Want to compare and contrast inline skating vs roller skating so you can decide which is best? Wondering “should I get roller skates or inline skates?” Want to know the pros and cons of roller skates vs rollerblades? You’ve got questions and we have the ultimate guide!
Taking up a new sport can be intimidating and choosing the right type of skate can be expensive so we’ll help you decide which skate type is best based on your goals and personal interests.
Skating is an increasingly popular recreational activity that offers a wide range of aerobic benefits for people of all ages. From improving physical health, balance and coordination to providing a fun and social outlet, skating can be a rewarding pastime.
One of the major advantages of skating is the physical benefits it provides. Roller skating is a great form of cardiovascular exercise, as it helps to improve heart health and can burn up to 600 calories per hour.
It also strengthens muscles in the legs and core, improving balance and coordination. Roller skating can be a low-impact exercise option for people who may be unable to engage in more strenuous physical activities.
In addition to the physical benefits, skating also offers mental and emotional advantages. The social aspect of roller skating, whether skating with friends or joining a local skating club, can help improve mental health and provide a sense of community. Skating can also be a great stress-reliever and can boost mood and overall well-being.
Another advantage of skating is its accessibility and affordability. Skates are relatively inexpensive, and roller skating rinks only require a small fee. Skating can be enjoyed by people of all skill levels, from beginners to experienced skaters.
Many cities and towns have designated skating parks, paved routes or paths, providing an amazing FREE exercise outlet. Even if you don’t have something like this in your hometown there are almost limitless FREE to use skating spots if you know where to look.
Inline Skating VS Roller Skating
What’s the Difference Between Inline skating & Roller skating?
The main difference is inline skating involves a line of wheels and a single heel stop (brake) on the back of one skate (usually the right skate). The larger wheels make them ideal for higher speeds. Roller skates (or quad skates as they are also called) have two wheels in front and two wheels in the back with the toe stop placed at the front of each skate.
Inline skates have narrow, larger wheels and roller skates have wider but smaller wheels. The shape, position and size of the wheels plays a factor in speed and capability.
Positioning of the wheels also a key differences…but what you can accomplish with each skate type can vary. We’ll show you lots of possibilities for each skate type to help you decide your future skating path.
Both are great for recreational skating (indoor use or outdoor skating). Inline skating is better for longer distances and speed because of the larger wheel size. Inline skating is also a little bit better for rough surfaces or uneven surfaces (but a set of outdoor wheels on roller skates will help with this) .
Traditional roller skates are easier to learn on because they are easier to balance on. Young children all the way up to adults can more easily learn on quads. Depending on your personal goals one may be a better choice to start your skate journey on. You can move on to the other when you have more experience.
What we’ve discussed are just the visual differences of inline skating vs roller skating. Each kind of skate has it’s pros and cons…advantages and disadvantages. Some things are much easier to accomplish by roller skating and others are easier with inline skating.
From leisurely trips to the park to intense artistic competitions, there are SO many different things you can do with quad roller skates.
Thanks to the four, balanced ground contacts they’re perfect for new skaters. They have a reputation for indoor skating but they are also great for outdoor use.
One of the most popular activities for roller skaters is simply cruising around on a smooth surface, such as sidewalks and paved paths. Almost all skaters LOVE heading to the local indoor, climate controlled skating rink for a party-like disco atmosphere. It’s a fun way to burn your daily calories if you hate those FML gym workouts.
Another popular activity for roller skaters is jam skating. Roller skaters often perform intricate, pre-planned dance routines that mimic brake dancing & hip hop dance moves. These routines can be performed individually or more impressively in large groups. They often involve a combination of footwork, spins, and seemingly impossible skate skills. You’ll need a pair of jam skates to get started. You can watch a video of some of the impressive moves below,
For those who enjoy a little competition, roller skating offers a variety of options like roller derby or skate races.
