A lot of parents choose cheap skates when they introduce children to roller sports – they will just grow out of them after all. Many kids are introduced to inline skating on a variety of slow-moving plastic inline skates and quads with vinyl boots that are available at retail chains, sporting goods or online stores that are cute skating gifts. These are fine, if your child is not in a learn-to-skate training program or does not spend any time skating with others who are wearing "real" skates. But you should move your child into inline skates or roller that provide support and good roll as soon as social skating with friends or skating lessons start. Even pre-schoolers will want to keep up with their friends or classmates.
And, if you’re planning on making inline skating or roller sports a family adventure, please be fair to the smaller kids in the group. They may have more energy than you, but since they are considerably smaller, skating is hard work in starter skates. Don’t purchase new or used inline skates for yourself that are much better than the equipment you get for the younger skaters. This will force the little ones to work twice as hard to get half the distance or speed on group outings.
In fact, you should check all family members' skates for similar features, especially if you plan on rolling together, so that everyone is using the same amount of effort to cover the trail distance, do the roller sports activity or skate as a family in a group class. An overworked and poorly-fitted small skater, sibling or spouse is never a happy skater. Many family skating outings have deteriorated from quality time to quitting time, when the little ones use inline skates that are merely toys that offer no support to little ankles or feet and with wheels that slip on indoor surfaces, ride rough on outdoor surfaces and don’t roll freely on any surface. Older skaters will eventually know what to complain about to resolve their skate technical problems, but your little skater will just assume that they can't skate or that they don't like doing these activities.
Look for these features when buying skates for kids who will skate regularly:
- Use the same care in checking for worn, broken or missing parts that you would use if buying for yourself.
- Children's wheels should spin freely, just like adult inline skates. If there is a need to slow the rotation of inline wheels for a very young skater, temporarily tighten the wheel a bit to restrict movement.
- Remember that a kid'small feet deserve a comfortable skate lining and need a good fit, too.
- Consider purchasing adjustable inline skates which will allow a child to grow through a few sizes while still providing reasonable support and features for skating activities.
- If you are ordering children's skates that are not adjustable, buy one size larger than their current comfortable shoe size to allow for future growth. Add an extra insole layer to improve the fit until the foot grows into the extra size.
- Remember to get new protective gear (helmet, wrist guards, knee pads).
Inline skating and roller sports offer many good activities across a variety of disciplines for children who have or want to build balance skills, but be sure to match skates and gear to your child's skating needs. Every kid deserves to skate in suitable equipment - especially if he or she will participate in group skating activities and may need to try to keep up with other skaters. Just remember that buying inline skates for younger, growing children is just as important as purchasing equipment for teens or adult skaters.