What is the Difference Between Roller Skates and Roller Blades?

Roller blades have wheels that are positioned in a straight line at the center of the foot.
Roller skates have two wheels in front and two wheels in back of the skate.
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  • Written By: Matthew F.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 April 2014
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Roller skates and roller blades are both types of athletic footwear that allows the user to roll on wheels. They differ in their wheel arrangements. Roller skates utilize four corners of wheels on the bottom of the skate, much like the wheels on a car. Roller blade wheels are aligned on the middle of the foot, from the heel to the toe, in a straight line of three, four or five wheels.

The different wheel alignments offer different possibilities and different styles of skating. The four wheels on roller skates are in position for the best stability and balance. They are thick wheels shaped like car tires, while roller blades, also called in-line skates, have wheels geared for speed. The straight design of in-line skates also allows for quicker turning. Their design was meant to mimic ice skating, and the less stable design with taller, thinner wheels usually results in more injuries.

Another difference in roller skates and roller blades are the stoppers. Roller skate stoppers are round and positioned on the front of the shoe, at the toe. These stoppers require the skaters to raise their heels and tip their toes forward to stop. Roller blade stoppers are rectangle and generally positioned at the rear of the skate, near the heel. To stop on roller blades, the wearer simply has to do the opposite of roller skates: lift the toes and slant the heel into the ground until the stopper meets the surface of the floor or ground.


Roller skates and roller blades, while sharing a common lineage, have different histories. Roller skates were very popular with children in the 1970s, and were cultural phenomenon in alternative areas like roller rinks and roller derbies for the more extreme. Roller skates were first patented in 1760 in Europe, and today’s form was first devised in 1863. Both types, though, are approved by the American Heart Association as good aerobic exercise tools.

Roller blades, or in-line skates, were first developed out of the roller skate design in the 1980s, as a substitute training method for ice skating. They became popular in the 1980s and 1990s with the marketing of the Rollerblade brand of inline skates. Roller blades have helped to increase the popularity of roller hockey, freestyle slalom skating, and speed skating.

Though in the same family, the two types of skates have one key difference. That difference is in the wheel shape and design. And the design difference, quad or in-line, spells the difference between speed and stability.


Discuss this Article

Post 4

I have learned to roller skate, but I realized when on the road it's way too bumpy to skate. So will it take the same skill to rollerblade as it did to roller skate?

Post 2

Suntan12-I used to rollerblade and I have to say that it is great exercise especially for the legs and hips.

The nice thing is that you don’t even realize the calories that you are burning until you stop. Your legs get in great shape fast.

The best thing to do is to look for rollerblades or roller skates on sale.

Stores like Sports Authority have them all of the time. The nice thing about that store is that the staff members can help you select the best pair for you and they can also help you with the fit of the skates.

The fit is probably the most important aspect of the skates because if you are not comfortable you won’t be able to skate well.

If you don’t skate well after a while you will become frustrated and lose interest. So it is best to get the right pair from the onset so that you can enjoy the outdoors and get great exercise as well.

Post 1

Good roller skates are easier to balance with than roller blades. Roller blades have one straight line down the middle with four or five wheels on it.

If you are buying new roller skates, it is best to get some practice in a roller rink so that you are comfortable skating.

It takes time to get used to skating, but once you do you never forget. Adult roller skates will cost about $50 and up, but before you buy your new roller skates you might want to get some lessons at the rink.

Most skating rinks offer skating lessons for those that are uncomfortable skating.

Once you had some exposure then you can ask the trainer what roller skates to buy. Outside roller skates will be the same as inside roller skates.

For outside use you may have to buy a knee pad, an elbow pad and a helmet in case that you fall. Razor skates are a great brand and they also make scooters. Most toy stores carry this brand of roller skates for sale for children.

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