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Types of Roller Skates

written by: Sylvie Colette • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 7/5/2011

The different types of roller skates available are all created for very specific functions. Choosing a skate that is made for what you have in mind helps in both your performance and enjoyment of the sport.

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    Roller-skating can be as simple as renting a pair of skates at the local roller rink and taking a few spins around before heading to the arcade or playing a rousing game of Hokey Pokey. If this is all you know of roller skates then you may not be aware of the wide variety in the types of roller skates on the market. There are several different sports and activities that are done on 8 wheels; dancing, racing, hockey and roller derby are among the most popular.

    Learn what different types of roller skates have to offer and what their purposes are. Possibly discover a new past time in the process.

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    Artistic Skates

    There are two specific styles of artistic skates. The figure skates are designed the same as ice figure skaters wear. The high leather boot is very solid in order to protect the ankles. They sport a high heel which keeps the skater positioned on her toes for maneuverability. Artistic skates have a short wheelbase that is well balanced under the foot, allowing for spins and fancy dance movements. They are made to withstand a lot of force that comes from jumps.

    A roller dance skate is similar to the figure skate, but is made of softer leather allowing the dancer more range of motion and flexibility. This type of roller skate requires a hard wheel without much friction or grip. The bearing should be well lubricated so that the dancer can roll freely. Try a 62mm wheel with at least a 101A to 103A hardness.

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    Speed Skating Quads

    Speed skates serve a different purpose than the artistic skate. They are designed for speed and longevity. Featuring a low cut, lightweight boot that is cut like a tennis shoe, this type of roller skate does not have a high heel. In fact the heel on the speed skate is less than a half an inch.

    The flap across the front of the skate and laces are a desired feature. The strap lets you adjust the tightness of the boot and the laces are kept tied. Speed skate quads have wide wheel bases that adapt well to maneuvers.

    Choose wide wheels for your speed skate, a 62mm, and 95 - 98A wheel. Bearings can be from an ABEC-3 to an ABEC-7.

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    Hockey Quad Skates

    This type of roller skate is specifically designed for the mainly European sport, quad hockey. It is often known as hardball hockey. The game is aggressive and played with a sort of field hockey stick a hard wood ball.

    The skates are created from typical hockey boots that are mounted onto a quad plate. The wheels chosen depend on the position the player holds.

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    Aggressive Quad Skates

    Aggressive roller skating is done much like skateboarding and is done mostly in skate parks, also known as "vert," "park" and "free skating." This type of roller skate is more stable do to the use of wider than normal trucks. They also often have a metal plate at the bottom for grinding, or sliding along rails and curbs. The boots can be rigid for better leg support and the wheels are big and hard.

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    Derby Skates

    Derby skates are available in several different designs. The position played as well as the surface that the game is being played on make a lot of difference. Typically a derby skate is a low cut boot with a Velcro strap to fasten the laces and support the ankle. Roller derby skates have quite a bit of padding included. They are often customized with an extra leather piece over the toe of the boot to protect the skate and keep it together for as long as possible.

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