Roller derby is a contact sport that involves two teams of roller skaters competing against each other on an oval track. Each team has a designated “jammer” who tries to score points by lap skaters on the other team. The other team members, known as “blockers,” try to stop the jammer from scoring while also helping their own jammer score. Roller derby is known for its high-energy, fast-paced action and is often played to loud music and a roaring crowd. It is a popular sport among roller skaters. There is a well composed short documentary on derby life featuring the ladies of Denver Roller Dolls. Warning…you may be TOTALLY HOOKED after watching!
Roller skate racing (speed skating) exists for quad skaters but has largely been replaced with competitive inline skating races (which we’ll talk more about later). Almost every skating rink offers a skating race competition during each session to get your fill but there isn’t much of a competitive quad skating scene because inline skating is SO much faster. If you crave speed, speed and more speed…inline skating is probably better option. You can make your quads pretty fast with components made for speed…but you may not find an outlet to race with them.
Competitive artistic skating is a form of roller skating in which skaters develop a patterned routine (usually with the help of an experienced coach) and compete against each other to perform various jumps, spins, and patterns to impress a panel of judges and earn points. Almost anything that is attempted in Olympic level ice skating can be attempted on quad rollers skates (such as axels, salchows, & lutz). AND IT IS IMPRESSIVE. Check out a sample routine below:
This type of roller skating can be done individually or in pairs. Skaters are typically judged on factors such as technical skill, artistry and overall performance. The skater with the highest score is declared the winner. Competitive roller skating can be a time demanding and physically demanding sport. Most competitive skaters train for many hours each day to perfect their skills and routines for organized competitions.
If this is your ultimate skate path you will need a stiff, specialized skate boot and unique components.
Park skating (roller skating at a skate park) is another option for roller skaters. A roller skater can use a skate park in many different ways, depending on their skill level and personal preferences. Some common ways that skaters can use skate parks include:
- Skating different ramps, rails, and other features in the park to perform tricks and stunts.
- Practicing and perfecting their skills on specific elements of the park, such as a half-pipe or a quarter-pipe.
- Using the park as a place to socialize, hang out and make friends with other skaters.
To use a skate park, a skater generally needs to have a special slide blocks and possibly wider trucks for their roller skates. Protective gear, such as a helmet, wrist guards, knee pads and elbow pads are absolutely necessary. Want to see what it looks like…and everything that is possible? Check out the video below!
If you’ve seen enough and you’re ready to get started with your first pair of roller skates be sure to check out our Best Roller Skates For Beginners article that will help you pick out a safe, quality pair of skates to get started today!
Still want to see what inline skating has to offer? Let’s check it out!
It may surprise you to hear that almost everything you can do on roller skates, can also be done on roller blades. Much of what we’ve discussed above with roller skating is also possible on inline skates including jam skating, artistic skating, skating racing, park/vert skating and cruising around for fitness & fun.
One of the most popular activities for inline skaters is simply cruising around paved paths, sidewalks or heading to the local indoor, roller rink for a fun party-like atmosphere. Many people use inline skating for “legs day” in place of a gym workout. It’s a fantastic calorie burner and tones leg muscles quickly. Head over HERE to learn more about the fitness & health benefits of skating.
Competitive artistic skating is also possible with a specially designed pair of inline skates (which resemble ice skates). Artistic inline skating is where a skater develops a patterned skating routine to music (usually with the help of an experienced skating coach) and then competes by performing various jumps, spins, and patterns to impress a panel of judges and earn points.
Almost anything that is attempted in Olympic level ice skating can be attempted on inline skates (such as axels, salchows, & lutz). Check out a sample routine below…this will blow your mind!
Park, Street & Vert Aggressive Inline Skating is another option for inline skaters. The possibilities are endless…almost anything that can be done with a skateboard can be done on inline skates too. Using elements of a skate park, a paved public street, public park and HUGE vertical ramps/half pipes. There are competitions all over the world where inline skating is more popular than the US. You really have to see it all for yourself to appreciate it. Let’s check out some killer vids of agro inline skaters at work.
Before you attempt ANY of this make sure that you have protective gear, such as a helmet and pads. Falling is a part of the learning process so be ready when it happens.
