Puppies, kittens, chocolate, Fridays and roller skates. No, this isn’t a drill to pick the odd one out; it’s just a bunch of universally loved things that make everyone happy. Especially that last one. They see you rollin’, no one’s hatin’. It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 55, seeing someone happily sliding down the street makes you want to grab a pair and hit the streets yourself. Maybe it’s because roller skating looks fun and easy, and the roller skate shoes look super cool. Or maybe, it’s because it brings back happy memories. Either way, there’s something about quad skates that unites people of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities.

Quad roller skates have a long and illustrious history, but things weren’t always all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, the first roller skate was off to a terrible start that caused the inventor, John Joseph Merlin, to crash and break an expensive mirror on his very debut back in 1760. Of course, these bad boys weren’t even remotely close to the roller skates you know and love today, so no worries. Nowadays, industry-leading brands such as Impala, Moxi and Crazy Skates design their trucks, boots, brakes and wheels with the highest regard to safety, comfort and performance. And in case you want to double down on safety, you can always kit out with protective gear.

Who Can Skate?

Since roller skating takes skill, many people wonder what is the best age to start skating While starting out young certainly has its perks, it’s never too late to develop a crush on quad roller skates. There are plenty of schools where experienced instructors can safely guide you on your journey to Spread Eagles, Moonwalks, Crazy Legs and other steezy moves. Regardless of age, anyone can learn how to skate and how to do it in confidence. Now that even the elephant in the room is gone skating, you too can follow your heart and treat yourself to a stylish pair of quad skates.

How to Choose the Perfect Skates?

When shopping for roller skates online or in-store, you’ll notice that there are several types to choose from including:

  • Outdoor skates – suited for rougher terrain outside.
  • Indoor skates – suited for use on indoor surfaces such as wood or smooth concrete.
  • Derby skates – featuring a low cut boot with generous padding to provide support and protection from contact.
  • Artistic – featuring a high boot and super-strong plates for utmost stability and precision when performing jumps and tricks.
  • Park – featuring extra firm padded boot for protection, stability and ankle support to tackle the ramps and bowls in confidence.
  • Recreational – super comfy, designed for those who use roller skating as a form of exercise.

The skates you choose greatly depend on the type of skating you’re planning on doing. It’s best to consult the experts in your local skate shop to ensure you’ve got the right gear for the job. As for the styles and colours out there, that’s totally up to your personal preference. From the subtle neutrals to the loud rainbows and glitter, you’ll be spoiled for choice. If this is your first time skating or you’re feeling a bit rusty, you’ll be pleased to know that some skates come with a free lesson to get you started.

How to Roller Skate?

Once you have your skates, pulling off an awesome trick that you’ve seen on your Insta feed might seem tempting, but it’s best to take it easy and learn the basics first to avoid getting hurt. The first thing you should focus on is your posture. Starting from the top, your eyes need to be focused far ahead to scan for people, obstacles or debris on the road. Avoid looking down at your feet no matter how scared you are or how cool your skates look because this is a recipe for falling.

Then, you need to hold your chin up. Cardi B may beg to differ, but when it’s up, it’s not stuck up. Think I’m proud of myself, but I’m not turning my nose up. This will help you maintain your eyes on the road while ensuring that nothing comes as a surprise i.e. giving you plenty of time to react in a safe, collected manner.

Next, you need to have your shoulders back yet relaxed and arms slightly out to help you with balance. On the same balance note, you need to slightly drop your hips and softly bend your knees. Not too much like you’re squatting and not too straight. It should feel natural. Skating with straight knees is tailbone enemy number one. Once you get comfy with the correct posture, it’s time to put things in motion.

With your heels together and toes pointing outwards, you should start gently pushing forward by switching your weight from one foot to the other. Remember, roller skating isn’t walking or kicking back, it’s gliding forward by leaning left and right. Go slowly so that the minute you’re feeling insecure about something you can slowly stop and start again. And congrats! You’ve done it! So what’s next?

Yeah, sorry, but it’s learning how to stop. In roller skating, there are several ways to brake and you should know at least two or three of them so you can adjust your stopping power to the situation. For instance, the T-stop is a more abrupt way of stopping. It’s done by planting one foot back perpendicular and dragging it to a stop. Similarly, the toe-stop requires you to extend one foot forward and drag your toe stop to brake.

The third popular way of braking is the plow stop. This allows you to slowly reduce your speed and build your way to a stop. It’s the safest way to brake for beginners since there aren’t any sudden movements involved. To perform the plow stop you need to spread your legs and slowly turn your toes inwards to increase friction. It’s basically going from a wide to a narrow stance, in a slow, controlled manner.

Now, this may seem a bit scary, but a fall is bound to happen. It happens even to the most experienced skaters out there. That’s why one of the first ‘tricks’ you should learn is how to fall safely. When you feel things are about to go south, the last thing you should do is throw your hands in the air like you just don’t care. In this club, dropping it low is the hottest move around. So, the moment you’re feeling off-balance, duck down and touch your calves. That way, even if the fall is inevitable, you’ll be closer to the ground to lessen the impact.

When you have the right gear and training, skating isn’t scary at all. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning on rolling solo, joining a club or assembling your own squad, your quad skates are bound to bring loads of fun and excitement to your life. With that being said, you’re now ready to start your journey on eight colorful wheels.

The Sports Medicine Weekly Podcast is the Sports Enthusiast's Official Resource for Fitness, Nutrition, Injury Prevention and Treatment

Podcast host, Dr. Brian Cole, an internationally renowned orthopedic surgeon, shares his clinical expertise to empower athletes and weekend warriors with knowledge on how to treat and prevent sports injuries and improve fitness.

Click here for full podcast playlist.