Whether old or young: Inline skates are very trendy. Riding on four rollers not only makes you feel good, it also promotes physical fitness. In Germany alone, almost a million people regularly practice this popular sport – and the trend is rising.
Roller skates, which were patented in 1863, were pioneers of inline skates. The main difference lies in the arrangement of the wheels: while the classic roller skates have two wheels next to each other, the inliners have them arranged one behind the other (i.e. lengthways, hence the derived name from the English “in-line”). Due to the increasing interest in the trend sport, there are now many different models, for example inline skates with soft or hard shoes, large or small wheels. This article summarizes what the different variants mean, which accessories are important for novice drivers and how you can learn to ride inline skates in no time at all.
This is where inline skates differ
There is now a large selection of inline skates from well-known manufacturers such as K2, Rollerblade, USD and power slidewhich differ from each other as follows:
- Hardboot Skates: Translated, the term “hard boot” simply means: hard shoes. Corresponding models with a high shaft offer the feet a particularly firm hold, which is why they are preferably used for inline hockey, street or speed skating (with a low shaft). The outer shell is usually made of hard plastic, while the inner shoe is softly padded.
- Softboot skates: In contrast to hard boot skates, the soft boot variant is significantly softer – and therefore more comfortable. So that the feet still have a firm seat in the shoes, models with a high shaft are the better choice (for beginners). Another feature of soft boot skates are the brake pads on the heel, which offer beginners more safety when driving, as well as larger wheels.
- Speed skates: As the name already suggests, particularly high speeds can be achieved with speed skates – which is why they are also used in racing. The typical features include a low shaft height that just reaches the ankles, a light construction and wheels with a larger diameter (90 to 125 millimeters). There are models with four and five wheels.
- Street skates: Among inline experts they are also called aggressive skates: These models are primarily seen in skater parks, on halfpipes and ramps. Due to their special construction (hard shell, light weight, small wheels between 50 and 60 millimeters in diameter) they are particularly suitable for spectacular stunts. Whether slalom or stair skating: street skates are very manoeuvrable.
- Inline hockey skates: Like ice skates, these skates are lace-up skates mounted on an inline frame (rather than a blade like ice hockey). The models are particularly hard and robust – this applies above all to their toe, which has been specially reinforced. Typical features include the castors: two low ones are mounted at the front, two higher ones at the back. There is no brake pad on these skates.
A note about the roles: Depending on which inline skates you choose, they can be of different sizes or arranged. It is important for beginners to know that larger roles are more difficult to control than small ones. The degree of hardness should also not be ignored, since hard wheels wear out more slowly than soft ones – but should not be the first choice for beginners because they offer less comfort.
Buying tips: you need to pay attention to this
If you are interested in a new pair of inline skates, you should not only look at the size. The shaft height, the length of the rails and the size of the wheels are also important. Regardless of whether you have a model for Women, Men or Children want to buy:
- Weight: Heavy inline skates have a significantly lower price, but are more difficult to drive. Lighter models, on the other hand, are a bit more expensive, but also more comfortable to drive – the lower weight is particularly noticeable in terms of speed and maneuverability.
- shoe height: A short shaft height, which is mainly found on speed skates, saves some weight – but it also offers poorer foothold. For this reason, inline skates with a high shaft are more suitable for beginners and beginners.
- Damping: The better the suspension of inline skates, the more comfortable it is to ride – especially on uneven roads. When buying new rollerblades, make sure that they have integrated damping that can absorb small impacts.
- rail length: In fact, the length of the inline rail also has an influence on the riding experience. The longer they are, the more thrust they have and the faster you can go with them. The only downside is that the models are not as manoeuvrable as those with short rails.
- roll size: As already mentioned, you can go faster with large rollers than with small ones. In addition, they offer greater comfort on uneven routes. The disadvantage is that large rollers are less flexible because they require more space, i.e. a longer rail.
Accessories: How to protect yourself properly
If you never or only rarely ride inline skates, you should protect yourself from possible falls. The best way to do this is to wear hand, knee and elbow pads – these are available from Decathlon as a set for Adult and Children. A skate helmet, which protects your head from dangerous injuries, should also be part of the basic equipment. There are suitable ones here too models for big and small skaters that can be adjusted individually.
Learning to ride inline skates: this is how it works
If possible, you should make your first attempts on a smooth and asphalted track without potholes or cracks. For example, in an empty parking lot or on a street with little traffic in an industrial area. In the beginning, it is essential to avoid roads with a slight incline, so that you don’t roll off automatically and uncontrolled. It is also advisable to take the first steps with the help of a second person – or you can find a wall to shimmy along. Don’t underestimate the speed you’ll be accelerating while driving, before you can brake safely. The following tips should help you with inline skating:
1. Learn to start
Place your feet hip-width apart so that you have a secure footing on the inline skates and bend your knees slightly. To start, you have to put one leg behind you so that you push yourself off the ground. As you begin to roll, shift your body weight to the other leg—like skating, if you can do it. To move forward, shift each step slightly forward as you push your feet off the floor. As you gain momentum, you can place your legs together as you roll.
2. Master curves
Curves are a challenge, especially for novice drivers. In order to master these, too, you can use different tricks:
- If you want to turn left, shift your weight to your left foot and put your left leg in front of your right – this will automatically put you in the desired angle. To the right, do the exact opposite.
- Or you master the turns like skiing by turning your hips to the left or right – depending on whether you want to make a left or right turn. It is important that the hips always point in the direction of travel.
- Shift your center of gravity to your left foot when making a left turn and push yourself off the ground with your right foot. Then place it in front of the left foot so that it can then cross over in front of the right foot (always alternately).
3. Practice braking
If you want to learn to ride inline skates, you should definitely master the art of braking. To do this, either use the stopper on the heel of your shoes by shifting your weight onto your supporting leg (i.e. the stronger leg) and at the same time pressing the block on the ground. Or you can lean on your supporting leg and place your other leg on the ground at right angles to the direction of travel – this way you form a kind of T and come to a standstill. Alternatively, you can do the “snow plow” like skiing by putting your feet together so that they resemble an inverted V.
4. Fall correctly
Falling also needs to be learned: the more purposefully you master falling, the fewer injuries you will suffer as a result. It’s best to use a mattress where you can practice falling properly – by falling knees first and trying to twist so that you land on your side or on your back. This protects your arms and hands, but also your neck and head from serious injuries. Should you nevertheless fall on your knees or wrists, the joint protectors cushion the fall.
Regulations: That says the ADAC
According to the ADAC, inline skaters are treated like pedestrians, i.e. they should ride on the sidewalk. In plain language, this means that you have to adapt your speed to your environment. If there are no footpaths, you may skate to the right or left of the road as close to the edge of the road as possible within a town. In principle, however, roads and cycle paths are forbidden for inline skaters – unless they are cleared by the police as part of an event (e.g. Skate or Blade Nights).
Since 2009 there has been another exception, which the ADAC describes as follows: “A new additional sign means that inline skating can be permitted on sufficiently wide cycle paths as an exception right edge in the direction of travel and must allow cyclists to overtake.”
And another important note: Even if there is no legal obligation for inline skaters to wear a helmet or protective equipment in Germany, it is still advisable – especially for beginners – to protect their body with equipment in the event of a fall.
Sources: ADAC, Statista, Sportscheck
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