By Steve Kopitz
Buying inline skates for you can be a pain free process. However, buying for your child can be a whole different matter. Unlike an adult whose foot has stopped growing, your child’s feet are constantly growing, thus making it hard to find the right size. Of course once you find that right size you may worry that your child’s foot will have grown after one year of use. The purpose of this guide is to help you understand the components of kids inline skates and help you figure out the best skate to purchase for your child.
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There are three different types of skates. There are recreational, roller hockey and aggressive skates. Recreational skates are used for skating, either indoor or outdoor. Kids can use recreational skates in a variety of ways, to skate with parents, to the bus stop, to school or just average daily use. Roller hockey skates are just that, they are used for playing roller hockey, and based on wheels can be used indoor or outdoor. Aggressive skates are for the kids that are looking to do tricks, jump off ramps and grind. They are definitely not a good skate for just skating around in.
The most important part of an inline skate, from a comfort standpoint, is the boot. The boot of the skate is what holds your kids foot in place and ultimately determines how much they will enjoy inline skating. If the skate you purchase for your child has a good boot and keeps there feet feeling good then they will probably enjoy inline skating. On the flip side, if the skate you purchase doesn’t offer a decent boot, there poor little feet will start aching and hurting after each skating session and they may never want to skate again, which of course leads to money wasted when the skates aren’t used and your child ultimately grows out of them. To avoid such calamity, it is best to understand the components of a solid inline skate boot so you know what to look for when shopping for your child’s inline skate. If you do so, you can be assured that you won’t be throwing your money away…plus there feet will feel good too!
Nowadays skate boots are made with a soft boot for total comfort while skating. It sure beats the heck out of those old school plastic skates. The plastic style may be cheap but your kid’s feet will be so sore they may give up skating until they reach adulthood. The new soft boot will provide your child with a soft, comfortable feeling that will have them enjoying the inline skating experience.
Sizing is the most important part of picking an inline skate for your child. As you may know kid’s feet grow very quickly, which makes getting a skate a tricky ordeal. Your kid may wear a size 2 but after one season they could jump to a size 4, thus making that brand new skate un-usable. With that in mind its best to find an adjustable skate. Adjustable skates will allow you to adjust the size of the skate in some cases up to four sizes and it’s very easy to do. When deciding on an adjustable skate you want to start with a size that is close to where your child is now. For example if your child wears a size 11, you would want to select a skate that is sized 11-1. If your child is a size 1, to be safe and to get maximum use you would select a 1-4 or 2-5 skate.
Another factor to consider when purchasing an inline skate for your child is the type of closure/lacing system that is offered. Ideally you want to get something that your child can do on their own so they can put the skate on a take off without any assistance from you the parent.
Laces: Just as it’s written, these skates are closed by laces, which are tied like a regular shoe and also come with a buckle, or strap for additional fit and stability.
BOA: This is a very easy option that your child will be able to do on their own. There is a dial on the front of the skate that your child will turn until they get a nice tight, secure and comfortable fit.
Speedlace: This is also an easy way for your child to tighten their skates. Features a pull tab so to speak as they will simply grab the lace and pull to get a nice tight, secure and comfortable fit.
Like other elements of inline skating, wheels have seen their fair share of advancements over the years. Wheels that you find on modern inline skates are manufactured from polyurethane. Seldom will you find wheels made of any other material, unlike decades ago when inline skating began its emergence. Many skates manufactured in the 1980s and 1990s had plastic wheels, which were ineffective and cracked easily. Nowadays, very few skates (typically skates for children) offer anything but a polyurethane wheel.
When you’re shopping for and comparing inline skates, there are several items that you will want to consider regarding wheels, including wheel size, durometer rating (hardness), and the type of skating you will be doing.
Size: Inline skate wheels for kids typically run in size between 70-79mm. These wheels are found on recreational skates. Kids are just learning how to skate and are much smaller than adults and therefore don’t need the big speed skating wheels. On aggressive skates the wheels are between 50-59mm. The reason for this is your child will need high rates of acceleration to perform tricks and jumps.
Ratings and Types: Inline skate bearings are an essential part of inline skates. Bearings will determine the smoothness of your childs’s ride when skating and also there ability to reach higher speeds. When shopping for an inline skate, you’ll no doubt come across a few skates that interest you, but the real question will be how to determine their significant differences and what makes one better than the other. One such way to distinguish some differences is through the skate bearings. Different companies have their bearings systems rated differently. For example Rollerblade uses the ABEC scale with 1 being the lowest and 9 the highest or faster and more smooth bearing. K2 is the same as far as the number rating but their rating is labeled ILQ as opposed to the ABEC of Rollerblade.
As you can see there is a little more involved to picking out the right size and type of skate for your child. The best size would be to get an adjustable so your child will get more use out of the skate. There are also different lacing options to take into consideration. Hopefully, this guide was a big help in deciding the best type of skate for your child.
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