We have listened to your requests and have decided to give you another night of skating throughout your week. We are now open on Wednesday evenings all Summer from 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Break up your week and come out and take some laps for a couple hours by yourself or bring the kids.
Wednesday tend to give you a little more room on the rink giving first time skaters to enjoy themselves while learning the tricks of the trade. We have always found it is a favorite for the adults who want to get out and stretch their legs and get in a little cardio for the week. Bring the kids out to burn off some of their energy. We are a big family here and enjoy seeing everyone’s smiling faces.
Looking for an idea to get some of the couples you use to hang out with at the rink back in the day. Come out for a reunion of sorts lace up and skate the rink with friends. We have even had some customers come in and just walk some laps to get in a nice work out while they are listening to the music and enjoy the atmosphere.
Younger children enjoy the range of the rink and are able to take their time and use the handrail to help guide them while they get comfortable on their wheels. They can get in plenty of practice so when they weekend hits they can race around the rink.
We are also excited to announce we are holding a Summer party spot on Wednesdays because we know are customers and their children are busy on the weekends and sometimes you just can’t fit it all in. You of course have the choice of either of party rooms from 5pm- 7:30pm. Bring in your own food and drinks we provide the fun.
Mac’s Roller Rink is a legendary destination where for generations people of all ages have gathered to skate, play, and have a blast. Come by and enjoy affordable family fun, where kids, teenagers, and adults alike can unwind, hang out, and build skating skills, rain or shine.
We love to be able to provide affordable family fun for all ages in Frederick, Clarke, Warren, Shenandoah and surrounding counties. It is our goal to provide a safe and fun environment for everyone to enjoy. Mac’s Roller Rink is a tradition in our area and we plan to keep that tradition alive.
The rink is open Friday 7 pm – 11 pm, Saturday 1 pm – 11 pm, and Sunday 1 pm – 6:30 pm. Admission is $6.00 per skater and we have skates available for a $2.00 rental. We are planning on adding some addition times during the week and possibly offer some skate classes or theme nights.
We love that no matter the weather we can be open(except for bad weather conditions the winter sometimes brings). Rain or shine you can still have that playdate you have been planning. Getting friends together to hang out is something we see often here at the rink. We love getting to know all of our skaters and seeing them have a blast regularly is why we do what we do.
We always have fun at the rink and bring our games like limbo, dice game, skate race,sock race, and dodgeball. Not to mention the arcade games we have and pool tables to provide additional entertainment if you need a break from skating or skating may just not be your thing. Kids can enjoy the freedom of the rink while mom or dad can enjoy watching them make laps around the floor.
At Mac’s Roller Rink we have black lights, moving lights, and a disco ball to make you feel like you are at the disco. Music is constantly playing and you can enjoy the tunes of many genres of music as well in put in a request to hear your favorites.
Roller skating is not just for the kids we have adults come out and get their laps in. Coming out to weekend skate is a great way to meet new friends and stay connected to the ones you already have as well as get active and get out of the house. We hope to see you at the rink.
Are you looking for something fun and different to keep your guests entertained? Have you had parties at your house that took up so much time and energy you did not get to enjoy them yourself? Having parties can be stressful, Mac’s Roller Rink wants you to have a stress free party that not only your guests enjoy an awesome party with fun-filled entertainment for all ages but the host will be able to enjoy the fun as well.
Mac’s Roller Rink is home to approximately 7,000 sq ft of event space. We not only help our customers host the best kids and teens birthday parties around, we can help you host family reunions, wedding receptions, baby showers, bachelorette and bachelor parties, sweet 16 birthdays, adult birthdays, graduation parties, high school reunions, church gatherings, sports awards parties, fundraising events, and more.
If you choose to select our party package option you can pick from our scheduled times and days that will work best for you and your guests. Our reserved party times are Friday evenings from 7 pm – 9:30 pm, or Saturday, and Sundays from 1 pm – 3:30 pm, 4 pm – 6:30 pm. We also have the choice of 2 different party rooms. The party package includes admission and skate rentals for 20 skaters and allows you to purchase additional skaters if needed. Let Mac’s provide all of your entertainment during your event. You and your guests will have use of the party area for 2.5 hours and we will clean up not to mention the guest of honor will receive a complimentary t-shirt to remember the day.
Skating laps around the rink may not be for all of your guests, and that is ok. We have games and other entertainment as well. Some of our games include SkeeBall, Air Hockey, MonsterDrop, Clean Sweep, Cyclone, Pinball and our newest addition to our games our own Multicade that is home for 60 classic arcade games. We have a great sound system that plays upbeat music during your party that will be sure to put everyone in a good mood. Our disco ball and lights make for a great backdrop and set the tone for a good time.
