Choosing skates for your kids
Traps to avoid and good tips
Where to buy skates? Avoid supermarkets…
You might find the question stupid, but the choice of the store in which you’ll buy your kid’s skates is determining! Too many parents make the mistake of buying cheap skates available in “food” supermarkets, discount stores or toy stores...
They take the risk of getting bad quality skates which will put their kid off trying after a few minutes. Those skates will end up in a corner of their garage or sold at the next car boot sale.
Most of the time, skates bought in supermarkets are uncomfortable, too rigid, even potentially hurting for kids’ feet and calves. Moreover, most of the times they don’t roll… skates are made for rolling, not for walking!
You’ve got two choices:
- Specialized chains of stores like Decathlon and Go Sport in order to get a better guarantee of quality
- Specialized shops and stores if there are some around your place. You will find products adapted to your kid’s use at reasonable prices… and you’ll help keeping alive shops that do their utmost to propose quality products!
Quad skates (traditional) or inline skates?
This is a tricky question. But whatever the choice, it is better to get good quality products.
- Quad skates are easy to handle and have a good lateral stability, at the expense of speed.
- Inline skates are faster and more stable as for the front-back balance, but not as easy to handle as quad skates...
For indoor use, both will do. For outdoor use, it seems better to opt for inline skates, as quad skates wheels are larger and tend to jam on bumps and dirt on the ground.
What specialty in skating?
Skating has lots of different specialties: street skating, hockey, acrobatics… there’s something for everyone. Once you’ve reached a certain level in your discipline, it is recommended to use the skates corresponding to it. In this article we’re only focusing on leisure practice and discovery of skating for which “generic” skates suit well…
What are the criteria for choosing kid’s skates?
Wheels that turn… at least!
Most parents fear that their kids hurt themselves in falling while skating… thus they very often choose skates the wheels of which hardly turn, depriving their kids of all skating sensations! They lose interest in skating and find themselves walking with their skates on…
Falling is part of skating, and once mastered it can become a game. It’s better to teach kids to fall as soon as their first steps… Besides, the younger you are, the better you tolerate falling: your bones are more elastic, and your center of gravity is lower. A kid is not a miniaturized grown-up!
Then, wheels that turn are not a tragedy. In fact this is where all the pleasure comes from.
Choosing the size: Do not choose one size too big!
Buying skates can be expensive sometimes, according to the family budget. So that parents tend to take two sizes bigger than their kid’s actual size for the skates to last longer… There can be several consequences:
- The skates are so big that the kid’s feet are floating and he can’t control his skates
- The support is not sufficient and the kid cannot skate
- The skate is oversized compared to the kid, too heavy and too cumbersome
- The rubbing is such that it hurts the ankles and the calves of the kid
Given that skates support feet well, you can get up to one size bigger, but you should avoid getting beyond, except if the brand sizes too small. A small margin is good for the foot’s growth but you shouldn’t be too loose!
Today, most of the brands propose adjustable skates, even at low cost...
Adjustable skates: a more expensive solution which happens to be a good option
If you’ve got the budget, it is better to choose a size that fits to the kid’s foot. Adjustable skates accompany the growth of the kid’s foot for 3, 4 even 5 sizes according to the brand you choose. Thus there are no more drawbacks with too big skates and the kid enjoys skating.
For famous brands like Rollerblade, Fila, K2, Roces, the price is between 50 and 120€. Contrarily to non-adjustable skates that will only last a couple of months, they can last several years if you take care of them!
What budget for good junior skates?
That’s a sensitive question!
- In specialized chains of stores, the cheapest pairs are around 25€ and more evolved models are around 70€.
- In specialized stores and shops, it’s between 50€ and 120€ for a leisure pair of skates dedicated to regular use.
Prices oscillate between 25 and 120€, i.e. a median price (not average) of 75€. This is the indicative price of good quality branded skates!
Why such a price difference?
The quality of the material and of the design is the main reason for this difference:
- A rigid boot (low cost) Vs. a more comfortable semi-rigid boot (more expensive).
- A molded plastic frame (low cost) Vs. an aluminum frame (more technique with a better performance)
- A hard plastic break Vs. a soft polyurethane break
- Hard plastic wheels with a small diameter (low cost) Vs. Bigger wheels made of polyurethane
- Difference of precision in the bearings...
- Adjustable or non-adjustable skates
- The finishing (seams, thickness of the liner, comfort…)
What wheel diameter for junior skates?
You must take into consideration the age and the level of your kid. For example, the French Federation of Roller Sports introduced a scale to regulate the wheel diameters in competition. Indeed, the bigger the wheels the higher the skates, and the more the kid’s joints will be stimulated.
Most of the time, beginner skates for leisure practice are equipped with 70 to 76 mm wheels.
It’s better to choose polyurethane wheels, as they have a better grip. Plastic wheels tend to slip, make noise, and are not comfortable. Kids say that polyurethane wheels are made of “rubber”. You can recognize them in testing their hardness with your nail. If you can push it is a bit, it’s a good sign.
Same thing for the brake: it should be made of soft polyurethane, not plastic, otherwise it won’t grip and the kid won’t stop.
Rigid or semi-rigid boot? It depends on the level of the kid…
Rigid boots are not necessarily a bad thing. They offer the maximum support during the learning. But you should consider them as a stage. If your kids knows how to skate, they will like better the comfort of a semi-rigid boot that reacts better to movements…
Do not neglect protections!
...neither the budget! It’s around 15-30€ for a whole pack including:
- Wrist protections
- Knee pads
- Helmet (may not be included)
Even better: some brands propose packs including skates and protections. Especially Rollerblade with the Combo and Cube packs, and K2 with the Annika and Merlin packs…
Generally, the price of a complete pack is around 100€.
You can find anything and everything in shops and choosing a good pair of skates often starts by choosing the right place to buy it. Start by going to a specialized sports store or to a specialized shop if you’ve got a bigger budget. It’s smarter to bet on adjustable skates, more expensive but lasting longer! And you might deal them in second-hand in the future to reinvest in a new pair.
Above all, ban low cost skates with plastic wheels that don’t turn enough. It’s important that your kids enjoy their skating to keep on practicing in the future...
Kids - roller database / catalog on rollerenligne.com (more than 400 skates)
Skating and children: from what age?
Is skating a child’s play?
Test of the Rollerblade Micro Combo Junior skate
Choosing your long distance skates (products comparison)
Choosing your long rides roller-skates (general information)
Choosing skates for your kids
What type of roller-skates will suits you ?
Buying second-hand skates
Pictures: Alfathor, K2, Powerslide, Roces
Translated by Close Yr E’s