates:
- Rink / Recreational Skates (Quad & Inline)
- Outdoor Skates (Quad & Inline)
- Fitness and Exercise Skates (Quad & Inline)
- Speed Skates (Inline & Quad)
- Artistic Skates (Quad)
- Jam/Rhythm Skates (Quad)
- Roller Derby / Competition (Quad & Inline)
- Pools or “bowls” & Parks (Quad & Aggressive Inline)
Gain a Basic Understanding of Skate Parts
Skates are made up of only 5-6 main components and understanding what those components are and how they work will help you decide what skates to buy. But, most importantly knowledge of the components is paramount to determining what components are quality and what components are junk! Below is a list of the 3 main components of skates that you should be knowledgeable about:
Boots are what you slide your feet in. They should fit snug, but not tight. Boots should not fit loosely or they will cause unnecessary blistering. Skate boots rarely compare to shoe size and just because you wear a size 9 shoe doesn’t mean you will wear a size 9 skate. Boots come in leather and alternative, light-weight materials.
Plates attach to the boot (underneath) and contain trucks and axles to hold the wheels on. They also have bushings to absorb shock and help you rebound off hard pushes. Many quad skate plates are made of composite, light-weight materials. Other plates are made of aluminum or other metals for heavier, more intense skaters. Depending on your size and how hard you skate will determine if you are okay to use a composite plate or if you need an aluminum skate plate. If you are over 180 lbs and you skate regularly, it is recommended that you get an aluminum skate plate. The composite plates can often support heavier skaters, but they can also fail.
Wheels & Bearings
Wheels and bearings are what allow the skates to roll down the sidewalk or rink. The bearings come in all kinds of forms with many quality ratings such as “ABEC” or “Swiss”. The best bearings for you depend on what type of skating you are doing. Wheels are extremely important for beginner skaters and they come in all kinds of sizes, colors, hardnesses, and styles. Check out our Guide to Skate Bearings! We also have 2 articles on indoor and outdoor wheels: Indoors (painted concrete, sport court, wood, etc.) vs. Outdoors (smooth concrete w/ no cracks like tennis courts, concrete w/ cracks like sidewalk, blacktop or asphalt, etc.)
Choose Quad Roller Skates or Inline Skates
Based on what type of skating you want to do, novice skaters need to decide whether to go with quad skates (4 wheels on each corner) or inline “rollerblade” skates (all wheels in a line). Many new skaters choose quad skates because quads are versatile and stable. Quad skates have a toe stop to make quick stops easier and learning to skate is generally quicker on quad skates. Inline skates are a popular choice for outdoor and speed skating because they are much faster in rinks and outdoors. Inline skates don’t use a typical toe stop like quads, but some models do have brakes. What you choose is entirely up to you, but you should know the basic differences between roller skates and roller blades / inline skates.
Consider the Skating Surface
Are you going to be skating indoors, outdoors, or a combination of both? What types of debris or obstacles might you encounter? These questions are pertinent for amateur skaters to consider. The surface you skate on will determine what wheels you need to deploy. If you are skating indoors, you will need a harder wheel with less forgiveness than an outdoor wheel. Outdoor skaters need a softer wheel that can adjust to bumpy situations, concrete, rocks, cracks, and sidewalks. If you plan on skating indoors and outdoors with the same skates, you need to consider a hybrid wheel that can handle both indoor floors and outdoor sidewalks and roads. Many skaters keep two sets of wheels (or more) so that they can easily skate on different surfaces with grip and reliable control. Ultimately, choosing the right wheels for the surfaces you will encounter will make your skating easier and a lot more fun. The wrong wheels could cause a potential disaster and damage your skates or even cause injury.
Understand that Weight Matters
Beginner skaters sometimes don’t know that weight matters when choosing skate components. Larger skaters (180+ lbs) need a reliable plate that can withstand the pressure and power that someone of size can produce. Heavier skaters also can affect how wheels perform and those skaters might need to get a slightly stiffer wheel even on surfaces that generally would require a softer wheel. During the buying process, make sure you let your skate shop know that you are a beginner and you need advice on wheels based on your skating style and weight.
Evaluate How Serious You are About Skating
Are you going to skate every day? If you are, then you should consider the quality of the components more seriously than if you are only going to skate on weekends at the roller rink. Are you skating outdoors or at parks? There is significant more wear and tear on your skates in these situations than if you are only skating indoors on smooth surfaces. Keep this in mind when you’re choosing skates for the first time.
Pro Tip for Beginner Skaters:
Novice skaters sometimes overthink the first purchase of skates. It is best to start with something fairly inexpensive (but good) and then work your way up to something awesome. As you practice skating you will continually get better. Your equipment and the quality of your components will become increasingly more meaningful as you move from a beginner skater to an intermediate skater — and hopefully eventually to an awesome skater! But, keep in mind when you are new to skating there is no need to go spend $500 on a skate. Be reasonable and ease into the sport!
Evaluate Your Physical Limitations
Not everyone was built for jumping into empty pools with skates on. Doing flips and tricks might not be for you. Conversely, maybe you are into tricks, speed, roller derby, or competition. Whatever you want to do with your skates is fine with us, but just be reasonable about your expectations and make sure you learn to skate before you do anything wild! You really can get hurt if you push yourself too hard. Also, some people have disabilities or physical issues that do not allow for hard skating. Don’t let that stop you from skating, but please disclose anything you feel comfortable talking about to your skate shop. It might make a difference in how you skate fits or what components are recommended.
Choosing the right skates for beginners is easy if you do a little research and learn a little bit about skates. We are here to answer your questions and give you advice. Just contact us and we will do our best to help!