Comparing Roller Skating vs Ice Skating vs Rollerblading

    a comparison of the different types of skating

    skating is so much fun! Whether you’re ice skating, inline skating, or roller skating, all of these activities are great fun and a good cardio workout, too. In this article, I’m going to compare and contrast four-wheel skating, ice skating, and roller skating to help you decide which is best for you.

    whether you’re new to skating or really good at these two sports and just want to get into the debate, this article goes over the differences between quad roller skates, ice skates, and inline skates (or skates). and discusses the different skating surfaces, mechanics & techniques and the surprising health benefits of skating.

    If you’re more interested in the differences between the various types of skates, be sure to check out my article Skates, Skates, and Inline Skates.

    a brief history of roller skating & ice skating

    what is roller skating?

    roller skating is where skaters walk on shoes with wheels attached to their feet. roller skating is the act of moving on skates. it can be done for transportation, recreation, or competition purposes.

    history of roller skating

    the history of roller skating begins in the 18th century. The roller skate was first “officially” introduced by John Joseph Merlin, a Belgian investor. Merlin is the first recorded inventor of the skate, although a pair of skates was documented to have made its first public appearance at a London stage performance in 1747.

    in 1819, monsieur petitbled, a frenchman, patented the design of a three-wheeled roller skate. four years later, robert john tyers, a london inventor, also patented another skate design, which he aptly called rolito. this skate had 5 wheels in line and was easier to maneuver.

    In 1863, James Plimpton of New York City set out to improve roller skate design. Instead of adding more wheels, Plimpton used four: two at the front and two at the rear. what today we would call the modern quad skate.

    what is ice skating?

    Ice skating is a fun activity that many people consider a part of winter. it’s similar to roller skating, but it’s on ice instead of smooth surfaces.

    Ice skates have sharp blades attached to the bottom to make sliding across the ice easier. ice skating also requires protective gear such as helmets, knee and elbow pads if you plan on doing tricks and staying upright.

    history of ice skating

    The history of ice skating dates back hundreds of years. Evidence has been found to suggest that people have skated on frozen ponds for over a thousand years in the Netherlands. The first type of ice skate was made of bones, usually ox or deer, and was fastened just below the ankle to keep your feet steady while skating.

    Later, around the 9th century, the “hose impedidis” appeared, which are shoes or cuffs worn over the shoe to provide more grip when walking on icy surfaces. there is also evidence of Mongolian horsemen wearing down their boots by slipping on the ice while traveling.

    only in the fourteenth century do we find written references to ice skating as such. at the time, skates were made with a metal blade in the shape of a shovel attached to the sole of a boot.

    comparing & contrasting roller skating, ice skating and inline skating

    mechanics & techniques involved in ice skating and roller skating

    stop & braking

    Roller skates and inline skates have built-in brakes, while ice skates and aggressive inline skates don’t have this stopping device. however, there are many techniques that I show in my article on stopping on skates that can also be used when rollerblading, rollerblading, inline skating, or ice skating. these include the t-stop, plow stop, hockey stop, and more.


    Both ice skating and roller skating involve balance. Keeping your balance on quad skates is easier than on roller skates or ice skates. Quad skates allow your weight to be more easily distributed over the two skate wheels in the front and back. Ice skates and skates, on the other hand, have a single blade or set of wheels, all in one line. this makes it more difficult to balance.

    slide / skate

    roller skating and ice skating are similar when it comes to actual sliding. Both roller and ice skaters push each other from side to side to skate. Whether you’re on a smooth ice surface or a nice wooden-floored skating rink, all skaters balance, push, and slide.

    skating surface

    The skating surface also differs greatly between roller skating and ice skating. In roller skating, just about any flat surface free of debris will do. a natural surface like asphalt, concrete, or wood works great. The most popular roller skating rinks include parks, skate parks, and roller skating rinks. for ice skating, you obviously need an icy surface. Large ice surfaces for skating include a frozen lake, frozen ponds, and ice rinks. For both roller and ice skating, a smooth surface is key.

    popularity of roller & ice skating

    These two sports are popular but in different ways. One big difference in popularity is that many ice skating sports are in the Olympic games. speed skating, ice hockey and figure skating are practiced on ice skates and are very popular attracting thousands of people to those sports. ice skating is also popular where it is cold and a good icy surface can be found.

    Roller skating is more popular recreationally in warmer climates where the weather is nice and you can skate outdoors or at a roller skating rink. Unfortunately, there are no roller sports at the Olympic Games.

    health benefits of skating

    The health benefits of ice skating compared to roller skating are pretty much the same. all skating is great for the heart, lungs, and the rest of the cardiovascular system. It’s also great for all lower muscle groups: legs, buttocks, and ankles. Plus, it’s a lot more fun than running.

    roller and ice skating sports

    ice hockey & roller hockey

    The object of ice hockey is to score more goals than the opposing team by using a stick to throw a puck into the opposing team’s net. This ice skating game is played on any good ice surface. each team has six players on the ice at a time: a goalie whose sole job is to stop the other team from scoring and five additional players who try to score and defend.

