Roller skating

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People roller skating Neck and neck.jpg
People roller skating

Roller skating is traveling on surfaces with roller skates. It is a recreational activity, a sport, and a form of transportation. Roller rinks and skate parks are built for roller skating, though it also takes place on streets, sidewalks, and bike paths.


Roller skating originated in the performing arts in the 18th century. It gained widespread popularity starting in the 1880s. Roller skating was very popular in United States from the 1930s to 1950s, then again in the 1970s when it was associated with disco music and roller discos. During the 1990s, inline outdoor roller skating became popular. Roller skating has often been a part of Black and LGBT history in particular.

Sport roller skating includes speed skating, roller hockey, roller derby, figure skating and aggressive quad skating.


Roller skates in the United States around 1905 Roller skating c 1905.jpg
Roller skates in the United States around 1905

The earliest roller skates known are from 18th century Europe. These skates were used in theater and musical performances, possibly to simulate ice skating onstage. Early roller skating was done in a straight line because turning or curving was very difficult with the primitive skate designs of the time. Limited to an occasional performance prop at the time, roller skating would not see widespread use until the 1840s. [1] :7–9

Waitresses in an 1840s beer hall in Berlin used roller skates to serve customers. Ballet and opera of the late 1840s, such as Le prophète , featured roller skating. This helped to make roller skating popular for the first time, in 1850s Europe. Technological improvements helped as well, such as rubber wheels in 1859 and four-wheeled turning skates in 1863. [1] :9–13 The popularity of roller skating has fluctuated greatly since then; it is typically called a "craze" at its high points. [2] [3] [4]

Roller skating boomed in popularity from 1880 to 1910; roller skates were mass produced and skating in rinks became popular with the general public in Europe, North and South America, and Australia. [5] [1] :25 Specialized types of roller skating appeared in this period, such as figure skating and speed skating.

After a decline in popularity, roller skating became widespread again in the 1930s to the 1950s. This era is known as the Golden Age of Roller Skating. Many skating rinks offering electric organ music were built throughout the United States in this period. [1] :89–91

In the 1970s, roller disco became widespread. This style of skating originated with disco music predominantly among Black and gay skaters. [6] During the late 1980s and the 1990s, outdoor and indoor inline skating (with "rollerblades") became popular. Roller skating declined in popularity in the early 21st century, but became more popular again during the COVID pandemic. [7] [3]

Roller skating has long been tied to Black American social movements, immigrant communities, and the LGBT community, particularly for women in roller derby. As a hobby it is perceived as whimsical and is widely accessible. [8]

Historical timeline

Young man on the Edvard Petrini's pedaled roller skates, known as Takypod in Sweden, circa 1910 Roller skates, 1910.jpg
Young man on the Edvard Petrini's pedaled roller skates, known as Takypod in Sweden, circa 1910
An advert for an early 20th-century model which fit over ordinary shoes 1908-PatinsRoulettes.jpg
An advert for an early 20th-century model which fit over ordinary shoes
A 24-hour roller skating endurance competition in Paris, held in 1911 Patin d'Or Roller Skating Competition Paris 1911.jpg
A 24-hour roller skating endurance competition in Paris, held in 1911
A crowd of roller skaters watch an exhibition in Chicago in 1939. Crowds watching roller-skating exhibition, Chicago, Illinois.jpg
A crowd of roller skaters watch an exhibition in Chicago in 1939.

Types of roller skating


Stopless quad skate plates Wiki sk8 pair1.png
Stopless quad skate plates

Artistic roller skating is a sport which consists of a number of events. These are usually accomplished on quad skates, but inline skates may be used for some events. Various flights of events are organized by age and ability/experience. In the US, local competitions lead to 9 regional competitions which led to the National Championships and World Championships.


A prescribed movement symmetrically composed of at least two circles, but not more than three circles, involving primary, or primary and secondary movements, with or without turns. Figures are skated on circles, which have been inscribed on the skating surface. [21] [22]


In competition skaters can enter more than one event;

Solo Dance; solo dance a competition starts at tiny tot and goes up to golden, for a test it starts with bronze and goes up to gold. You do not have to take tests anymore to skate in harder categories, you must have a couple of tests once you get to a certain event, though. In competition, these dances are set patterns and the judges give you marks for good edges, how neat they look and how well they do turns, etc.

Team Dance; this is where two people skate together doing the set dances. Most people skate with a partner the same ability and age.

Skaters are judged by the accuracy of steps that they skate when performing a particular dance. In addition to being judged on their edges and turns, skaters must carry themselves in an elegant manner while paying careful attention to the rhythm and timing of the music.


