I find roller skating outside is so much fun, but it can be a bit trickier than skating inside. There are quite a few unknowns and external factors you have to take into consideration. You will have to navigate several obstacles, from bumps to hills.
While it may seem intimidating at first, everyone is capable of roller skating outdoors, no matter their level. As with anything new, you will gain confidence as you practice and will be gliding around the block in no time! Once you get the hang of it, the feeling of freedom you get just skating away is precious. Continue reading to learn how to roller skate outside and enhance your skating experience outdoors as a beginner.
Table of Contents Hide
- What gear do you need for outdoor roller skating?
- Practice Falling – How to fall safely on skates
- How to roller skate outside for beginners
- Where are the best places to roller skate outside?
- Is it hard to roller skate outside?
- What are the best outdoor roller skates for beginners?
What gear do you need for outdoor roller skating?
Safety first! Some of the first few pieces of gear you need along with your roller skates are wrist guards, knee pads, and a helmet. Even though it may seem obvious, many new skaters often underestimate the dangers of outdoor roller skating. Protecting yourself not only entails safety gear but also being aware of your surroundings. Staying cautious will prevent injury to you and others.
For roller skates, there is no need for anything high-end just yet. As a beginner, you want a solid pair that can support your feet as well as wheels suitable for the outdoors. It is recommended your wheels have a durometer rating (measure of durability, shock absorption, and grip) between 74A to 105A. Wheels with a lower durometer help absorb shock and are more suitable for bumpier roads.
You may also want to take into consideration the diameter and width of your wheels as well. Smaller diameter wheels tend to go faster, and narrower wheels allow for more control. If you are feeling every bump or your jaws go Brrrrrrr, i.e. vibrating when you skate outside, then your wheels are probably too hard.
For beginner skaters, it is better to opt for a more stable set of wheels as you learn the ropes of the sport. I started off with 78As but I now have harder wheels because I like speed and skate mostly on surfaces with smooth concrete.
Practice Falling – How to fall safely on skates
Before we go into the nitty-gritty of skating techniques, I would first like to acknowledge how awesome it is that you are setting out on this new journey. It takes a lot of guts to learn to roller skate, no less outdoors. Pat yourself on the back! Continuing this mindset as you learn roller skating will be crucial to conquering the first challenge: the fear of falling.
It is natural for every new skater to be pre-occupied with the idea of falling. Before you strap on those skates, try to think through this worst outcome, given that you’ve taken all safety precautions possible. It may help you feel less anxious and focus more on improving your skills.
Next, you want to practice falling the right way. This is something you would have learned while learning to roller skate but if this is your first time skating, ever, then it is even more important that you practice falling properly. So here goes:
- Make sure you have your safety gear on – helmets, wrist guards, knee pads, etc.
- Tighten your core – it’s always good to do this anyway as it helps you to control your movements
- Soften/bend your knees so that you are lower and closer to the ground. Makes falling less scary and it means that when you fall, you are not far from the ground
- If falling forwards, drop onto one of your knees while sliding forward but make sure you have knee pads on
- If falling backwards or if you don’t have knee pads on, then try to squat or really bend into your knees and fall on your side
- You can also get padded clothing like padded shorts to help absorb the fall
- Avoid falling directly on your bum as you can damage your tailbone leading to serious injury
- Avoid landing on your hands so you don’t damage your wrist
Go ahead and practice until you get this right.
How to roller skate outside for beginners
You are inevitably going to feel unsteady when standing in your skates for the first time. Please be reassured that this is completely normal. Start by taking baby steps – literally. You want to get used to the feeling of the skates on your feet and the surface you are on. To keep your balance, try bending your knees. This will not only help you feel more stable, but also make any falls feel less scary since you are closer to the ground.
Practicing your stops will be the next critical thing to develop. These are going to save you in so many situations, especially when you are outdoors. Skaters commonly use toe stops and turn-around toe stops. In terms of speed, I would advise that you start slow, and then build up speed when you are more comfortable – you will find it easier to get faster.
