Traditional roller skates have all but been replaced by in-line skates. This low impact sport uses more muscles than running, yet can provide good aerobic exercise. Skates differ widely in price and construction.
Children's feet should feel comfortable in the boot, and their ankles should be well supported by a snugly buckled or strapped top. In general, children should be able to properly put on and remove their skates.
Skate wheels vary in size and hardness. Smaller wheels provide a lower center of gravity that may help beginning skaters feel more stable. Large wheels are faster and last longer. Softer wheels absorb bumps from small irregularities better than hard wheels, and provide better traction on smooth surfaces.
In-line skates also come with a brake that drags along the ground when the child shifts weight. Safe in-line skating takes both practice and precaution. Helmets, knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards should be standard equipment for skaters. Children should learn to skate on flat, open paved surfaces free from traffic. Basic technique should be learned and practiced slowly; speed and technique should progress together. Parents should set clear rules for when and where skating is permissible.
Here are some safety guidelines for your child:
- Always wear protective gear.
- Skate under control and leave plenty of room to stop.
- Always skate on the right side of paths and sidewalks, and pass on the left.
- Avoid uneven pavement and areas with heavy traffic.
- Observe traffic regulations, and yield to pedestrians.
Too often, children venture into streets and try out stunts before they are fully able to control their skating.