Themes are common for parties and welcomed at Mac’s. Feel free to bring in your selected tablecloths and decorations to customize your event. Special characters have even dropped by to join in on the fun and take a couple laps around the rink with your guests. We understand everyone’s needs are different and allow you the option to bring in outside food and drink if you would like to serve snacks, food, cake, or refreshments. Mac’s Roller Rink lets you take the reigns in what you would like to provide with your menu and decorations for your event. Mac’s Roller Rink also provides a small snack bar if you would like to leave it up to your guests to purchase something.
Do you need a specific time and day outside of our reserved party times? We can arrange that too. Mac’s Roller Rink is available for Private Parties and Events during the weekdays and Sunday evenings. We can accommodate anywhere from 20 to 200 guests or more for your VIP style event at the rink. Don’t want to skate but need the space? We can work with that as well just give us a call to work out the details.
Mac’s Roller Rink has been a tradition for many families in our area and we are happy to be a part of your traditions and memories. We hope you choose Mac’s Roller Rink for your next party or event.
We’ve told you about things like the history of roller skating, parts of roller skates, roller skating tricks, and the benefits of roller skating. But what we really haven’t given its due is stopping. We all would want to skate forever if we could, but alas, there are times when we have to stop. This post is about some of the various ways you can stop if necessary. We encourage you to try them all—and any others you find—and decide which one(s) works best for you.
We’ll include methods of stopping for both roller skates and rollerblades—there are some methods that don’t work for both types of skates. As always, we advise you to wear protective equipment at least while you’re practicing.
Use your knee pad. Obviously this is a stop you can only do if you’re wearing protective equipment, but it’s a very simple stop for any new or uncertain skaters. All you have to do is lower one knee to the ground slowly and drag it behind you. It’s best as a backup stopping technique; you don’t want to rely on it because knee pads aren’t designed for braking—especially at high speeds—but it’s good for beginners because it takes so little skill to perform.
Use the toe or heel brake. Roller skates usually come with toe stops and inline skates/rollerblades with one or two heel brakes, so this is ultimately the best simple stop to perform. The best way to do either of these stops is with legs scissored, one forward and the other back. For roller skates, lift the heel of your back foot, put pressure on the toe stop, and maintain that pressure until you stop moving; for rollerblades, lift the toe of your forward foot and apply pressure to the brake until you stop moving.
Try the spinout stop. If you’re comfortable with turns, place one foot down firmly and let the other draw a wide circle around you. What this does is take your forward momentum and turn it into circular motion, which means it’s also good if you just want to slow down rather than stop. When practicing this, you may find it easier and more effective to start with your dominant foot (the one you push off from when you start walking).
To make this technique work better, spread your legs just beyond shoulder-width and bend your knees a little more. You’ll want your feet a little wider than your shoulders, but not so much it’s painful or hinders your ability to maneuver too much. Then turn your toes in just a little. This makes your skates’ wheels roll at a bit of an angle, which creates that friction that slows you down.
Keep in mind that if you do this the skates will naturally try to make your feet move closer, so you want to make sure your toes are turned in just a teeny bit to slow you down. Turn them in too far and there’s a good chance you’ll fall.
Slowly let your feet come together. This may cause you to feel unsteady, so take your time and remember to keep your knees bent. When your feet are close, let your inside (roller skates) or front (rollerblades) wheels gently come into contact with each other. This will create more friction to stop. Just be careful that it doesn’t happen too suddenly or you’re likely to trip yourself up and fall.
NOTE: This move forces you to roll on one foot for a short time, so you should get comfortable doing that before you try this stopping method.
To start, make sure your knees are slightly bent. This will lower your center of gravity and help your balance. Scissor your legs a little (it may help to have your dominant foot ahead and your non-dominant behind the first few times), making sure both feet are still pointing forward, and shift most of your weight to your front/dominant foot so your back foot is ready to move. It might feel awkward at first and it takes a lot of balance, so you may find yourself having to practice that part for a while.
Lift your back foot from the ground just enough to turn it sideways, toes pointed out. You want it to be as near to a ninety-degree angle to your front foot as possible. With your legs still scissored, place it on the ground about a foot behind your front foot, all wheels down. Your back foot is likely to come down at a little bit of an angle, so don’t slam your foot down or put too much weight on it—just add a little pressure.
