The Ultimate Rollerskating Guide for Beginners

Everything you Need to know to start quad skating

There has been a notable uptick of interest in rollerskating over the course of the pandemic, especially with the ‘trendiness’ of the activity blowing up thanks to TikTok. Rollerskating seems to be having a big mainstream moment. The timing makes sense; rollerskating is cool as hell, visually interesting making for great social media fodder, and it’s a fun activity that we can do outdoors and physically distanced. 

However, rollerskating is nothing new. If you are getting into the activity, it is important to acknowledge the rich history and deep cultural roots. Since its invention in 1743, roller skating has been tied to Black social movements (Ruth Terry, 2021). There is a great HBO Original documentary, ‘United Skates’, that “spotlights a community fighting in a racially charged environment to save the underground African-American subculture of rollerskating, which has been overlooked by the mainstream for generations”- it comes highly recommended!

Rollerskating is such a fun and versatile activity, and a great, low-impact way to move your body. Whether you want to incorporate some fun dance moves, cruise around a rink, or stretch out your wheels in the sunny outdoors, the first step is getting comfortable on your skates. 

If you are a beginner, like me, here is some introductory information and some basic tips to get you started on your rollerskating journey! 

Getting Started 

The only thing you really need to start your rollerskating adventure is a pair of sturdy skates that fit you properly! To get yourself started, you just want a simple leisure skate with wheels that are appropriate for indoor and outdoor surfaces. 

Choosing Rollerskates 

Rollerskates are generally fit similar to standard shoe sizes.  As a rule of thumb, it is better to go slightly too big than too small, because you could wear thicker socks in the cooler months and your feet will likely swell in the heat of the warmer months. 

Depending on brand and style, rollerskates have a wide range of price points. If you are just starting out, you won’t want to spend a fortune on a pair of skates, only to find out that it’s not really your thing! 

Still, you want to get a decent pair that are going to actually be functional while you learn. Anything less than about $70-$100 on a new pair of skates, may lack the quality you need long-term. You may also want to check out second-hand stores, outlets for gently used sports equipment, and online marketplaces before you make a huge investment in expensive skates.

Rollerskate Styles

Quad skates are what I typically think of when I think of rollerskates. They have four wheels that sit in two rows of two, like a car. This is not to be confused with inline skates, commonly known as rollerblades, which have a row of wheels down the middle of the boot. 

You will soon discover that rollerskates come in high-top and low-top styles. Naturally, the high-top boots offer more stability and ankle support that is great for beginners. Alternatively, low-top boots feel more like you are wearing a sneaker and offer more movement and flexibility around the ankle for more experienced skaters who like dancing and speed. 

Skate Equipment 

Protective Pads

As someone who has taken up rollerskating in their 30s, making sure my body is protected is a huge priority for me! My ‘old’ bones can’t handle the wipeouts the way they used to! I found an affordable set of pads that included knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards that all work well in reducing the risk of bruises, scrapes and breaks.  


For me, a helmet was also a non-negotiable piece of equipment. When you are learning to skate, you can expect some falls, and you will want to make sure that you keep your head protected. Even professionals run the risk of falling and acquiring a head injury. Get a helmet!

Skate Multi-Tool 

Most skates come with the nuts far too tight. You’ll need a simple skate multi-tool on hand to make adjustments. The wheels should spin freely when you give them a flick. Remember to check your wheels routinely to tighten or loosen as needed. 

Accessories & Extras 

Here are some additional rollerskating accessory ideas. They are by no means necessities to get started, but each offers a level of flare or convenience to your skate gear collection!

  • Carrying Bag – Keeps all your gear in one place and is easy to transport your skates. 
  • Skate Socks – Tall socks with high-top skates help avoid any uncomfortable rubbing on your ankles.
  • Fanny Pack – A great way to carry essential items (wallet, phone, keys, etc.). 
  • Skate Laces – The laces that came with my skates were short and broke easily. Waxed skate laces help prevent loosening, and are long and sturdy. 
  • Toe guards – Cover the nose of your skates to protect from scuffing and damage, prolonging the life of your rollerskates. 

Skating for Beginners

The first time you get on your skates you will almost certainly feel a bit wobbly and out of control. Don’t let this deter you! It takes time to get your footing and adjust your balance to feel more secure. 

The most important thing to pay attention to is your posture. Keep your head UP, shoulders back, and knees nicely BENT. Make sure you lean forward slightly. If you try to stand straight up with your knees locked, you will fall. Place your hands on your thighs for extra support. 

Essential Safety Tips To Get Started:

  1. Put your skates on tightly.
    That means pulling up the tongue of the skate, then starting from the bottom and working your way up, tightening as you go. With snuggly tied skates you will be more in control.

  2. Don’t skate outside when it is wet.
    You will wreck your skates if your hardware becomes rusty and seize up. Also, you might hydroplane if you skate through water, which can be dangerous. 

  3. Avoid very steep hills.
    This is especially important in the beginning. Stopping from high speeds on rollerskates is very difficult even for experienced skaters.

  4. Keep your mind and body relaxed.
    Listening to music can help you get out of your head. Feel your body and how shifting your weight impacts the flow of your movements.

  5. Look where you want to go.
    Pointing your body and looking in a certain direction will help to steer you where you want to go. Alternatively, you’ll want to avoid looking at obstacles directly, to avoid a collision. 

Learning the Basics

I know you are probably getting really excited to jump on your skates and take off doing all of those amazing moves that you saw someone do on the internet! However, I caution you to be patient with yourself and focus on learning the basics.

If you are brand-new to skating, you should know that getting comfortable on skates may take some time. Wobbling and falling are completely normal, and all part of the learning process. Try not to get discouraged if your first few times are more challenging than you had expected-just keep going! 

Feet Positions

Glide Movements

Practice Falling Safely

Ways to stop

Skate Backwards

Practice Skills & Run Drills

The best way to get better is to practice often. Many moves and manoeuvres can be practiced in a small space. The good news is that rollerskate wheels are generally floor-safe, so you could practice anywhere that has a flat smooth surface, like your garage or living room. 

The idea is to practice as frequently as you can, even for a short amount of time. Every day for 20 minutes is better than 4 hours every week or two. So, get out there as much as possible and you will notice your gains!

Find Your Community 

In addition to practicing some simple drills on a regular basis, a great way to hold yourself accountable and enhance your skills is to find some friends or a group that you can skate and practice with. 

  • Check out your area for leagues, meet-ups, workshops, and classes that can support your skill development
  • Follow and engage with rollerskating accounts on social media – there are so many fun and inspiring accounts across Instagram and TikTok
  • Check out tutorials and instructional videos on YouTube that you can practice with friends

If you are in or near the Greater Toronto Area, check out the Rollerskate Toronto Facebook group at The group has a ton of members who share great resources, and information on local events. This is a great place to learn, connect, and ask questions. 

If you happen to live further East of the GTA or frequent the area, check out our new Northumberland Rollerskating Collective (NoCo RoCo) group at and @nocorollerskatingcollective on IG. We are starting to grow a local community of new and experienced skaters and we would love to have you involved!

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