Freestyle roller dancing is a style of physical movement, usually done to music, that is not choreographed or planned ahead of time. It occurs in many genres, including those where people dance with partners. By definition, this kind of dance is never the same from performance to performance, although it can be done formally and informally, sometimes using some sparse choreography as a very loose outline for the improvisation.

Precision teams

A team of skaters (usually counted in multiples of four) creates various patterns and movements to music. Often used elements include skating in a line, skating in a box, "splicing" (subgroups skating towards each other such that they do not contact each other), and skating in a circle. The team is judged on its choreography and the ability to skate together precisely, and jumps and spins are not as important. In this category, they are classified as "small groups" (6 to 15 people) or "big groups" (16 to 30 skaters). These show groups are also divided due to the level and ages.

Singles and pairs

A single skater or a pair of skaters present routines to music. They are judged on skating ability and creativity. Jumps, spins and turns are expected in these events. Sometimes with a pair or couple skaters slow music will play, and usually it is two songs.

Speed skating

Speed skating originally started on traditional roller skates, quads or four wheels per skate. The first organized, national competition was held in 1938 in Detroit Michigan at the Arena Gardens Roller Rink, once home of "Detroit's Premier Sports Palace. The Arena opened in 1935 as roller skating began its ascension as a top sport. [16] In the early years, competitors representing the mid-west states, primarily Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio dominated the sport. By 1950 as rinks hired speed skating coaches who trained competitors, the east and west coast began to compete effectively for the national titles. But in the early years, national titles were dominated by Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati.

As rules were established for state and national competitions, the speed skating season began in fall and continued through spring leading up to a state tournament. Eventually approximately 1947, due to the growth of speed skating, the top three places at a state tournament would qualify skaters for a regional tournament. The top three places at regional tournaments then went on to compete at a national tournament. Skaters could qualify as individuals or as part of a two-person or four-person (relay) team. Qualification at regional events could warrant an invite to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO for a one-week training session on their outdoor velodrome. Inline speed skating is a competitive non-contact sport on inline skates. Variants include indoor, track and road racing, with many different grades of skaters, so the whole family can compete.

Jam Skating

Jam skating is a skating style consisting of a combination of dance, gymnastics, and roller skating, performed on roller skates. Jam skating is the predominant style of skating featured in the documentary film United Skates . [23]

Group skating

Inline roller skater on a slalom course Inline skating.jpg
Inline roller skater on a slalom course

Among skaters not committed to a particular discipline, a popular social activity is the group skate or street skate, in which large groups of skaters regularly meet to skate together, usually on city streets. One such group is the San Francisco Midnight Rollers. In 1989 the small 15–20 group that became the Midnight Rollers explored the closed doubIe-decker Embarcadero Freeway after the Loma-Prieta earthquake until it was torn down. [24] At which point the new route was created settling on Friday nights at 9 pm from the San Francisco Ferry Building circling 12 miles around the city back at midnight to the start. [25] [26] [27] [28] Although such touring existed among quad roller skate clubs in the 1970s and 1980s, it made the jump to inline skates in 1990 with groups in large cities throughout the United States. In some cases, hundreds of skaters would regularly participate, resembling a rolling party. In the late 1990s, the group skate phenomenon spread to Europe and east Asia. The weekly Friday night skate in Paris, France (called Pari Roller [29] ) is believed to be one of the largest repeating group skates in the world. At times, it has had as many as 35,000 skaters participating on the boulevards of Paris, on a single night. The Sunday Skate Night in Berlin also attracts over 10,000 skaters during the summer, and Copenhagen, Munich, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Tokyo host other popular events. Charity skates in Paris have attracted 50,000 participants (the yearly Paris-Versailles skate). The current Official Guinness World Record holder is Nightskating Warszawa (Poland) in number of 4013 participants from 19 June 2014, but their real record from 25 April 2015, is 7303 participants and over 38 000 skaters total in 10 events in season 2015.

Aggressive inline

Aggressive inline skating is trick-based skating. The individual performs tricks using modified skates, which have grind blocks between two wheels, and boots designed to take additional strain. The wheels have a flat large contact surface for grip.

Aggressive inline can either take place at a skate park or on the street, and typically involves predominantly grinds but also air tricks such as spins and flips.

Roller hockey

Roller hockey is the overarching name for variants of hockey played on quad or inline skates. Quad hockey (also called rink hockey, hardball hockey, or simply roller hockey) has been played since the 19th century. It is played in many countries worldwide and was a demonstration rollersport in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Other variations include inline hockey and inline skater hockey.

