Is roller skating hard to learn? Can anyone learn how to roller skate at any age? Maybe you’ve come from your first trip to the roller rink on rental skates and you REALLY, REALLY want to learn how to roller skate. But first you probably want to know…is roller skating hard?
Roller skating is a fun and calorie incinerating workout that exists within a body positive & inclusive community….so I can see why you want to learn more about it and possibly take the first steps towards learning how to roller skate. But first, let’s answer your question…
Is roller skating Hard?
In my humble opinion roller skating is not hard to learn if you are willing to commit to purchasing your own roller roller skates (not using crummy rental skates), learning the basics & practicing regularly (at least weekly). Most people can learn the basics relatively quickly. Factors such as age, physical fitness, balance, and prior experience with similar activities can really influence the learning curve.
It’s important to remember that everyone progresses at their own pace, and with the 3 P’s (patience, practice & persistence) and a “I can do this!” attitude, roller skating can be an enjoyable and rewarding activity for people of all ages and skill levels. You can even lose some weight while roller skating!
So let’s dive a little deeper here and talk about what you can expect, tips, tricks, things to know and how aspiring new skaters can get started.
Factors That Affect the Learning Curve
First, let’s talk about what could make roller skating easier or harder for you. Age and physical fitness play a role, but don’t worry, roller skating is for all ages! Whether you’re in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s or 50’s you can learn how to roller skate if you’re committed to learning.
Balance and coordination are crucial, but these skills can be developed over time as your learn the foundations and basics of roller skating. If you have previous experience in other balance sports like ice skating or downhill skiing you might find roller skating easier to learn.
Basic Skills and Techniques for New Skaters
The first step is getting the right gear. Invest in a good pair of skates (I like these beginner roller skates). Rental skates are poorly maintained, have terrible ankle support and you won’t get a consistent experience from one pair to another.
If you’re serious about learning how to roller skate you absolutely need your own pair of good, beginner skates that you can practice with at home any time you need to. You can see a list of our beginner roller skate recommendations HERE.
Any beginner quad roller skates you choose should have good ankle support, metal trucks, wheels rated for the type of skating you plan on doing (indoor skating or outdoor skating) and toe stops.
Make sure you roller skates fit appropriately & comfortably and you have all the necessary protective gear to protect yourself from serious injuries like a helmet, elbow pads, wrist guards, knee pads & even crash pants might be a good idea. We have an exhaustive list of comfortable & stylish protective gear HERE.
Once you’re all geared up, practice the correct skating position on the carpet in your home. This means knees bent, slightly bent at the waist feet shoulder-width apart, arms out and ready and your weight centered. See the picture below.
When you have the correct skating stance learned, you’ll want to try it with your skates (on the carpet or in the grass so you don’t fall or roll unexpected). This is THE foundation for everything that you do in roller skating so learn it and get the muscle memory down!
When you’re ready you can move to a smooth surface like your kitchen floor or a smooth outdoor space like tennis courts, basketball courts or empty parking lots. Just make sure it’s a flat surface!
Next, start by pushing off gently and gliding on one foot. Then switch to the other foot and glide. No matter what…always wear protective gear!
It might feel strange at first, but with practice, you’ll soon find your rhythm. Here are some of the skills new roller skaters should focus on:
-Correct skating stance
-Skating in a straight line
Remember, falling is part of the learning process, so learn to fall safely. If you want a systematic approach to working on your skills you might want to check out our Better in 30 Days Skate Challenge FREE Printables.
Tips for Making Roller Skating Easier to Learn
I can’t stress this enough… consistency is key! Practice regularly…ideally a few times a week but if you can’t manage that try for once a week. Make it fun, head to your local rink or grab some friends who are also interested in learning.
Be patient with yourself, and set realistic goals. There are a ton of really good Youtube videos to help you get started at home (I personally like Dirty Debbie’s School of Skate videos).
