Do you love skating so much you want to skate when there isn’t a session on as well? Or do you want some skates that fit you perfectly? Is your birthday or Christmas coming up? Buying your own skates can seem complicated at first – after all, there are so many styles and brands out there to choose from – but hopefully this guide can help you make the right choice.
When buying any pair of skates, an important thing to consider is whether to buy adjustable or fixed size skates. If your or your child’s feet are still growing, adjustable skates may be the better option, as they will be grown out of much more slowly. However, adjustable skates are not as comfortable as fixed size, so if you/they have sensitive feet it is probably best to buy fixed size.
Another thing to think about is the support you get from the skates. An adult or older child with a heavy build will often be better in rigid skates rather than fabric. Most people also benefit from skates with plenty of support round the ankle, particularly in blades, where there should be little sideways movement. However this has to be weighed against comfort.
It is always better to try on skates before you buy them, as each brand/style will fit slightly differently. If this is not possible, however, feel free to come in and try on some of our skates during a public skating session to find out which brand and style is the best fit for you.
Buying quads: (wheels in each corner)
For beginners, most cheap skates are fine. They are usually adjustable, and slow enough to give you or your child confidence as you learn to skate. Hard plastic wheels are fine for quads for beginners, but if you want something faster, rubber (PU) wheels are much better. Think of the difference between a dolly’s pushchair and one for a baby. One word of warning though – if your child has got used to the rubber wheeled skates we have at Penistone Leisure Centre, a pair of cheaper skates will feel slow and will give a rougher ride.
Once past the complete beginner stage, try SFR and Rio Roller – or more advanced is Ventro Pro and Roces. These have good wheels, and Rio Roller is especially good if you prefer laces to clips. Clips can break if used improperly, so if you are worried about this, go for a pair with laces. See where to buy further down this page.
Buying blades/inline skates: (wheels down the centre)
Even for beginners, do not buy blades with hard plastic wheels as they skid and make it difficult to skate. This is the type sold in most toy shops or stores such as Argos – children might love the look of ones with Frozen or Spider-Man on but they won’t enjoy skating in them. SFR are a good choice, but be wary with the fastenings – if the clips are slammed down, they can get bent inwards and eventually break. Xcess, Oxelo (from Decathlon) and Blindside (from Smyths) are also good choices for beginners.
Good brands for intermediate and fast skaters include Roces, Bauer, K2, Rollerblade, Bladerunner and Salomon. All of these have a range of prices and you do, on the whole, get what you pay for – but for most people, the lower end of the prices is fine. Most important is a good, comfortable fit. If you or your child’s feet are still growing, finding adjustable skates is a massive help, especially while between sizes.
Where to buy your skates:
We buy most of our skates from eBay, as you can get very good skates for much less money, but of course, you cannot guarantee they will fit and there might be problems you cannot see. If you want a more expensive brand it can be a huge saving, though. Skate Hut and Skate Warehouse do a good range of skates – any that you buy from either will have good wheels and be high quality. You can return skates to either if they don’t fit properly, and it is free with Skate Hut – but check their policies fully on the websites. Locally, Decathlon in Sheffield (inline only) and Smyths at Cortonwood sell good beginner skates, although we haven’t checked all the types sold by Smyths. The main thing to do is tap the wheels with a fingernail and decide if it makes a hard tapping sound or a more muted rubber sound – you want the rubber ones as they will stick to the floor when you push and won’t slip on corners.
And finally, fitting!
Once you’ve got your skates, make sure to do them up well. The tongue should be on the inside against the front of your foot/leg, which means the fastenings can be done as tightly as possible. We recommend knee, elbow and wrist guards and a helmet as well, which you can get from the same place as you are buying your skates.
If you have any comments on other good places to buy skates, or brands you like that we’ve missed, please add to the comments below. If you have questions, you can also add them here or talk to us when you are next at skating.