Roller derby

Roller derby is a team sport played on roller skates on an oval track. Originally a trademarked product developed out of speed skating demonstrations, the sport underwent a revival in the early 2000s as a grass-roots-driven, five-a-side sport played mainly by women. [30] Most roller derby leagues adopt the rules and guidelines set by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association or its open gender counterpart, Men's Roller Derby Association, but there are leagues that play on a banked track, as the sport was originally played from the 1930s.

Aggressive roller skating

Standard roller skate (quad) trucks compared to 3-inch wide skate board (Penny) trucks (bottom). Roller skate trucks.jpg
Standard roller skate (quad) trucks compared to 3-inch wide skate board (Penny) trucks (bottom).

Otherwise known as "park skating", this form of roller skating involves performing tricks and airs in mini ramps, street, vert, and bowls. Any roller skate can be used for park skating though many skaters prefer a higher-ankle boot over speed style boot. Additional modifications to traditional rollers skates include the addition of a plastic block between the front and rear trucks commonly called slide blocks or grind blocks. The front and rear trucks can also be modified to use a 3-inch wide truck to allow for different tricks. Many skaters prefer small, hard wheels to allow more speed and less wheel bite.

Skating federations

The Fédération Internationale de Patinage a Roulettes was founded in 1924, and in the 1960s it was renamed the Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports. In 2017 it merged with the International Skateboarding Federation to form the World Skate. It currently has over 130 national federations.

In the United States, the Roller Skating Rink Operators Association was founded in 1937 and the United States Amateur Roller Skating Association was founded in 1939. They merged in 1972 to form the USA Confederation of Roller Skating, later renamed USA Roller Sports. It is headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, also home of the National Museum of Roller Skating. [31] Nationals are held each summer with skaters required to qualify through state and regional competitions.


Roller skating, like skateboarding, has created a number of spin-off sports and sports devices. In addition to rollerblades/inline skates, there have also been:

See also

Related Research Articles

Roller hockey is a form of hockey played on a dry surface using wheeled skates. It can be played with traditional roller skates or with inline skates and use either a ball or puck. Combined, roller hockey is played in nearly 60 countries worldwide.

Inline skates Type of roller skate

Inline skates are a type of roller skate used for inline skating. Unlike quad skates, which have two front and two rear wheels, inline skates typically have two to five wheels arranged in a single line. Some, especially those for recreation, have a rubber "stop" or "brake" block attached to the rear of one or occasionally both of the skates so that the skater can slow down or stop by leaning back on the foot with the brake skate.

Inline speed skating Sport discipline

Inline speed skating is the roller sport of racing on inline skates. The sport may also be called inline racing by participants. Although it primarily evolved from racing on traditional roller skates, the sport is similar enough to ice speed skating that many competitors are known to switch between inline and ice speed skating according to the season.

Inline skating Sport discipline

Inline skating is a multi-disciplinary sport and can refer to a number of activities practiced using inline skates. Inline skates typically have two to five polyurethane wheels, arranged in a single line by a metal or plastic frame on the underside of a boot. The in-line design allows for greater speed and maneuverability than traditional roller skates. Following this basic design principle, inline skates can be modified to varying degrees to accommodate niche disciplines.

The Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports was the world governing body for roller sports, including skateboarding, rink hockey, inline hockey, inline speed skating, inline alpine, downhill, roller derby, roller freestyle, inline freestyle, aggressive inline skating, inline figure skating and artistic roller skating. It was established in April 1924 in Montreux, Switzerland by two Swiss sportsmen, Fred Renkewitz and Otto Myer, who had close connections to the International Olympic Committee.

USA Roller Sports (USARS), formerly the United States Amateur Confederation of Roller Skating, is the national governing body of competitive roller sports in the United States. It is recognized by the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS) and the United States Olympic Committee.

Roller skates Shoe or overshoe with wheels

Roller skates are shoes, or bindings that fit onto shoes, that are worn to enable the wearer to roll along on wheels. The first roller skate was effectively an ice skate with wheels replacing the blade. Later the "quad" style of roller skate became more popular consisting of four wheels arranged in the same configuration as a typical car.

Roller in-line hockey Sport discipline

Roller inline hockey, or inline hockey is a variant of hockey played on a hard, smooth surface, with players using inline skates to move and hockey sticks to shoot a hard, plastic puck into their opponent's goal to score points. There are five players including the goalkeeper from each team on the rink at a time, while teams normally consist of 16 players.