If you can, learn from experienced skaters at the roller rink or take a few lessons to speed up your progress. Don’t be afraid to try skating outdoors (always wear your safety gear). And most importantly, focus on developing that all important muscle memory, as it will make everything feel more natural.
Practice on smooth surfaces and avoid uneven surfaces (you don’t want to make learning harder than it has to be). There are lots of places to skate in your neighborhood so start there or the local roller rink.
Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Many skaters have a major fear of falling. The fear of falling is totally normal, but keep in mind that with the right safety gear and falling techniques, you’ll soon gain confidence and limit the chance of injuries.
Balance can be tricky…there is a lot of muscle memory involved that takes a little bit of time to learn. When you’re not skating, work on strengthening your core and leg muscles at the gym.
Some first time skaters are really surprised by the amount of endurance that roller skating requires. You may find that your first few sessions leave you winded & exhausted.
It requires a fair amount of cardiovascular endurance to roller skate. Don’t worry, you’ll build upon each session and increase your endurance with each week that passes. Start with small 20 minute sessions and build up from there.
If you’re struggling with any of the essential skills, ask for tips from fellow skaters or watch tutorials online.
It’s really important to master the basics before you move on to another skill level. I have students who can barely skate forwards asking me to teach them how to skate backwards. Get comfortable with the foundations before moving on to new skills.
Different Styles of Roller Skating
Once you get the hang of the basics, you can explore various roller skating styles. There is a WHOLE roller skating world to explore…let’s talk about them briefly.
With a focus on fun and relaxation, recreational roller skating encompasses a wide range of activities and styles that cater to skaters of all ages and skill levels. The primary goal of recreational roller skating is to have fun, get some exercise, and enjoy the experience. It’s often a social affair that involves hanging out with other skaters. Here are some examples of recreational skating:
-Skating longer distances on paved outdoor trails for fitness
-Skating at the local roller skating rink
-Practicing or honing your skills at local, outdoor skating spots
Artistic or Competitive Roller Skating
Artistic roller skating is a competitive form of roller skating that combines elements of dance, gymnastics, and figure skating. It’s performed on specialized artistic quad skates to showcase technical skills and athleticism with choreographed routines set to music.
This competitive area of roller skating has quite a few categories, such as singles, pairs, and group performances, as well as dance and freestyle events. Skaters perform intricate footwork, jumps, spins, and lifts. Artistic roller skating competitions take place at the regional, national, and international levels.
This isn’t something you could learn completely on your own. You’d need to train with a competitive artistic skating coach and have lots of lessons.
This is for all you adrenaline junkies! Roller derby is a high energy, full contact sport played on quad roller skates built for speed and cornering. Two teams race around an oval track in a eye popping display of speed, strategy, and physical domination.
Each team has five players on the track at a time, consisting of one jammer and four blockers. The jammer’s role is to score points by lapping the opposing team’s blockers, while the blockers work together to impede the opposing jammer and assist their own jammer in passing the opposition.
Roller derby is intense, fast-paced and action packed. If you have an aversion to pain or large bruises this may not be for you.
If you love camaraderie and empowerment this sport is inclusive and diverse, embracing players of various skill levels, backgrounds, and genders, fostering a unique and supportive community.
Jam skating (also known as dance or rhythm skating) combines roller skating with dance and gymnastic moves. Jam skaters often perform choreographed routines with other groups of skaters OR improvise to the musical beat, making it a fun and creative way to enjoy recreational roller skating.
Offers a slightly different experience altogether. Inline skating (also known as rollerblading), involves wearing skates with a single line of wheels and a single heel brake. The big wheels of inline skates make them a smoother ride, built for speed & skating longer distances. Once you know how to inline skate you can transition to competitive speed skating, roller hockey or aggressive skate park skating.
The learning process for inline skating is a little different but once you know how to skate this won’t be a far departure from what you’ve already learned.