The important part is to keep your hips aligned forward and keep your front foot pointing wherever you want to go. If you let your hips turn sideways it might be more comfortable, but instead of going forward you’ll start to skate in a curve or spin around. So keep your hips aligned with your front foot. You’ll get used to the sensation with practice.
Still without putting a lot of weight on your back foot and keeping all wheels in touch with the ground to maximize friction, drag it behind you. As you feel comfortable with your balance, you can apply a little more pressure to your back foot to help you stop. The more pressure you apply the faster you’ll stop, but apply too much too fast and you increase your chances of falling. So determine how much room you’ll need to stop (the faster or more novice you are, the more room you’ll need), gauge how much room you have, and use the appropriate amount of pressure to stop you at the right time.
Parallel Slide/Hockey Stop
This is essentially a very fast, tight turn to the left or right that’s very good on smooth surfaces but takes time and practices to get right. It’s arguably a more advanced stopping method because it’s best done at higher speeds; doing it slowly will almost require a jump to set it up.
To perform this maneuver, decide which direction you want to turn. As you lean into your turn, make sure the foot on the side you’re turning to is leading slightly (i.e., left foot ahead for a left turn, right foot ahead for a right turn) and let your other foot follow. Keep your knees bent for the whole move to help your balance; the lower you go the better your balance will be.
You should make sure you practice all the stops we’ve listed here, plus any more you hear about (we definitely haven’t covered them all). Different situations will call for different techniques; some of these stops may be faster or slower than others and either unnecessary or unsuitable for every situation. We’ve had you practice going until now, but it’s just as important to practice stopping.
Also, expect to fall often while practicing these—especially the ones that rely on your feet being somewhere other than directly beneath you. In any case, too much or too little pressure during a stop attempt can cause you to overbalance and throw you off your feet. That’s why we STRONGLY recommend wearing protective equipment at least while you’re practicing these techniques.
We’ve done a post on roller skating tricks, and to a degree this post is more of that. However, there are differences in that some of the ‘tricks’ in this post aren’t tricks as much as methods to improve your skating. So we’ll be covering a few exercises you can do to increase your confidence and balance.
Some of these exercises may only be possible outdoors, so indoor skaters should keep that in mind and either skip that exercise, practice outside, or find a way to modify it for indoor skating.
NOTE: Some of these exercises may increase your chances of falling and being hurt. If you choose to do these exercises, we strongly recommend that you wear protective gear for your own safety.
This may not seem like a useful exercise, but we’re talking running in your skates as though they’re shoes. This will help with your balance and your understanding of how your skates move when you apply torque to them.
Traveling in a Line
That is, with one foot in front of the other. You can give the lead to whichever foot you’re comfortable with at first, but to fully round out your skills you’ll want to learn it both ways. Practicing this can help improve your balance during stepovers. As you get more comfortable, lean a little from side to side while rolling to prepare for doing turns this way.
This is literally lifting one foot over the other and then setting it back down. You can practice this in grass or on carpet to give your legs the idea. Your goal is to be comfortable doing them in a circle in either direction, but you can start by doing them while traveling in a straight line. Knowing how to do these can help with chaining together tricks or turns.
Grass, gravel, potholes, manhole covers, cracked pavement, train rails, tactile paving/tactile warning devices (the bumpy patches on some sidewalks and train platforms), and other things that prevent your path from being perfectly flat can get in the way of a great skate. Take the time to find these hazards or ones like them and, if possible, run over them a bunch. Get used to how they feel, try sudden and sharp swings around them, and so on.
Just keep in mind that doing this particular exercise is pretty much guaranteed to rip up your wheels and possibly damage your bearings, so either have some old skates you can practice with, have replacement parts ready, or skip it entirely.
This doesn’t seem like something that would be that important except as a trick, but think about how much you’d appreciate being comfortable with it if one of your skates caught on something and you had to one-leg it to keep your balance. If you’re walking normally and you trip, you’ve probably saved yourself at least once by keeping your balance on one leg. It’s the same thing with skating.
If you’re wearing rollerblades, a good way to start practicing this is by “dragging” one foot behind you on the front wheel while all your weight is resting on your other foot. If you’re in roller skates and have a toe stop, you’ll have to keep your back foot flat. As you get more comfortable with balancing on one leg, lift your foot completely (just be ready to put it back down).
Kind of like running in your skates, this may seem like a weird one if you aren’t intending to do tricks. But there are lots of places—especially in urban areas—that don’t have elevators or ramps, so it’s actually to your benefit to learn how to take stairs at a walk while wearing skates. Ultimately, you’ll want to be able to take the stairs without holding the safety rail, but for starters you can use it to help you with your balance.
