The whole point of roller skating is to enjoy the thrill that kicks in when you roller skate faster. Expert speed skaters can skate super fast while maintaining a balance.
You can make your roller skates faster by applying several techniques along with undergoing endurance training. Upgrading the wheels, frame, and bearings of your roller skates also give you a faster-paced performance.
Roller Skate Upgrades
Many skaters do not realize the importance of upgrading their roller skates. Just like other kinds of sports gear that give you a better performance when you upgrade them, roller skates are no exception. Upgrading your skates will make your skating session more enjoyable due to the performance and speed it brings out in your roller skates. There are three main components of your skates that you can upgrade:
Let us dig into each component in detail and see how it can affect the speed of our skates.
Besides the different skates for roller and inline skating, the wheels of your roller skates can be classified into two main categories – indoor wheels and outdoor wheels.
The outdoor wheels of your roller skates are relatively softer and have a higher rebound rate as compared to the indoor wheels. Make sure you check the wheels and see if they are for the right indoor/ outdoor purpose for you. If you plan to skate both indoors and outdoors, it is better to either get both wheels and switch them around depending upon the place you are skating, or if this is not possible, go for the outdoor wheels. Though it may sound hard to switch between indoor and outdoor wheels, it is pretty easy to do so.
In the case of your indoor skating, the indoor wheels come in different levels of hardness, referred to as Durometer ratings. These hardness ratings are 92A, 95A, and 97A. The lower the number is, the softer will your wheels be.
You need to know exactly where you will be skating indoors. If you plan to skate on a standard indoor surface, go for 97A. For slippery indoor surfaces, use 95A wheels. In case of a very slippery indoor surface, go for 92A.
The Durometer ratings have a different range for outdoor skates. The range starts from 78A which is the softest to 85A where you get the hardest outdoor wheel. Ask yourself how hard you want the wheel to be and then pick the one that corresponds to your required Durometer ratings.
Not only the hardness or the softness but the size of your skate wheels can also make a difference when you upgrade your skates. The bigger the size of your wheels is, the more roll you will obtain from the wheels with the least amount of force exerted. Not only that, but large wheels also ignore the uneven textured floors (primarily due to impurities) of outdoors.
Typical sizes are from 58 mm to 70 mm, while 62 mm is generally the most popular among skaters.
If you are into indoor or artistic skates, you will find prefer smaller wheels for better maneuverability and higher precision. Having said that, such wheels are mostly recommended for expert skaters. If you are a beginner, it is better to go with larger wheels in your roller skates.
If you want to upgrade only one thing in your roller skates, upgrade the skate bearings. If you have purchased a roller skate that is not too expensive, it will come with bearings that belong to the lower end of the spectrum, and hence your wheels will not roll as efficiently as a skate with high-end skate bearings. This is because the bearing that is not of great quality do not reduce the friction created between the axle and your wheels. The result is resistance towards high speed. Better quality bearings, on the other hand, roll in a smoother and hence faster pace.
Now the question is, how do you know what kind of bearings your roller skates originally come with? Most of the skate bearings are rated on the ABEC (Annual Bearing Engineering Committee) scale. The ABEC ranges are from 1 to 9 for roller skates depending upon the quality of the bearing material as well as how smooth the polish on these bearings is. The higher the ABEC number is, the faster the skate bearing will be.
There is an additional bearing rating known as the Swiss bearing which is slightly different (in terms of standards) than the ABEC ratings. No matter what bearing rating system you go for, keep in mind that once you install the required bearings (you can ask your skate shop to do that if you do not know how to) these bearings will take some time to break in. So, while the first few times after upgrading may not be the fastest you have ever been, you will soon realize that your roller skates are getting faster as your bearings become comfortable coordinating with your skates.
Another way you can upgrade your roller skates to make them faster is to change the plates at the bottom of your boots. Generally, these plates are either metal-based (mostly aluminum) or plastic-based (such as high-quality vinyl or nylon).
The metal plates are normally installed in roller skates that are relatively cheaper whereas you will find expensive roller skates with plastic plates. Metal plates are comparatively heavier than plastic ones, and their weight negatively impacts the speed of your skates. The plastic plates may be more expensive, but they are lighter in weight and hence easier to maneuver. However, if you plan to do a lot of jumping on your roller skates, it is better to go with metal plates as plastic and vinyl ones are not as strong.
If you are a rough rider, go for metal plates; but if you are into speed skates, it is a good idea to upgrade your roller skates with a good quality plastic/ vinyl plate.
Your skating and balancing techniques play a vital role in making your skating faster. Start with standing still and balancing on one skate and then alternate the skates. Then, practice balancing on one skate while you roll. What you want to achieve is to have a perfect balance while you skate fast.
Next, push one of the skates and keep the other one straight as it glides – as if you are on a skateboard. Do the same with the other foot.
Just as balancing is important for better speed, your body posture and properly transferring your body weight play a vital role. Do not twist your chest or shoulders – the motion should generate below your waist area. This way, you can increase the speed with minimum effort. You can lean forward slightly and move your arms back and forth instead of crossing them over in order to prevent your shoulders from twisting.
While you stride, ensure that your strides are diagonally pushing outwards where each stride should be perpendicular to the previous one. Do not stride with your skates in a straight direction as this will absorb your energy and reduce the speed. When you stride diagonally, you get a carving motion that increases your speed. The same goes for skating backward. Make sure that your hockey pants are not too long and don’t restrict your movement.
Roller skating can be exhausting (though fun) so you need to push through even when your body feels tired. It is common for many beginners to feel not only physical but mental pain in their skating sessions. While it is natural to feel tired due to the strides, the whole point is not to let that feeling reduce your speed and enthusiasm, conquer it, and continue moving forward.
Endurance drills help you in getting the focus you need to skate for a long interval. You can enroll in either endurance training programs, or do them on your own by practicing speed skating.
Set benchmarks for yourself and each time you are out skating, push a little harder and try going faster. Give yourself competition and challenges. Every time you beat your previous “best” performance, you are going one step faster and getting one step better.
With proper skating techniques and endurance drills, you can skate at a greater pace for a longer duration. Also, whether it is frame, bearings, or wheels – do not be afraid of upgrading your roller skates as they bring in better top speed and hence a greater performance.