    The goal of roller hockey is similar to that of ice hockey: to score more goals than the other team. the only difference is that roller hockey is not played on ice but on skating rinks, parking lots or any smooth surface.

    skate race

    Roller derby is an awesome and aggressive sport for those who want to see skaters go fast, perform difficult moves, and take a nasty fall or two hundred. this sport involves two teams competing to have their lead skater lap the other team on the floor. the more skaters the leading skater passes, the more points the team will get from him. of course the opposing team is trying to prevent that from happening and it makes for some pretty awesome action and collisions. this sport is not for the faint of heart.

    figure skating

    this kind of ice skating is in the olympics. Skaters use figure skates to perform ice skating tricks such as jumps, spins, and dance moves, all while gliding across the ice. this type of ice skating requires years of practice and dedication to master. figure skating also exists on the roller skating side, although it is not as popular as in ice skating. the two sports are similar but on different surfaces and using different types of skates.

    comparing & contrasting four wheel skates, inline skates and ice skates

    quad skates

    quad skates have a boot with an attached skate plate for smooth roller skating. They have a built-in brake and are perfect for those who want to start skating. The four wheels of the skateboard are side by side with two wheels in the front and two in the back for maximum stability.

    online & skates

    Inline and inline skates are similar to ice skates in that they have a blade attached to a skate plate that is then attached to the boot of the skate. the difference is that the blade is made of 3-5 wheels compared to metal blades. Inline skates and aggressive inline skates also differ from each other in that inline skates have a tall, hard deck boot with wider wheels that makes it easier for beginning skaters to balance. aggressive speed skates have low-cut boots and tall wheels for inline speed skates, while aggressive roller hockey skates have tall boots and shorter, stubby wheels.

    ice skates

    Ice skates have boots with metal blades attached to the bottom. When ice skating, these metal blades glide nicely on the ice to allow the skater to move. Ice skate blades are a thin blade that is only a few inches in size. this thin blade under the boot can be hard to learn to balance, but with enough practice ice skating is a lot of fun.

    frequently asked questions

    which skate is best for beginners?

    quad roller skating is best for beginners.

    Stability and balance are the most important things when you first learn to skate, no matter if it’s ice skating, roller skating or inline skating. Quad skates provide more stability due to their design. Each skate has four wheels with two wheels in the front and two in the back side by side to more evenly distribute your body weight throughout the skate. many quad skate wheels can also be locked to make them roll slower. check out my article on how to make roller skates slower for more on that topic.

    opt for a high top boot and soft wheels for outdoor skates for the best stability. Some new skaters prefer inline skates to quads because most inline skates come with an extra hard firm boot for better stability. although still more difficult than quad roller skating, some skaters feel this extra firm boot is enough to give them the stability they need to pick first in line.

    Another advantage of roller skating is that you can do it anywhere: skate parks, regular parks, a parking lot, your garage or basement, or a fancy skating rink. you just have so many more options for practicing roller skating.

    However, if you have a frozen pond in your backyard and it snows 9 months out of the year, then I think ice skating is your best first choice. As with anything in life, practice makes perfect. weekly practice is necessary to be good at any type of skating. choose the skating option that is easiest for you to access regularly and stick with it.

    is it easier to skate or ice skate?

    Skating is easier because the wheels are wider than the ice skate blade. Inline skates also have a firm, hard boot that helps with stability.

    Is ice skating easier than roller skating?

    no. quad roller skating is the easiest, followed by roller skating, then ice skating.

    Is it hard to roller skate if you can ice skate?

    no. it should be easier for you. you already have balance and stability downstairs if you can ice skate. roller skating or inline skating and ice skating intersect quite well. if you can ice skate then you should be able to skate or inline skate and vice versa. Switching from ice skates to quads can take a bit more getting used to, but should be easy as quad skates provide more stability.

    Is roller skating getting easier?

    with practice, roller skating becomes much easier. If you’re just starting out, it may take a few months of regular practice several times a week to get good at roller skating. If you’re a beginner and need more help, be sure to check out my articles on how to roller skate and how to roller skate. both provide more information to help you get started. Also, be sure to sign up for the roller skating club. In my club emails, I send tips and tricks that help beginning skaters. It’s free to join.

    want to learn even more about skating?

    want more skate reviews? check out my best skates page for a list of all the quads i recommend. I also have pages for men’s roller skates, women’s roller skates and children’s roller skates where I recommend the best skates on the market today for each group. or check out my beginner skates if you’re completely new to roller skating.

    or, if inline skates or inline skates are more your style, check out my pages on inline skates for men, inline skates for women, or inline skates for kids. or, if you’re completely new, check out my page on inline skates for beginners.

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