Start your practice by going upstairs first, as this is less dangerous if you happen to fall. Whether you’re going up or down, in the beginning you may want to go sideways one step at a time or by practicing crossovers/stepovers. When you’re going upstairs facing forward, ‘kick’ the front of each stair lightly as you go up to ensure that as much of your skates are on each step as possible; most stairs are deep enough that if they roll a little you won’t drop suddenly to the stair below (you can also do the kick back into the front of each stair if you go downstairs facing forward, but that’s something you want to work up to). And remember to WALK.
This includes not only skating backward normally, but also skating backward with your skates in a line and skating backward on one leg. This is actually good to know not just as a trick, but because you may feel more comfortable going backward down ramps or stairs since it reduces the fear of falling forward. You should practice on a flat surface first, of course. Skating backward is largely like skating forward; study how your legs and feet are placed and move when you skate forward, then reverse that to skate backward.
When you’re ready to take inclines and stairs, whether you’re going forward or backward, you want to bend your knees more and lean slightly forward. This will lower your center of gravity and make you feel less like you’re falling—a good thing, because flailing your arms when you’re unsteady will pretty much guarantee that you fall.
ALWAYS watch over your shoulder to identify and avoid obstacles and people.
We’re talking the heel-to-heel sort of turn. These might seem like they’d be easy, but it’s based heavily on your comfort with skating with your feet in a line. You get yourself going, pick up one foot, turn it almost 180 degrees, and set it back down. Remember that you want to create enough of a curve with your feet to turn, but the sharper your curve the faster you’ll go, and it’ll become a spin. This can be done at a relatively slow speed, but that may increase your likelihood of falling.
When you’re comfortable taking turns while skating forward, try to blend a turn into skating backward.
Don’t Brake (On Hills)
Obviously, in an emergency situation you may need to brake, so you should absolutely practice braking as well. But when used properly a brake will wear down quickly, so you should have some alternatives in your arsenal. A lot of skaters will learn to brake or prefer to brake with a T-stop or any of a variety of slides, and while these might look cool they’re extremely destructive to skate wheels, which means that even if you rotate them like you should you’ll be buying new wheels as often as you would’ve bought an actual brake (and the wheels are a lot more expensive to boot).
So what do you do? Well, after a lot of practice with skating backward and turning, you can use those to slow you down instead. The act of turning increases friction with the skating surface, which reduces speed. Keep in mind that the steeper the incline you’re on the sharper your turns will have to be to adequately slow you, so start off on a long and shallow incline on which you can easily switch to braking to stop quickly if necessary.
This is one exercise where balance really, really matters. Both jumps and turns will by nature attempt to throw you off balance, so combining them is a double-whammy. You want to make sure you’re fully comfortable with both before you try a jump turn.
Start by practicing jumping while skating forward. ‘Jump’ curbs one foot at a time (like a hopping step) to help you get used to lifting your legs. When you’re happy with how you’re picking up each of your feet and ready to pick up both together, take tiny jumps over inconsequential two-dimensional obstacles like lines on the road or joints or cracks in the sidewalk, so that if you come down directly on the obstacle there’s little or no penalty. Slowly increase the height of your jumps. Once you’re consistently clearing these obstacles and are comfortable with your landings, move up to small three-dimensional obstacles like potholes and four-by-fours. For those who really like a challenge, learn to jump on one foot.
When you begin to work on jump-turns, go back to painted road lines and sidewalk joints and cracks until you can aim and stick your landings after your turn.
Skating on Two (or Four) Wheels
This is more like “coasting on two (or four) wheels” because you really aren’t going to get much leverage to push as you need to do to skate. You’ll want to learn to skate on your back wheels, front wheels, or back and front. This is another thing that may only be possible for rollerblades to do if you wear skates and have toe stops; even if you have rollerblades, if they have a brake you’ll want to be careful that you don’t tilt your rollerblades back so far that you engage the brake.
That’s really all there is to it. With time, you’ll get comfortable enough to go forward, backward, and do turns. The key is balance!
Take Your Time!
These exercises might seem like they won’t help, but give them time. If you like a challenge, go straight to the exercises that will help you with your weaknesses; if you’d rather ease into it, go with the exercises that will boost your confidence with what’s already your best skating skills. Overall, the goal with pretty much anything to do with roller skates is balance. So if you tend to have balance issues, start simply with some balancing exercises—on two feet, on one foot, without skates, and with skates.
