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Buying Inline Skates for Growing Children

Kids Need Good Skates, Too


Girl (9-11) wearing inline skates sitting on curb portrait
Kane Skennar/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Inline skating is an easy-to-access social and physical activity solution for kids with balance skills, but buying inline skates for young skaters is not as easy. There are many brands and styles of skates that make fun kids skating gifts, but it is very hard to find small, durable, supportive, well-made inline skates with quality wheels and bearings. And when you introduce a youngster to roller sports and provide him or her with the required safety tips for kids, they deserve to skate in good gear - especially if he or she will participate in family skating activities and may need to try to keep up with you. The information below will help you make decisions on affordable solutions for children's inline skating equipment.

  • Look for durable equipment. It is hard to find skates that are of good quality in smaller sizes.
  • Cost will be a factor because children's feet grow and replacing skates can be expensive. But, good equipment can be re-sold to help offset the price of the next pair.
  • Remember that in many cases low quality wheels and bearings can be upgraded, but a bad fit cannot be corrected and will affect your child's skating and comfort.

Children Need the Inline Skate Features That Adults Need

A child needs good skating equipment with a similar set of support, durability, quality and wheel set-up features that an adult would need for a comparable level of inline skating. A beginner kid can certainly use entry level equipment. A child who does trail skating with the family will need appropriate features to keep up with everyone. Children who participate in the hockey, speed or figure disciplines will definitely need sport specific inline equipment in order to participate.

Do Not Buy Inline Skates That Are Too Large

When buying inline skates for children, choosing a pair that is way too big is not a good solution to accommodate growth. Skates which are either too large or too small will cause blisters, provide inadequate support and slow down the learning curve, too.

Do Not Buy Inline Skates That Have Inadequate Support

Any brand of children's inline skates that do not keep the ankle upright when securely fastened are not a good plan. Even if the boot fits the foot properly, lack of ankle support is a sign of the wrong skate for your child.

Consider Inline Skates With Growth Liners or Insoles

Recreational inline skates that come with removable liners occasionally have optional liner sizes to accommodate growth. Parents whose children who skate in inline figure skates can usually get growth insoles from the boot manufacturer or the shop that did the child’s boot fitting. This insole or the optional liner will temporarily fill up any extra space left for growth to maintain a good fit for the child’s foot until it catches up to the boot size. Availability of these options should be discussed with your rink pro shop or inline skate retailer, and these items definitely will require the presence of the skater at the time of purchase to fit properly.

Try Adjustable Inline Skates

A big consideration for parents when buying good quality inline skates is the expense of replacing skates as the child grows. But, there are a lot of affordable adjustable skates for kids that can be purchased online, at a local rink pro shop or at a sporting goods store. These skates will actually grow a few sizes with your little skater, so having him or her there for a fitting is not crucial. In addition to entry level recreational skates, there are adjustable inline skate models for young hockey and speed skaters, too.

Consider Buying Used Inline Skates

Another option is to try carefully selected used inline skates that can sometimes be found by shopping on Ebay, at Play It Again Sports, flea markets or at other resale stores. Usually, children outgrow their inline skates before they wear them out, so there is a lot of equipment for youth that is in good condition sitting around in closets and consignment shops waiting for a good home.

Remember That Inline Skate Sizes Vary

Inline skates are just like any other footwear - sizes vary between brands and styles. Many seasoned skaters select brands for the slight differences in fit as much as they choose them for features. A child usually is not given the option, but his or her little feel have feelings and can feel slight differences, too. Whenever possible, bring the skater along on the shopping trip and listen to your child's comments. For gift purchases and other situations, make sure to follow the instructions below and be sure that any unused skate purchased is exchangeable. Keep your exchange options open by never skating in equipment that doesn't fee right while standing or walking on carpet.

How To Buy Without the Skater

If you are considering adjustable inline skates or will be making any other inline skate purchase without your little skater present, be sure to trace the child’s stocking feet in advance using the type of socks that will be worn for skating. Measure the length of the tracing from heel to toe and measure the widest width across the ball of the foot on the tracing. Provide these measurements as additional info, if shopping online. Most online retailers will appreciate this, because it may reduce returns. Or cut out the tracings to compare to insoles or liners, if shopping at a retail store. This extra step will help you and your sales person select an adjustable skate with the longest possible use time or a regular skate with a better fit. And if your child’s foot has any irregular features, this may prevent you from buying a skate that doesn’t accommodate them.

Do Not Buy Without Consulting the Coach

If your child is in a group skating class or private lesson training program, be sure to speak with instructors or coaches before buying any inline skating equipment. The wrong equipment for training can make your investment in lessons a waste of money. Besides, private lesson and group class fees include any and all expertise your inline skating professional can offer - so take it even if you don't need it.

Protective Gear Can Be Outgrown, Too

If your little skater has outgrown his or her inline skates, be sure to check the helmet and other safety gear to see if they still fit, too. Everything needs to fit properly for safe inline skating.

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