Skate Park or Agressive Skating
Roller skating (or inline skating) at a skate park is an exhilarating way to get your kicks and showcase your skills while navigating various obstacles and terrain features. Skate parks are purpose-built spaces with ramps, rails, bowls, and ledges designed for performing tricks, jumps, grinds, and aerial maneuvers.
Skateparks usually dominated by skateboarders but roller skaters and inline skaters been on the scene for a few decades now. You will potentially need upgrades to your skates before you can get really serious but just know it’s another avenue you can roll down in the future!
Almost ALL Olympic speed skaters got their start by competing in speed skates at at their local roller rink (and you can too). After you learn the basics you can start working with a coach and training for speed trials. You’ll need specialized speed skates (which are all big wheel inline these days).
Wow, that’s a a lot! Keep in mind that some of these skating disciplines require different types of roller skates or specialized components.
Benefits of Roller Skating
Besides being an absolute blast, roller skating offers numerous physical and mental health benefits. It’s a great way to socialize and be part of a body positive, inclusive community. It’s a fun way to get an amazing, full-body workout every time you skate. You can loose weight and gain muscle…all while having fun. What’s not to love?
FAQs: Is Roller Skating Hard?
Is it harder to rollerblade or roller skate?
When you’re a beginner skater I think it’s harder to learn how to rollerblade than roller skate. Roller skates will give you 8 points planted on the ground which makes them more stable. This allows you to learn and balance more easily.
Rollerblades only give you two points planted on the ground. I find braking is more natural on traditional roller skates than the single rear brake on rollerblades. I’d much prefer that a beginner to learn how to roller skate and later transition to rollerblades.
Ultimately, you could learn either out of the gate. The best way to determine which one is easier for you is to try both and see which one feels more comfortable and enjoyable. With practice most people can become proficient at either type of skating, regardless of the initial learning curve.
What the difference between Learning on roller skates & Learning on inline skates?
Roller skating and inline skating are two distinct skating disciplines. They can take you down two separate paths in your skating career as each caters to different preferences or styles of skating.
Roller skates are a better choice roller derby, artistic skating, and jam or dance-focused skating styles. They’re easier to learn on as a beginner (and for people who don’t have good balance) and can transition to a lot of other skating disciplines.
Roller blades are designed for higher speeds, long distances, agility, and a smoother ride, making inline skates great for activities like fitness skating, speed skating, roller hockey, and aggressive skating in skate parks. If you know ice skates…you know inline skates.
While both roller and inline skating can be enjoyed recreationally, each type has its own learning curve, techniques, and disciplines, offering diverse experiences and opportunities for skaters to explore. If you’re looking for more specific advice on how to decide between inline skates or roller skates, head over HERE.
Can I learn skating in my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s or 50’s?
Assuming that you are healthy enough to do so you can learn how to skate at just about any age. I know roller skaters in their 70’s still out there on the skate floor. Roller skating (once you’ve mastered it) is a low impact activity that you can do well into your golden years. Make sure you always wear the proper equipment (like safety gear).
What’s the difference between Indoor Skates & Outdoor Skates?
Generally speaking the differences come down to the roller skate boot material & wheels. Boots that are easy to clean and more durable are geared for the outdoors (think vegan leather, leather & synthetic materials).
Wheels are rated as either outdoor use or indoor use and that is determined by the durometer rating. These days, many skates come stock with outdoor wheels. You can purchase a separate set of indoor wheels when needed.
Outdoor wheels are larger wheels and softer wheels. This is so they can cover larger distances with less work on your part AND absorb all the lumps and bumps you encounter when skating outdoors.
Indoor wheels are smaller wheels and harder wheels. This is so you can maneuver and turn easily and gain some valuable speed benefits at the local rink.
So, is roller skating hard to learn? It can be challenging at first for beginner skaters, but with determination and practice, you’ll soon be a pro. My advice? Give it a try, enjoy the process, and welcome to the wonderful world of roller skating!