You don’t have to have worn roller skates for long (or ever) to know about blisters. You can get them from doing pretty much any activity. Most people who get them will end up with them somewhere on a hand or foot, and if you’ve ever found yourself with one it was probably in a spot you seemed to be “using” a lot, which made it hurt worse. And if it burst or you made the mistake of bursting it . . .
That’s why this post is going to be about blisters, how you get them, and what you can do about them. We’ve already done a post on lace bite, and blisters are so common it would be silly of us to not mention them.
Why does a blister form?
First, it’s important to know what a blister is. A blister is a pocket in the upper layers of skin that may be filled with a body fluid that is usually clear. Blisters can be caused in a variety of ways, but in skating they’re most likely to be caused by a lot of rubbing (that is, friction), particularly on moist skin in warm conditions . . . like sweaty feet in skates. But really, any sort of harsh rubbing will do, such as when you have brand new skates or when they’re the wrong size.
Blisters caused by friction form when layers of skin separate and rub together. The damage causes the torn skin cells to release a clear fluid that both cushions against further damage and provides nutrients for the formation of new cells. As the new cells form, this fluid is absorbed or otherwise used and any swelling that was associated with the blister subsides.
How do I prevent a blister from forming?
Because so many different factors can cause a blister to form, there’s no one single way to prevent them. But there are precautions you can take, either before a blister has formed or when one is trying to form.
Ensure that your skates fit properly. It may seem like a frugal idea to buy what’s cheap—particularly if you’re just starting out and aren’t sure you’ll keep up with it, or know you will but haven’t decided on a specific discipline—but if your skates don’t fit well then you’ll find reasons to not skate anyway. So shop around and find what feels good on your feet. This isn’t just foot size we’re talking about, but brand—different manufacturers will make skates with boots of different widths, and that will impact your comfort level.
Break in your skates. To do this without causing blisters, only skate in brand-new skates for a short time. Allow the material of your skate boot or liner to learn the shape of your foot and form to it. As that happens, you’ll be able to skate longer and longer without fear of blisters.
Know your hot spots. The telltale sign of friction is heat, even when there’s no accompanying redness or swelling. If you notice you’re feeling sore at a certain spot or spots on your feet when you skate, touch those place and then nearby skin to see if there’s a difference in temperature. If there is, that’s a hot spot, and it’s likely to become a blister if you don’t make changes.
Pad your feet. The cheapest way is with a thick pair of socks that will act as a cushion and barrier against rubbing. If sweaty feet are a thing for you and you normally wear thin socks, realize that thin socks are inadequate padding for prolonged activity; instead, bring extra pairs of thick socks and swap them out from time to time (the dry socks will protect better, too). Blister pads are cushioned and can also help protect areas that might blister, though sweat may make these difficult to use properly. Athletic or sports tape is another option.
Check your form. Is your skating form correct? Probably not. When you skate, make sure you’re pushing off with your heel instead of your toes. If there’s a speed skating team near you, talk to them; it’s very important for them to know good skating form for endurance skating, so they can give you tips.
Oh no, I have a blister! What do I do?
First and most importantly, resist popping it unless you’re told to by a doctor. A blister is a defensive act of the body, and by popping it you break down that defense and recreate the circumstances that led to the initial blister, setting yourself up for a bigger and more painful second blister. You’re also opening a wound to pain and infection if the top layer of skin tears away. If a doctor does instruct you to pop a blister, ensure sterile conditions and equipment before doing so to reduce the risk of infection.
If the blister doesn’t pop, pad it with callus cushions or makeup sponges to reduce friction. Remember, a blister is self-defense, but it’s also telling you that something is wrong and you need to protect yourself better.
Sometimes a blister will pop on its own. If this happens, don’t remove the top layer. Doing so will expose the lower layers to infection. Instead, dab away any fluid and then gently clean the area where the blister is. If possible, don’t cover it—good clean air contributes to healing and prevents some infections from taking hold. If you have to cover it, apply a bandage through which your skin can breathe. Either take a break from skating so it can heal or use some sort of thick cushioning to protect it when you skate.
Blisters hurt. If you can at all avoid them, we highly recommend it. Pay attention to hot spots and pad them to protect yourself. But if you develop a blister anyway, be very careful with it. Cushion it, don’t burst it, and give it time to heal.
We’ve told you a lot about skates and skating, but we haven’t said much about protective equipment other than that you should wear it. It can be overwhelming trying to find what’s out there and figure out what you need for what you want to do. In this post we’re going to explore protective equipment and who should wear what and when.
