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Is it easier to roller skate or inline skate?

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Couple inline skating (Blurred Motion)
Ron Chapple/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Question: Is it easier to learn to roller skate on traditional quads or inline skates?

Many potential inline or roller skaters want to know whether inline skating (sometimes called rollerblading) or quad roller skating is easier to master.

Answer:

Surprisingly, many people – young and old – become mobile (able to get around without help) on inline skates much faster than on traditional quad roller skates. That is because most well-made recreational inline skates offer a lot of rigid support for feet and ankles if they are the right size, buckled and laced up properly. This is because the wheels extend much further to the front and rear which helps balance a skater's forward and backward momentum. The long wheelbase with bigger, thinner wheels is also less sensitive to slight surface irregularities and cracks for outdoor activities. As long as the goal is simple local transportation, individual or group fun, low impact fitness or scenic outdoor skating activities, inlines may be easier to use and a lot more practical.

On the other hand, other new skaters may find that the wide wheelbase provided by traditional quad skates helps them overcome their side-to-side stability fears. There is a nice secure feeling when there is a flat platform under your feet. But, these skates have all of the wheels under the ball of the foot and under the heel with nothing projecting beyond the skate toe or heel, so there is not nearly as much front and back balance support or stability.

Choose the Skates You Are Comfortable With

If a beginner does not have a skating goal or skating discipline in mind, they can choose to learn in either traditional quad roller skates indoors or recreational inlines outdoors or indoors based on their own comfort zone. The beginner techniques for these are similar and transferrable to whatever skating sport they finally choose. Most roller rink skating classes allow both inline and roller skates in beginner classes.

Or Choose Skates to Match Your Interests

If tricks, stunts and other advanced maneuvers are the goal, traditional quads are designed to these things and will allow more freedom with less skill. Inline skate designs have come a long way, so almost anything is possible in them, but for a novice who does not own specialized inlines, one foot turns, spins some jumps will require special effort on a rigid inline frame compared to a traditional quad frame with cushions for "steering" built in.

Quad roller skates and rollerblades both require balance, strength and stamina. The perceived degree of difficulty will differ from person to person. If you know what you want to do - speed, aggressive, freestyle slalom, figure, etc. - go for the skate that fits your activity, and try not to worry about what's easier. The easiest one for you will be the one you're having the most fun doing.

The bottom line is, if your skating interests go beyond exercise and fun, the specific roller sport that interests you will determine which skates, the type of training and what additional gear you may need. Take a good look at many of the roller sports options available:

If you are not sure that your interests will be dedicated to any one of these specific skating styles, start by building a good foundation in recreational or fitness activities and training. Good basic skills will take you in any direction that you want to roll on either kind of skates. 

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