Artistic roller skating Type of sport similar to figure skating

Artistic roller skating is a sport similar to figure skating but where competitors wear roller skates instead of ice skates. Within artistic roller skating, there are several disciplines:

Frank Nasworthy is notable in the history of skateboarding for introducing polyurethane wheel technology to the sport in the early 1970s.

Jam skating is a skating style consisting of a combination of dance, gymnastics, and roller skating, performed on roller skates. The origins of jam skating are disputed, but it is often traced to the Great Lakes region, Florida and California. The style has its roots in traditional roller disco, but has been greatly influenced by breakdancing, artistic skating, gymnastics, and modern dance. Successful jam skaters are well practiced in these different forms and must have the ability to translate these movements while on skates. Jam skating first became popular in the early 1990s and is still practiced. Competitions, such as Heartbreak Skating Competition, Pajama Jam, Southern Slam, Social Skate, The Championship and Classic Summer Jam are examples of existing competitions happening. Jam Skating, like breakdancing in its early evolution, was an almost underground movement fueled by teenagers and skaters in their early 20s. Events were created to allow Jam Skaters to meet, trade moves, and, most importantly, "battle". Battling and performing remain a very important aspect of Jam Skating. This element pushes the boundaries of what is possible to perform while on skates; moreover, it ignites evolution within the skate culture.

Roller sports are sports that use human powered vehicles which use rolling either by gravity or various pushing techniques. Typically ball bearings and polyurethane wheels are used for momentum and traction respectively, and attached to devices or vehicles that the roller puts his weight on. The international governing body is World Skate.

Roller hockey (quad)

Roller hockey, rink hockey or quad hockey is a team sport played on roller skates. Two five-man teams try to drive the ball with their sticks into the opponents' goal. The ball can only be put in motion by a stick, not the skate, otherwise a foul will be stated. The game has two 25-minute halves, with 15-minute halftime intermission, plus up to two 5-minute golden goal periods to settle ties with the clock stopping when the ball becomes dead. If the tie persists, a penalty shootout will determine the winner.

Roller Derby Skate Corp is an American manufacturer and distributor of sporting goods, specializing in quad skates, inline skates, ice hockey skates, skateboards, skating accessories, and recently, through its acquisition of 360 Inc., sporting goods for water sports including body boards, surfboards and swim products. Roller Derby sells products under the brands Roller Derby, California Advanced Sports, Pacer and 360 Inc. It is the second-largest supplier of inline skates to the U.S. market. They have just introduced a skate that is designed for roller derby.

Roller rink Hard surface used for roller skating or inline skating

A roller rink is a hard surface usually consisting of hardwood or concrete, used for roller skating or inline skating. This includes roller hockey, speed skating, roller derby, and individual recreational skating. Roller rinks can be located in an indoor or outdoor facility. Most skating center facilities range anywhere from under 14,000 square feet (1,300 m2) to more than 21,000 square feet (2,000 m2).

Aggressive inline skating Sport discipline

Aggressive inline skating is a sub discipline of inline skating in the action sports canon, which emphasizes the execution of tricks. Aggressive inline skates are specially modified to accommodate grinds and jumps. Aggressive skating can take place on found street obstacles or at skate parks.

Israel Roller Hockey League

The Israel Roller Hockey League is the biggest Roller Hockey Clubs Championship in Israel.

Human-powered land vehicle

Human-powered land vehicles are land vehicles propelled over ground by human power. The main ways to support the weight of a human-powered land vehicle and its contents above the ground are rolling contact; sliding contact; intermittent contact; no contact at all as with anything carried; or some combination of the above. The main methods of using human power to propel a land vehicle are some kind of drivetrain; pushing laterally against the ground with a wheel, skate, or ski that simultaneously moves forward; by pushing against the ground directly with an appendage opposite to the direction of travel; or by propeller. Human-powered land vehicles can be propelled by persons riding in the vehicle or by persons walking or running and not supported by the vehicle.

Mo Sanders

Mo Sanders, known as Quadzilla L.K. or simply Quadzilla, is an American roller skater, who has competed at international level in roller derby and aggressive inline skating, and national level in jam skating.

World Skate roller sports governing body

World Skate is the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognized world governing body for roller sports. The organisation is the successor of the Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports (FIRS) and was formed via the merger of the FIRS and the International Skateboarding Federation (ISF) in September 2017, after FIRS was selected by the IOC as the governing body of skateboarding in preparation for the scheduled skateboarding events at the 2020 Summer Olympics.


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