NOTE: This post assumes a skater is an adult. If you’re under eighteen years of age, you should always ask your parents what kind of safety gear they expect you to wear while skating.
Who should wear protective equipment? Why?
As you might guess, in a best-case scenario everyone who does something that’s potentially hazardous to their safety should wear protective equipment at all times while doing that activity. Motorcyclists, for example, call this ‘ATGATT’ (“all the gear all the time”). However, not every person can or wants to wear safety gear. Still, there are certain people who should seriously consider doing so:
Skaters who are novices or lack confidence and want to feel safe
Elderly skaters, who are likely to take longer to heal from injuries
Outdoor skaters, who are likely to take more significant risks and get hurt more often
Skaters who can’t risk injury because of work (e.g., massage therapists) or a health condition
What kind of gear is there for roller skaters?
There’s a lot of gear for roller skaters. You can pad all the corners, as it were, and even some of the curves. Common equipment:
Helmet – Virtually any kind of recreation-related helmet will do (e.g., the sort a person might wear while bicycling, skateboarding, or kayaking), since roller skaters rarely go so fast they need heavy head protection. Helmets are important to use because head injuries are incredibly dangerous; worse, the damage compounds if accumulated too quickly (it’s called ‘second-impact syndrome’).
Elbow pads – The same sort you’d wear while bicycling or skateboarding, elbow pads mainly help because your elbows are important joints in your arms, and the way you fall will determine how much damage they take. If you’re practicing skating backward, you should really consider wearing elbow pads, because they’ll probably take the brunt of any fall; you won’t realize how much you use your elbows until you can’t.
Knee pads – Again, the sort you’d wear while doing other recreational activities. Good to wear for forward falls in particular, since humans generally try to fall onto hands and knees to protect our heads and bodies from the worst of the impact. Even gardeners will wear knees pads for comfort and protection if they plan to be kneeling for a long time.
Wrist guards – Perhaps the least common of the common protective equipment, wrist guards nevertheless helps protect your wrists during a fall by helping absorb or redirect the impact. It’s human nature to throw out our hands to protect our heads when we fall, so the possibility of wrist injury is very real.
Less common equipment:
Mouth guard – This is used mainly by roller derby teams. It’s exactly like the sort used by boxers, football players, hockey players, and others. There are a couple of different types, but the most common you just pop into your mouth over your top teeth, then go skating.
Impact shorts – This gear is often used by ice skaters, snowboarders, and others. It kind of looks silly, like padded underwear, but it protects the hips and tailbone in the event of a fall, so it keeps you skating. Wear them under a pair of pants that are slightly larger than your usual and no one will know.
Money is tight. What do I HAVE to have?
If you’re on a budget and don’t know what pieces of equipment to prioritize, look first at your discipline. Is there any gear that’s commonly worn? For example, speed skaters frequently wear only helmets. They should wear more given how fast they go, but speed and aerodynamics demand they minimize bulk. So they balance their likelihood of falling—always possible—with what they need to protect most. For them, healing skinned extremities is less of a problem than healing a concussion, so they wear helmets.
By contrast, roller derby teams engage in competition that has much more physicality to it. Knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, mouth guards, and helmets are all necessary for safe play; the only thing you can really get away with not having from the start is a mouth guard.
If you don’t have a discipline or the safety gear participants wear is too varied for you to get a good idea of what’s best, decide what’s best for you. If you’re a recreational skater and you want to wear just a helmet, do that. If you’re a recreational skater and you want to wear everything they wear in roller derby, do that. If your job requires you to have certain parts of your body uninjured, make sure you protect those first. When it comes to it, your safety is always up to you.
When it comes down to it, you need to choose what works for you. Some disciplines will require certain safety equipment, and any conflict you may have you’ll need to overcome (or abandon the discipline). But when it comes to recreational skating you can choose whatever gear—or no gear, though we don’t recommend that—you like. And while it’s true that even wearing all available protective equipment won’t prevent all injuries, it will reduce the severity of the damage and whatever recovery time comes with that. Isn’t that worth it?
Any skater can understand the importance of roller skate boots or wheels, but most people don’t give roller skate plates and trucks adequate credit for their importance. In this post we’re going to explore the point behind having plates and trucks on your skates, what they can be made of, and help you determine what type you might need.
What Are Plates?
Plates, along with trucks, are the part that connect the roller skate boots to the skates’ wheels. As you might expect given its name, the plate is the mostly flat piece that runs along the bottom of a skate.
