If you’re reading this- you’re finally ready to learn how to get good at roller skating. Maybe you’re sick of your friends speeding past while you hang on for dear life or maybe you’ve admired the skill level of more experienced skaters at the local indoor rink.
In any case we’re glad you’re here and you’re ready to buckle down and learn how to get good at roller skating.
We’ll break down how you can quickly get better at roller skating with pro tips, where to practice, what gear to wear, how to learn the foundations of roller skating, how to roller skate safely, and everything in between!
Roller skating can become a life long, 100% beneficial hobby. It’s a fun way to get a good workout and a really fun form of exercise. It’s a full-body workout that works EVERYTHING when you are using good technique.
The upper body, core, glutes, inner thighs, hamstrings & calf muscles will get a workout EVERY skate session. It’s also a great way to shed body weight over time. The best part is that even a complete beginner can master the basics quickly and move onto new tricks with our help.
How to Get Good at Roller Skating:
Dump Your Rentals & Invest in a Pair of Beginner Skates ASAP
If you’re ready to go all in on roller skating, the first thing you gotta do is ditch the painful rental skates and get your own pair of skates.
Rental skates are a poor reference for how your own skates will look and feel. One of the biggest reasons why people hesitate to go all in on roller skating is how uncomfortable their rental skates feel on their feet. So, let’s bypass all of that discomfort and get you in a pair of skates that are right for you!
The biggest benefit of having your own skates is that you get a consistently comfortable experience every time you skate. Compared to the unpredictable fit and feel of rental skates, your own skates will make your learning experience way more fun.
There’s also the added convenience of being able to jump into your skates and practice whenever and wherever you want! It really is the best way to see an immediate improvement in your skating.
Roller skates have come a LONG way in the past decade with customization options (mostly due to the Moxi Skates craze) that far exceed what was available in my skating youth. Just check out some of what your fellow skaters have assembled to personalize their skates!
There’s no need to break the bank on your first pair of roller skates. Find a good pair of quad skates that suits your style and fit your feet (snug but not toe crushing) and you’re ready to learn how to get good at roller skating.
Check out our Best Skates For Beginners article to see our recommendations for a good pair of skates. We talk about indoor skates, outdoor skates, softer wheels, harder wheels, skates for women and men and all the things you should take into account to find the right skate for you.
Get the Proper Protective Equipment & Eliminate the Fear of Falling
Like any skill (especially for first time skaters), there will be bumps and bruises on the road towards becoming a good skater.
Before totally shredding the asphalt in your flashy new skates it’s important to invest in quality safety equipment. Whether you’re a roller skater or inline skater you’ve got to protect yourself!
Don’t know what to get? No worries! We know the best stuff! Safety equipment has come a long way over the past decade & looks better than ever. You can find a variety of colors and styles to suit just about any style.
In order to safely learn how to skate you’ll need to pick up some protective gear. We personally use and trust the following pads.
- Triple 8 or Moxi Skates Elbow pads, knee pads & wrist guards for Women
- Pro Tec elbow pads| knee pads & Pro Tec wrist guards for Men
- Triple 8 helmet for Women
- Pro Tec helmet for Men
- Padded shorts (optional)
You can usually find the elbow, knee pads and wrist guards in one package for new skaters so be sure to keep an eye out for that as it should save you a little bit of cash.
The padded shorts are optional (and in truth, not the most flattering) but they act as extra safety in the case that you end up on your butt a couple times in the early stages of learning.
The most important piece of gear you need to pick up is your helmet. Again, we’re not asking you to break the bank with any of this equipment but be a little bit picky with what helmet you buy.
Like your skates, you want your helmet to be comfortable but tight enough that the helmet isn’t sliding around on your head. Keep your chin strap tightened.
Hopefully if you’re following our how-to guide you won’t be spending too much time on the deck, but it’s still crucial that your noodle is protected in a properly fitting helmet. Once you’ve got all your safety gear, you’re ready to get into the fun part: how to learn to roller skate!
