Inline skating isn’t a new hobby by any stretch of the imagination, but it is one of the easiest hobbies to get involved in. Essentially, the only thing required to join the hobby is to basically buy a pair of your own inline skates, which are more widely known as roller blades, and start skating. Because of its short learning curve, it is one of the fastest activity to learn, and in addition to its learning curve, inline skating leads to a healthy lifestyle by building muscular and cardiovascular health. Not only is it a hobby that is easy to learn and leads to a healthy lifestyle, it is also a whole lot of fun.
Since the invention of roller skates, the parents of inline skating, in the 1700’s, roller skating has been a huge part of peoples’ lives for over three hundred years. One of the best parts of inline skating is that it is possible to practice and have fun year round at nearly any outdoor or indoor area. All you have to do is basically put the roller blades on and skate away. But what kind of skating are you going to do? That’s right, there is no longer the idea of simply skating in a straight line in modern times. Although it is recommended for beginners to keep it simple, more advanced skates implement jumps, twists, grinds, and high speeds into their skating repertoire. But to understand the newest forms of skating, it is important to review the evolution from roller skates to inline skates, and how the two intersect in many ways.
History of Inline Skating / Roller Blading
The origins of roller skating begins in the mid 1700’s where the first recorded use of roller skates, in a London stage performance took place, but the inventor of this most unusual invention is sadly lost to history. It is actually the year 1760 that the first recorded skate invention is recorded by inventor John Joseph Merlin, who demonstrated the workings of a primitive inline skate with metal wheels. But it wasn’t until another fifty-nine years passes that the first patented roller skate design, by M. Petitbled, was showcased in France in the year 1819. Although remarkable for the times, the skates were able to do little more than move in a straight line and make wide turns. For the remainder of the 19th century, inventors worked continuously on improving the skate design, but it wasn’t until 1863 that major changes were made.
Inline Skating Federations
The first thing we have to understand prior to looking at inline skating federations is that there is no actual requirement for anyone to join these organizations should the only goal of the hobby is to have fun. If you are looking to become more involved in the sport, it would be a good idea to look into the federation of your own country as they can lead you in the right direction should you wish to enter competitions. The true goal of all skating federations is to essentially promote the sport of roller and inline skating.
Although there are numerous skating organizations throughout the world, one of the largest and most influential is in the United States where the controlling organization is USA Roller Sports, headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, also home of the National Museum of Roller Skating. Nationals are held each summer with skaters required to qualify through regional competitions. Other groups include the International Freestyle Skating Association, Federation Internationale de Roller-Skating (the international organization for competitive roller sports), British Federation of Roller Skating, Canadian Skating Association, International Inline Stunt Federation, and Skate Australia.
Purchasing Inline Skates
If you have decided to give inline skating a shot, and you have never tried it before, it may be a good idea to not make a substantial investment in equipment should you decide you actually don’t like the hobby. This goes the same for children who are new to the sport, or even if you have any other doubts about the longevity of your interest in the sport. Should this be the case, there are temporary skate solutions that can get you rollerblading without dropping a large amount of money should you decide that it isn’t right for you.
The main option for beginners is to either purchase inexpensive used equipment, or to rent equipment until more confidence is gained. There is nothing worse that purchasing $250 worth of equipment for a child and finding out after two weeks that they absolutely hate the sport. Other than saving money, it is important to learn the difference between inexpensive and expensive equipment. Used inline skates typically don’t roll as fast or smoothly as more expensive models, but it does allow beginners to learn how to skate without gaining major speeds. More expensive equipment is designed to make skating as easy as possible for the hobbyist by allowing smooth, gliding wheels, and generally better design that holds up to more wear and tear. By working oneself through different types of equipment, the skater’s learning curve is less steep, and helps to master the skills required for more advanced riding.
Safety Gear is a Must
One of the most important parts of roller and inline skating has to be the protective gear worn by the skater at all times. Where protective equipment is usually optional for practitioners, protective gear for inline skating is a must. Not only is it essential for beginners, it is also crucial for all levels of experience when it comes to inline skating. This is one sport where there is an abundance of protective gear, due to the face that it is the same gear worn by bikers and skate boarders, yet there are numerous injuries and fatalities every year because safety equipment is not worn. The fact is that you can be as careful as you can be, but accidents can happen and they are never expected. With the number of injuries growing each year, more and more cities and municipalities have begun to enforce laws enforcing the use of safety gear.
It is important to purchase all safety gear new to ensure that it has not been compromised by previous usage. Never be afraid to inspect the equipment before you buy it as any cracks or wreaked straps will compromise the safety of the equipment. \the most important equipment by far is the helmet, which will protect you head should you fall while skating. Other equipment that is often worn are elbow pads, knee pads, and wrist guards, which are often sold as sets for your convenience. All of these will protect you if you should fall, and since skating is a lot like riding a bike for the first time, you are bound to fall a couple times before mastering inline skating. Other equipment that is not essential are padded shorts to protect your tailbone, hips and thighs, ankle and shin guards are worn to prevent bruises on your lower legs, and body armor is recommending for advance skating where new tricks are being learned.
Popular Culture and Inline Skating
Although inline skating has been popular in today’s culture, it hasn’t had a large impact in films and television until the release of the film Whip It in 2009. The film is directed by Drew Berrymore and stars herself alongside Ellen Page and centers around a small town girl who joins a hardcore all girl roller derby team. Unfortunately, inline skating has been seen in other films yet hadn’t been featured until Drew Berrymore’s film of 2009. Other films that has rollerblading were the Disney Channel Original Movie Brinkl, which shows inline skating as an extreme sport competition for teens in California, Roll Bounce, which centers around a group of teens that compete in competitions in the late 1970’s,and ATL, where the characters had a great love for skating.
Due to the close relationship between inline skates and hockey skates, it is more common to see full hockey games now played on inline skates rather than just normal ice skates. With new leagues popping up all over the world, new and experienced players are given the chance to play hockey even when there is no ice around to play on. But just like traditional ice hockey, it is essential to always wear protective gear while wearing inline skates because the fast nature of hockey creates a faster pace for players to travel at, which raises the risk of injury.
A more important inclusion of inline skating in popular culture is the sport’s inclusion in the famous extreme x-game competitions that used to feature skateboarding and bmx biking. These games feature professional athletes competing in advanced competitions like half pipes, skate parks, and big air. These games do not feature simple riding, but rather the extreme that the sport has to offer. This includes front and back flips, spins and twists, grinds and grabs, and much, much more. It has been these events that have inspired new riders over the course of the past twenty plus years to join the sport, but has also gone a long way to enforce proper safety gear for all levels of riders.
As one of the easiest hobbies to become a part of, inline skating is available for all levels of experience and is really a lot of fun. Not only is it an enjoyable hobby, it also provide a great source of daily physical fitness that many people are missing in their day to day routines. The sport creates a stronger, healthier body by working key muscle groups, while at the same time increasing the size of your cardiovascular. In this way, rollerblading has a positive influence on all other daily activities because you will simply be more healthy after riding for only a short period.
For those who don’t find the same thrills as many across North America in simply skating through city streets and parks, there are more advanced areas of inline skating that you will probably want to try. For more advanced options like artistic, dance, or extreme rollerblading, it is helpful to checkout local organizations that can match you up with others of the same interest. If ride alone is fun, just imaging how much fun it is to ride in big groups of other enthusiasts. But in the end, there is only one very important rule you must always follow when inline skating or roller skating, and that is to always, always, always wear the appropriate safety equipment because you never know when an accident will take place. Other than that, get out there and have fun!