Sizing them depends mostly on your comfort with skating; the wheelbase is measured from the center of one axle to the center of the other and often listed in both millimeters and inches. Different models may have different measurements. The key for novice or casual skaters is to be as accurate as possible to get the most stability; for more experienced skaters, a slightly smaller plate can improve agility.
What Are They Made Of?
Plates may be made of nylon or metal alloys. Nylon is ideal for anyone confined by a budget. They’re lightweight, so they can help those prone to fatigue. On the most low-end of models they can be flexible and weak, but modern nylon plates typically have fiberglass reinforcement that make them more durable. These are the best plates for recreational skaters and for occasional competitive play.
Metal alloys encompass aluminums and magnesium. A plate made of aluminum alloy may mean cast aluminum, aircraft aluminum, or 6000–7000 aluminum. Cast aluminum is very heavy, but economical. Aircraft aluminum includes basic aircraft aluminum, extruded aluminum, and lightweight extruded aluminum; each is lighter and more performance-oriented than the one before. 6000–7000 aluminum is an ‘elite’ aircraft-aluminum plate that’s lighter than nylon but also performs better. A magnesium-alloy plate is the next step up, being lighter, more rigid, more responsive, and more durable than nearly all aluminum plates.
If you’re a heavier skater, say, over two hundred pounds, a metal plate is going to be your safest bet.
Kingpins are what connect plates and trucks. They’re always set at an angle that generally ranges from ten degrees to forty-five degrees. The best angle for a skater is based on personal preference and related to stability and agility. A ‘smaller’ angle, such as ten degrees, offers the most stability and allows for an upright skating stance while a ‘larger’ forty-degree angle offers more agility. Reversible kingpins make turns easier still by allowing the front and rear wheels to turn in the same direction.
There are different types of kingpin nuts that further customize your skating experience. One type can be adjusted generally (standard) and another specifically (micro-adjustable) to apply a unique amount of pressure to the cushions.
What Are Trucks?
In our post on the history of roller skating we covered that the invention and application of trucks to roller skates made them much easier to control and led to the first boom in roller skate popularity. So what do they do? Trucks attach to the plate using kingpins, and the axles on which the wheels are threaded pass through a part of the truck.’ Trucks make turning easier and quicker, and they have a nut that can be adjusted to make them more responsive and increase turning speed, but this also makes them less stable.
What Are They Made Of?
Trucks are usually made of aluminum, which makes skates heavier, but for now there are no cheap alternatives. The trucks have to be metal because they’re where the majority of the wear and tear happens on a typical roller skate.
It Looks Crowded in There…
Plates and trucks are separated by rubber cushions or ‘bushings’ that help you turn. Stiffer cushions offer more stability while softer cushions sacrifice stability for agility; similarly, normal cylindrical cushions are more stable than conical cushions, but conical cushions allow for faster turns.
Cushions are the centerpiece of the “single action” or “double action” plates. Single action means that there’s just one cushion on top of the truck; this causes the skate to sort of snap over, which can be useful on banked surfaces, but they’re sensitive to the littlest movement and aren’t best for novices or disciplines where control is the most important factor. By contrast, double action plates have two cushions—one on either side of the truck—and the addition of the lower cushion makes a skater’s motions less dramatic and offers greater control.
Along with the cushions, some skates have a ‘jump bar’ or ‘jumper.’ This flat piece of metal connects the trucks and helps with turning and stability. They’re removable, but since they’re involved in the structure and support of the skates, it’s not recommended.
Do Rollerblades Have Plates and Trucks?
Inline skates (rollerblades) don’t have plates or trucks per se, but they do haves ‘frames.’ Frames are the part to which the axles are threaded and the wheels attached. These are where the power comes from during skating, so frame stiffness is important. With that in mind, flexibility, weight, and stiffness are the most important factors of frames. Frames often have cutouts that might look cool, but have the purpose of reducing weight while maintaining structural integrity. There are three common types of frames:
Plastic frames are the least expensive to make, so their cheapness makes them a common feature in beginner-level skates. This helps make the skates cheaper as well, but it also means they’re not as sturdy. They’re also often heavier than other frame types, which makes the skates heavier and can increase the onset of fatigue.
Aluminum frames are usually lighter and stiffer than plastic. This makes them more efficient and long-lived, but you’ll pay a little more for those benefits.
Carbon frames are mainly for advanced and professional skaters who need extra reinforcement, strength, and weight reduction for their discipline.