Consistent Practice is The Key!
Practice. Practice. And guess what? A lot of practice! Great skaters practice a few times a week so if you want to be great you need to practice too!
If you really want to learn how to skate good, you should get used to strapping on those skates at least 3 times per week for 30 minutes of focused practice. This is in addition to a longer skate session at your local skating rink.
Your whole session doesn’t have to be extremely focused and intense? Try for 20 minutes of focused skill work and then use the last 10 minutes to play around and enjoy the feel of being on skates.
It’s important to keep it fun so that you’ll look forward to consistently lacing up and working to master the fundamentals of roller skating (and then move on to the next level). Too much intensity for too long will lead to sore muscles (especially when your a beginning skater).
Start off with a shorter duration skate session and add a little time to it as you become more comfortable and your muscles adjust to this new activity.
If you want a consistent, skills based approach to becoming a better skater you might want to check out our 30 Days to Better Skating Challenge. It’s a self guided 30 day challenge with FREE printables to guide you through practice & skill building. You can learn more about this challenge and grab all the FREE printables HERE.
Places to Practice that AREN’T The Skating Rink
Maybe you want to practice in solitude. Or maybe you need a soft spot to fall. Or maybe it’s just a long trek to get to the roller rink. Whatever the reason, there are tons of places you can practice your skating that AREN’T the rink.
The best part? They cost you nothing to use!
If you’re looking for a safe place where you can mess up all you want without embarrassing yourself in front of others, look no further then your basement or garage! While it may be a small space, if you have smooth surfaces it’s the perfect place to work on your balance and get a feel for your skates.
Looking for a place to practice falling? All you need is a green space! Practicing on grass allows you to be confident that you can practice falling without getting hurt, while also being able to skate around without fear of picking up too much speed. Make sure you pick a spot where the grass is cut semi-regularly so your skates can roll through the grass.
There are so many options to pick from when searching for an open space to practice. Parking garages, parking lots, outdoor courts and skate parks are all great options to use for skating when you don’t want to trek all the way to the rink. If you need some ideas for best places to practice skating check out our huge list HERE.
It’s a good idea to try a few different places until you have a handle on which best suits your needs and are low traffic enough that you won’t have to spend your time weaving in and out of large crowds.
Build The Foundations Of Good Skating:
We all want to be the skater who can whirl, twirl, twist and glide their way across the rink, all while weaving in and out of the newbies who are hanging on for dear life.
But guess what? EVERYONE was a newbie at some point! Before the whirling and twirling, we all had to master the basics of balance, stopping, and even just getting a handle on the ready position. It’s all about the basics!
Stretching & Skate Boot Warm-up (Yeah…it’s a thing!)
First step! Start with simple routine would be 4-5 minutes of dynamic stretching, especially for the lower body, followed by 5-10 minutes of easy skating. Starting off slow allows you to get some blood flowing towards your working muscles and better prepares you for the more dynamic moves like accelerating and turning.
Of course, there’s a safety aspect to this too. Warming up allows your body to prepare for the demands of the activity and the more prepared you are, the lower chance you’ll run into things like sprains and strains.
Warm up time also gives your roller skate boot a chance to warm up. Your feet literally heat up the skate boot and the boot will become more flexible (and more comfortable) for your skate session.
Post skate, it’s always a good idea to do a couple easy laps to let your body cool down and then run yourself through another 4-5 minute light stretching routine.
Work on Balancing & New Skills On the Grass or Carpet
If you’re still in the early days of learning, it’s never a bad idea to spend some time getting used to the feel of your skates on a friendly surface. The grass or carpet in your house are both good options as they allow you to practice your balance and simple skills without fear of going too fast or landing on a hard surface.
Learning Proper Body Position (The Ready Position)
Think of the “ready position” as the foundation off which all good skating comes from. The roller skating proper stance is the first skill to master. This is the foundation for the more advanced movements in roller skating. It’s also the position you’ll return to after a slip or slight loss in balance and it’ll allow to get your balance/bearings before diving back into practice.