Inline skate racing (or speed skating) is perfect for those who just crave straight line speed. This is a world wide competitive sport with many top athletes eventually transitioning to Olympic level speed skating (ice speed skaters). Specialized skates are required at these levels but you can start anywhere and build to any level. To get started, you’ll need a decent pair of speed skates and a coach.
Roller Hockey is one of the more popular sports in the skating community. Many local indoor roller rinks have a roller hockey league that you can join. Roller hockey is not for an absolute beginner but when you can skate fast backwards, forwards, turn quickly, skate long distances (endurance) and handle a stick and puck you might want to try out for it. It’s a world wide competitive sport and you can see it in action below:
Inline Skating: Pros vs Cons
Inline skates are built with speed and covering long distances in mind. It’s a great way to learn skate part tricks, artistic skating, pick up roller hockey, compete in speed skating or recreate on a paved trail. They’re also perfect for people who love team or individual competition.
Unfortunately, most everyone I know (myself included) finds inline skating much harder to master than traditional, quad roller skates. Balancing is much harder, the boots can be large and cumbersome (feet tangling is a real problem) and the sport is shrinking in popularity unfortunately (while roller skating is seeing a resurgence in popularity) . It can be harder to find a place to even try on a pair of inline skates let alone fine components to customize your skates.
ROLLER Skating: Pros vs Cons
Roller skates are built with style and beauty mind. It’s a fun way to keep in shape at the local indoor rink, jam skate, take up roller derby, hit the skate park or recreate on a beach boardwalk.
The possibilities are almost endless and roller skating is surging in popularity. Skates and components are easy to find and customize. Right now a new generation of skaters is picking up the sport and it’s in a growth phase.
Roller skating is inherently easier to learn due to the design of the skate. With four wheels equally spaced and planted on the ground you’ll find balancing so much easier and mastering roller skating so much faster.
Roller skates are not really built for speed which can make them somewhat limiting for the speed freaks among us. You can purchase speed skate quads which help a bit but won’t give you the straight line speed that inline skates have.
Inline Skating vs. Roller Skating: Which is Best for YOU?
So now that you’ve seen all the possibilities how do you choose what is best for you? Much of it comes down to personal preference and goals. What do you WANT to do with your skating? What will you have the most fun doing?
You’ve gotta start asking yourself some questions.
Are you looking for a fun way to stay in shape & get outside more?
Recreational fitness skating can mean speeding down a paved trail with a pair of rollerblades OR casually cruising along the beach boardwalk with a pair of quads.
Have you always dreamed of doing tricks at a skate park?
Park skating can be done on inline skates or quads but inline skates can offer more variety of tricks and competitive outlets.
Does competing in the Olympics sound like a long term goal?
Learning to speed skate on inline skates and transitioning to ice skates may be your skate path to the winter Olympics (that’s how Apollo Ono did it!).
Do you want to make friends and join a fun, team like atmosphere?
Sounds like you need to grab a pair of quads and join a roller derby team at your local rink…or grab some hockey inline skates and try out for the local roller hockey team.
inline skating vs roller skating FAQ
Is it easier to roller skate or inline skate?
Roller skating is easier to learn. There are a few things that make roller skates more suitable than inline skates for beginners. First, they have a semi flexible roller skate boot & eight, equally spaced wheels that make balancing a heck of a lot easier than inline skates…this is a sport where balance is everything.
Roller skates are more compact and less cumbersome than inline skate boots. As an added bonus, there is a larger roller skate community to grow and learn from. Regular practice is key…if you’re ready to get started you might want to check out our FREE 30 Day Skate Challenge to improve your skills quickly.
Roller skating vs Inline Skating…which is the better workout?
Roller skating and inline skating are equally both a fun an excellent workout burning 500-600 calories an hour. As someone who does both there really isn’t a caloric advantage to doing one over the other.
The only caloric advantage is possibly skating outdoors on pavement (which is harder than skating on a smooth roller rink surface) which does burn more calories. Like anything else in life…you get out of it what you put into it. Pushing harder means more calories are burned. Lower and slower means less calories burned.
I hope you’ve found our inline skating vs roller skating ultimate guide helpful in deciding a skating path for you. Remember, there is no wrong answer…the important thing is to START somewhere now!