Time to Truck Along
As you can see, plates and trucks are quite important to an easy and enjoyable skating experience. There are a lot of small parts involved, so it can be tempting to pull them off and set them aside during maintenance and cleaning, but they’re the foundation of your skating experience. Take care of them!
Something we haven’t really focused on too much is skates and your feet. Of course, the simple fact that you wear skates on your feet means they have a very important relationship, but there’s more to it. Because how the skates fit your feet directly relates to what kind of skater you can be (especially if you’re a novice!). That’s why in this post, we’re going to address skate boots and liners.
In general, if you’re a novice or casual skater you’re probably going to want skates that have as many interchangeable parts as possible. This way you can experiment with what makes you feel most comfortable and maximize your learning potential. Even if you know what discipline you want to practice, comfort and learning are going to be your most vital needs at first. After you’ve skated for a while you can look for ways to increase your speed or agility or some other requirement your chosen discipline calls for.
In most cases, skate boots for roller skates are a “set it and forget it” sort of thing. While there are skates with hard shells and removable liners, you’re probably generally going to see roller skates with boots or shoes. And while you can absolutely buy another set of boots to replace your current ones, you’re replacing a major component of your skates. If you like that your boots have heels but the pair you’re looking at doesn’t have heels, you can’t keep the heels from your old boots and attach them to the bottom of your new boots. So you have to choose carefully.
That said, there are designs of boots or shoes that are more likely to be specific to certain disciplines. Less aggressive disciplines or disciplines that require extra ankle support probably have a higher cuff, while more aggressive disciplines will have a lower cuff to allow for more maneuverability. Hard shell roller skates are ideal for long-distance speed skating. Make sure you buy the style of skate boot that’s right for your preferred skating habits or you’re likely to give yourself blisters, rashes, or rub injuries.
When it comes inline skates (rollerblades), things are sometimes easier that they are with roller skates. Depending on the manufacturer or model of skate, the inner part of the “boot” of a rollerblade is more likely to be removable. This inner part is more correctly called the “liner” (the outer part is commonly called a “shell”). Whether you have a liner or retain the entire boot depends mostly on the discipline or manufacturer.
Professional speed skaters, for example, never have liners; instead, they have skate boots that are custom-molded to the shape of their feet. By contrast, recreational skates are likely to have a removable liner just because it’s convenient for cleaning and allows a skater to try out a variety of liners to find what works best. Depending on your foot size you may find that a thinner or thicker liner makes skating more enjoyable because your feet aren’t being pinched or they aren’t sweating as much. There are four main types of liner:
Standard – The basic liner, usually made of foam. These liners are not customized so they’re relatively inexpensive. Mainly for casual, recreational, and novice skaters.
Auto-Fit – Normally padded with gel that contours to your feet. More supportive and comfortable than standard liners.
Memory Fit – A relative of the auto-fit, this liner remembers your foot pattern and shapes to your feet the more often you skate.
Heat-Moldable – These liners are removed and heated (by a skate shop professional!), then placed on your feet. As they cool, they contour to your feet, making your skates uniquely yours and, hopefully, uniquely comfortable.
At this point you may wonder if you really need to go to all this trouble. Well, perhaps not. Have you ever seen a pair of (really young) children’s training skates? They’re adjustable for kids to grow into and also step-in—that is, the child wears normal walking shoes and straps the skates on over them. This is largely to help parents with squirmy children, but there are varieties for adults that are frequently offered as “commuter” skates so you aren’t having to carry your entire shoe closet with you.
So should you get them? Well, whether these skates are worth it is a matter of opinion. While there’s little arguing the convenience and time saved switching shoes, especially for casual skaters, such skates don’t typically offer good foot support. That’s the job of your normal shoes. Yet for some these open skates also tend to restrict what kind of shoes you can wear with them. If you have a foot or arch condition, then, you may find yourself in a bind.
Probably the best thing is to consider that they’re billed as “commuter” skates, so even if you see exciting promotional videos of skaters doing tricks in them, that may not be ideal for you. If you’re just skating a short distance from one location to another over relatively smooth surfaces, doing few or no jumps or tricks, you may find they serve your needs exactly. But if you skate long distances over rough terrain and like or need to take jumps or lots of stairs, they may not be the best choice.
If the Shoe Fits…
Every skater, but particularly anyone who plans to skate frequently or for long periods of time, needs to have skate boots or liners that are comfortable. Hopefully, with this post you have a basic idea of what you should be looking for when it comes to your skating discipline and needs.