The most difficult aspect of skating outdoors is the varying terrain that you will be skating on. Unless you are on a predictable flat surface, you are going to find yourself dealing with cracks, bumps, hills, and overall uneven roads and pathways. With proper technique, you can easily skate over these hurdles without a second thought.
I also stagger my feet when skating outdoors just incase a pebble or bump in the road tries to throw me off balance, I can quickly rebalance using the other foot. This way I am less likely to trip and fall.
Below are some of the different scenarios you might face and how I suggest you deal with them.
Scenario #1: Cracks in the sidewalk
One of the first places you might start roller skating is on the sidewalk in front of your house. Even though it may look like a smooth surface to start on, its looks can be deceiving. When you are skating over the cracks, you want to make sure that you are going fast. Otherwise, your wheels could get caught on the tracks and cause you to trip. You can step over them on more uneven sidewalks either as you are skating or on your toe stops.
Scenario #2: Curbs
Our first instinct when we see a curb is to step over it. This is okay to do when you’re walking normally but is very dangerous when roller skating. Instead, skate parallel to the curb with knees bent and carefully place the closest foot onto the surface of the curb. As you regain balance, slowly transfer your weight to the foot on the curb and lift the lower foot onto the upper surface.
Scenario #3: Driveways or curb cuts
Stepping up onto driveways or curb cuts is much more straightforward than curbs. You can skate toward it and step up onto it if there is a lip or edge. All you need to do to go down driveways or curb cuts is to skate toward it and bend your knees. The rest is just a smooth ride.
Where are the best places to roller skate outside?
To start off, try to scout out various public locations around your area with large, flat, and smooth surfaces. Many skaters have had success with outdoor skating rinks and parking lots. If you cannot find a dedicated place for roller skating, you can also fall back on the sidewalk in front of your house. Depending on your skill level, you can even consider skating in the street. However, you must abide by the same rules as bikers do.
When you are just starting off, I would advise you to skate the same trail for a while. This is because skating the same path over and over helps you to know what to expect in terms of surface type, people traffic, etc. and would help you to adjust quickly. Thus building your confidence.
A small but important factor to also keep in mind is wet areas. You want to avoid surfaces that could expose your skates to moisture. It could cause the metal bearings in your skates to rust and affect your wheels’ spin. If you happen to run your skates through some water, dry them off as soon as possible. So, if it was just raining in your area, perhaps save the roller skating for another day until everything dries.
Your bearings will wear out quicker when skating outdoors. They are going to get wet and dirty and rusty. So I would recommend you have 2 sets of bearings if you are using the same pair of skates but swapping wheels. Each set of wheels should have their own bearings, you can use the older bearings for outdoor use as they are more rugged.
I always clean mine as soon as I take them off using an old toothbrush. I also make sure I dry them with a piece of cloth to prevent rusting and prolong their use as much as possible.
If you are happy to do so, you can use skateboard bearings as these are designed to be more durable. You can fit them yourself or get them fitted in store.
Is it hard to roller skate outside?
Outdoor roller skating comes with its own set of unique challenges. Unlike an indoor rink, you are exposed to all of the environmental elements. Because you are outside, it is possible that you will encounter several people, obstacles, and unexpected situations. If you follow the tips and techniques I detailed above, you will be able to learn how to navigate the outdoors and unpredictable scenarios. All of this will be initially challenging, but it is all about mindset. Outdoor roller skating will only get easier as you continue to practice.
What are the best outdoor roller skates for beginners?
It is important to have the right outdoor skates as mentioned earlier on this articles to ensure a safe and smooth ride. If your wheels are too hard, then your ride will be bumpy. I believe the Candi GRL Carlin Roller Skates are best for outdoor roller skating for beginners. You can read this article on best outdoor roller skates for beginners to learn more about why I chose these and other options I think are really good if you are not a fan of them.
Outdoor roller skating might seem scary at first but is incredibly fun and rewarding once you get the hang of it. Beginners to outdoor roller skating have to consider a number of factors when they begin. In this article, I covered everything from skating techniques to gear for beginners. I am confident that you are equipped with most of the knowledge needed to get started on your journey. You will be an outdoor roller skating pro sooner than you think!