Different Types of Roller Skates – Choose the Right Type

Regardless of whether you do it yourself or not, roller skating is a much loved activity for many.

However, in spite of its popularity, few casual skaters realise that there’s a wide variety of different roller skates you can purchase and use.

Most of us know of indoor or outdoor skates, and that roller skates are different from inline skates, but beyond that we remain quite clueless.

Yet there are several more types of skates that are better suited to different environments/scenarios, e.g. some skates are better for competitive performance, while others are designed for high speeds.

Table of Contents

Different Types

Outdoor Skates

Much like the name suggests, these skates are meant to be worn for outdoor skating.

Given how uneven the surface of pavements and roads can be, it makes sense to opt for outdoor specific boots, because the wheels are designed to give a smooth roll even when going over bumpy surfaces.As a result of this, the wheels of these skates are often described as being “softer” so that they can allow this more comfortable, smooth experience. In regards to other details of the boots, they can be low or high top, and come in a variety of styles and colours.

Indoor Skates

These types of skates are also self-explanatory; they are meant to be used for indoor skating.

When you’re someone who intends to skate on a skating rink and/or do performative roller skating, then these are the boots you want. Also sometimes called “artistic skates”, they are made of leather and typically have a sturdy steel plate to help with the impact of any jumping moves performed.


What is more, they tend to be of a high top design, simply so that the ankles are better supported throughout your routines. Combined with this, you’ll also find that the wheels are more narrow than outdoor skates, to allow for greater precision when moving.

Artistic/Rhythm Skates

As mentioned above, artistic skates are nothing more than another term for indoor roller skate. Sometimes you’ll see them marketed specifically as artistic due to the brand you’re purchasing and/or the shop you’re purchasing from. The boots very much look like those for ice skating or figure skating.


This nickname for indoor skate is merely used to reflect the main choice of activity most people where these types of roller skates are used. The same can be said of “rhythm skates”, with that name simply reflecting the maneuverability needed when carrying out a dance routine while skating.

Speed Skates

When it comes to fast pacing, speed skates are what you’ll need.

Designed to keep you moving with greater momentum, these skating shoes are typically lower cut so that they sit more like the type of pumps you wear during P.E/in gym at school. In addition to the low design, the wheels used are made to go faster across large distances, which is hugely important for those primarily using them for speed skating competitions.


However, speed skates are also used for a specific type of dancing called “jam dancing/skating”. The reason being is because the design allows better freedom of movement while also moving at higher speeds.

Jam Skates

In a similar fashion to indoor skates and their artistic nickname, jam skates are simply speed skates.


Jam skating is a unique combination of dance, roller skating, and gymnastics, much like the disco heyday of the roller skating craze. Therefore, it makes sense that these types of skates are preferred: they’re fast and flexible.

Roller Derby Skates

Nearly everyone has heard of a roller derby, a form of roller skating that was at its peak in the 1930s.


Although a lot has changed since then, the specific style of boots hasn’t. Just like speed skates, roller derby skates have a low cut, four wheel design, with the entire boot shape designed to withstand a beating. Roller derbies are fast and furious, so your boots need to be able to last well and within close quarters.

Unlike some boots which lack comfort, roller derby skates are extremely comfortable and mould well to your feet. However, while they bring a lot of comfort, they can also be incredibly expensive, especially when you start to look at professional grade roller derby boots.

Roller Derby Roller Star 600 Women's Roller Skates - White/Purple/Blue - Size 07
  • Freestyle comfort fit boot with padded lining, reinforced heel support, and lace closure
  • RTX Pro Chassis has real trucks and cushions for precision turning
  • 56mm Urethane wheels work on multiple surfaces
  • Smooth rolling G-Force 608ZB (carbon) bearings
  • Women’s U.S. shoe sizes


In the world of roller skates, there’s far more than outdoor and indoor quad skates to choose from. However, while there are several variations, a lot of the names/types we see do the same as another kind of boot, e.g. indoor and artistic skating boots.

To ensure you select the right type for you, you need to take into consideration not only your skill levels but also the main type of activity you’ll be engaging in. For example, will you predominantly use them for outdoor skating, or will you be hoping to perform dance routines in your skates?

Once you have these specific details down, you’ll be able to purchase the right type of roller skates without much hassle at all.

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Written by James Burton
Hey everyone! I'm James Burton, and I love being a chef. It's my full time job and I love it. But what some of you may not know is that I also have a side hustle as a roller skating trainer. In fact, I do it for fun now - it's not my main source of income or anything. But I love it, and I blog about it in my spare time. I'm from Irvine, California and I love spending time with my family and friends. We like to go out and have fun - play sports, go to the beach, etc. And when I'm not working or training (or blogging), you can usually find me eating!