Again, roller skating is like any sport in that we don’t want our body to be upright and rigid. With your feet around shoulder width apart, bend your knees till they are out over your toes. This lowers your center of gravity (bringing you lower to the ground). You should feel more stable in this position than if you were standing upright with knees locked. Keep those legs bent…loose…ready to react to anything. Locked knees won’t allow you to quickly react and can cause a fall.
Bent at the Waist
To make the ready position even more athletic, next sit your hips down and bend over slightly at the waist. This allows for more stability and puts you in a good position to accelerate and make quick turns.
You should also feel your weight shift towards the ball of your foot rather than back on your heels. This will give you greater balance and reduce the chance of falling backwards on to your butt.
Arms Out & Ready for anything (like a fall)
This comes back to balance and stability. Our arms can help to establish our ready position after a slip so we don’t want them relaxing down by our sides; that’s basically asking for trouble! Raise your arms up slightly to the side and actively involve them in searching out a stable position. On the odd chance you happen to hit the deck, it’s helpful to have your arms out to help break that fall. How should I fall you ask? Let’s break it down!
How to fall
Let’s face it: Even the best skaters hit the ground sometimes. Falling while skating is not a question of if, but when. If everyone is bound to hit the deck at some point, then don’t you think it would be a good idea to know how to fall? You bet it is! Let’s break down everything you need to know in order to fall safely and ensure all your body parts remain intact.
The fear of falling can seriously impact your ability to get loose and enjoy your skate. One of the best ways to help deal with this fear is to strap on the trusty wrist guards and knee pads and head out on to the grass. Practicing falling on the grass is helpful as you get a sense of what it is like to fall, but without having to bang your joints repeatedly off a hard surface. Here’s a simple drill you can perform to get a sense of what it feels like to fall:
- Get in the ready position (bent knees, slight bend at hips, feet around shoulder width apart)
- Allow your weight to shift forward and roll over your front wheels and toe stop
- Reach out for the ground in front of you and fall forward on your hands and knees
You should feel how well protected your knees and wrists are by the padding and while different surfaces will create a different type of impact, you can still trust that your knees and wrists will be just as protected on pavement as they are on grass.
The same drill will work for practicing falling backwards, with a few modifications:
- Get in the ready position
- Let your weight fall back in your heels
- As you fall backwards, aim to contact the ground on one side and roll if possible. Practicing this can help you avoid wrist sprains or injuries in the future.
When falling backwards, you want to do your best to land to one side as landing directly on your tailbone will cause a jolt through your whole body (trust me, it is not pleasant) and carries a greater risk of injury.
Falling towards one side of your butt allows your big glute muscles to absorb the impact of the fall more safely than hitting on your tailbone.
If you can help it, falling forwards is preferred to falling backwards as it’s easier to control your fall with your hands and avoid a potential head injury. If you’re skating properly with your knees bent and weight on the balls of your feet then most backwards falls can be avoided. But hey, skating is chaotic sometimes so better to be prepared (with a helmet) just in case!
The final point about falling is to make sure you use your arms to help control your landing. When falling forwards or backwards, try to land with a bent elbow as it better allows you to absorb the force of the landing and saves you from running into both wrist and elbow injuries. Honestly, the best advice we can give you is this: don’t fear falling, just be prepared for it!
How to Stop
Once you get going, it’s probably a good idea to know how to stop! We have two basic methods of stopping: the plow stop and the toe stop.
In the plow stop, you assume the ready position with your knees bent. Allow your legs to roll/spread wide, squat your hips down and drive your weight into your toes. This will result in a gradual slowing of speed and then a complete stop.
The toe stop on the other hand will allow you to stop just that little bit quicker. From the ready position, shift your weight towards one side/leg and drag your back leg and foot behind you while driving your toe stop into the ground. This video explains both methods in detail:
How to Glide
Now it’s time to talk skating forwards. You can easily glide in the ready position, but you need to build up some speed first. To generate speed, you simply need to practice pushing off one foot.
