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What Equipment Do I Need To Buy?

If your child still wants to skate after taking a few lessons, it’s time to buy skates and safety equipment. (Many skate shops will deduct the rental price from the cost of a new pair of skates).

Buying skates and gear is generally a four-step process:

  1. Choose the type of skate. Recreational/fitness skates are fine for most beginners. If your child is a good skater who plays a lot of hockey, buy skates designed for street hockey, which are built to be quick and mobile and to withstand a lot of contact from sticks, pucks and, yes, crashes. Aggressive skates cost more and are designed for the more advanced, competitive skater.

  2. Comparison shop. The big-name companies (Rollerblade, UltraWheels et. al.) know that parents don’t want to spend upwards of $100 on skates every year as their kids grow, so they have joined such manufacturers of less expensive skates (such as Variflex and Seneca) in offering recreational skates for the mass market in the $20 to $80 range. Best bet: look for skates in the $60 to $80 range, which you can upgrade later.

  3. Check How The Skates Fit. The skates should provide good ankle support. When your child bends at the knees, his heel shouldn’t lift up at all. The skates should be snug, but he should still be able to wiggle his toes.

  4. Buy Protective Gear. Your child needs:

    • A helmet certified by the American National Standards Institute, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the Snell Memorial Foundation, or the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Bicycle helmets offer some protection to in-line skaters, but aggressive skaters should look for helmets sold specifically for the sport that cover more of the head, especially in the back.

    • Wrist guards. The CPSC reports that as many as one-third of in-line skating emergency room treated injuries could be prevented or lessened in severity by the use of wrist guards.

    • Kneepads

    • Elbow pads

Both the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believe that wearing proper safety gear (helmet, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads) is essential for safe skating and to prevent injuries. The statistics bear out their recommendations: half of those injured inline skating were not wearing any safety gear; skaters wearing full gear accounted for only 7% of the injuries!