In the ready position, lean/shift your bodyweight over to one skate, keeping your posture tall and straight, then push the ground away with your other skate.
From here you just alternate pushing and shifting your bodyweight back and forth. Once you’ve built some speed, you can just come back into the ready position and glide with your momentum. This video details how to build up speed:
If you’ve really got two-footed gliding down, you can begin experimenting with one-footed gliding. Once you have momentum going forward, lean/shift your weight towards one leg and lean forward slightly so your chin is in line over your toes.
Now that your weight is shifted forward and to one side, you can lift your other leg slightly off the ground. As you get better you can experiment with reaching back and grabbing your leg with your hand but be careful not to get too flashy too quick! Here’s a video demonstrating gliding on one leg:
How to Turn
Like most roller skating skills, turning comes down to controlling your bodyweight and having good control on the edges of your skates. To make turns, shift your bodyweight over one foot, keep bent knees and good posture, lean into the outside edge of that skate and then use your outside foot to push straight out and away to get you around the turn. Check out this video showing how it looks:
How to do Crossovers
The crossover is another way of turning and although it’s more challenging, it is the smoothest way to cruise around those turns at the rink and the sign of an accomplished skater.
It may take some time to learn but don’t be discouraged, we’ve all been there! This skill requires the edges of your skates, balance, and full body control. We can’t emphasize enough how much practice is key here.
Besides actually learning the skill, you also need to develop trust in your ability to pick your skates up and then put them back down on the ground while on one foot…in constant motion. It can be intimidating at first but good skaters pick this up pretty quickly. This video breaks it down perfectly:
How to Skate Backwards
Now that we’ve nailed down the skills to help you skate forwards, let’s take about backwards skating. You can get away with not knowing this skill at the start, but eventually all skaters learn how to get good at roller skating backwards.
To start, assume the ready position and make sure your weight is over the balls of your foot (remember! Weight in the heels going backwards= disaster). To really get backwards skating down you need to learn how to make scissor motions with your skates first before we talk about pushing off alternating skates. Here’s another good breakdown that takes you through both steps:
How to Take Your Skating to The Next Level:
Film Yourself Using Your Phone
Sometimes you just need to see yourself skating to make the skills click. If you’re struggling to master one of the above skills, taking a video of yourself can help you see where you might be going wrong.
Film from different angles (front, back, side) to make sure you have the full picture and once you have the footage, try and break down where you’re going wrong. Don’t be camera shy! This is an easy and cheap way to get feedback on how you’re progressing with your skating skills.
Make Some Roller Skating Friends IRL or the Internet
You know what else makes roller skating great? The community is AWESOME! If you need help with your skills or finding a place to skate, all you have to do is ask!
People in this community are only too eager to help. You can connect with other skaters at the rink, local skating hub, or online through social media. Reddit it is a great place to start if you’re looking to connect with other roller skating enthusiasts. Here are some communities you might like to join:
Learn from Advanced Skaters
While connecting with more experienced skaters in person is a great way to learn new skills, you can also go online and find tons of valuable skating knowledge. YouTube is a great place to start as there are many quality channels where experienced skaters demonstrate advanced skills such as skating backwards and crossovers. Below are some of the channels we know and trust to teach you some of the next level skills:
Dirty School of Skate on YouTube:
Howcast on YouTube:
SkateHut on YouTube:
Final Thoughts on Learning to Roller Skate
You came here because you wanted to know how to learn to roller skate like a boss. Now that you have all the information you need to learn how to get good at roller skating, what’s the next step? Just starting!
Grab your skates and your safety gear, find a place to practice and just start skating! We’ve broken down what gear you need, places to skate, what skills to master, and how to connect with fellow skaters.
You have all the tools, now it’s time to lace up and put them into action. Once you master the basics you’ll be free to move on to other things like roller derby, inline skating, outdoor skating at the skate park or jam skating to name a few. Stay safe, stay cool, and most importantly, have fun learning how to skate!