Skateboarding vs Rollerblading | What’s the Difference?

Rollerblading vs Skateboarding

For years, there’s been a constant war between the rollerbladers and skateboarders of our era, where both competitors strike hard to determine the better of the two.

Skateboarding vs Rollerblading – which one’s better? There’s no answer. 

Even though I can’t give you a perfect answer to your question, I can provide an in-depth comparison between the two sports. This way, you can determine which sport better fits your style.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

Skateboards

“Skateboards consist of a board, with four wheels arranged like the wheels of a car.”

Rollerblades

“Rollerblades are two boots with four wheels under each boot, arranged in a line like the wheels of a motorcycle.”

Skateboarding vs Rollerblading – How to Choose?

Choose what YOU like. Don’t be fooled by the mainstream. Give this detailed comparison a serious thought before choosing.

I’m a rollerblader and I guarantee that this comparison will be unbiased unlike every other piece of media you see on the internet.

The Comparison Categories

In this article, we will be comparing skateboarding and rollerblading in the following 9 categories.

  1. Diversity and Styles
  2. Safety
  3. Difficulty
  4. Braking System
  5. Maneuverability
  6. Tricks
  7. Speed
  8. Health Benefits
  9. Transportation
  10. Popularity

You can determine what you value the most and pick a sport based on that.

1. Diversity and Styles

Skateboarding

Skateboarders have a huge collection of tricks up their sleeves. They’ve got more tricks than aggressive rollerbladers. They’ve got the ollie, nollie, frontside 180, backside 180, kickflip and much more.

But in terms of genres, all different skateboarding styles are not diverse in terms of content. Here are the different styles and genres in skateboarding.

  1. Freestyle Skateboarding – Transportation from point A to point B
  2. Vert Skateboarding – Skating on ramps or verts
  3. Street Skateboarding – Skating in urban areas with obstacles like stairs and rails
  4. Park Skateboarding – Mix of freestyle, vert and street skateboarding
  5. Cruising – Skating long distances on longboards without stopping or tricks
  6. Downhill Skateboarding – Skating downhill on a longboard at high speed

So, the styles in skateboarding are not that different from one another with downhill and cruising being the exceptions.

Pretty much everybody learns park skateboarding which includes vert, freestyle and street skating.

Rollerblading

On the other hand, rollerblading is extremely diverse and is divided into lots of styles and genres. The content of these styles are also different from one another.

The term ‘rollerblading’ is just a brand name. The correct term is inline skating.’

The following are popular rollerblading styles.

  1. Aggressive rollerblading – Much like skateboarding, this style involves grinds and jumps on ramps, rails, stairs.
  2. Freestyle Slalom skating – This involves moving around small cups or cones on the ground. The cones are spaced equally apart. The genre involves extremely difficult moves like spins and one wheel. This also has many subgenres, like speed slalom, classic slalom and trick slalom.
  3. Inline Figure Skating – This is similar to ice figure skating but on wheels. The artistic genre involves music and difficult moves like spins.
  4. Inline Hockey – This is the inventor of rollerblading. Inline hockey players are the ones that made inline skating popular. The style is simple. You play hockey on rollerblades.
  5. Inline Speed Skating – This involves skating at high speeds on tracks. Speed inline skates have large wheels that allow skaters to reach extremely high speeds. This can also be described as a rollerblading version of downhill skateboarding.

There you have it. Rollerblading is more diverse than it is made out to be by the media. Each style of rollerblading is unique and has its own arsenal of tricks and stunts.

2. Safety

Both are risky and can cause serious injuries. That’s why helmets and safety pads are highly recommended.

Skateboarding

Skateboarding related injuries are more severe and dangerous as opposed to rollerblading.

The reason is simple. Skateboards are not attached to your feet and the tricks are more aggressive.

  • It is common to lose balance as skateboards are not attached to the feet.
  • Skateboarders do not face the direction they’re headed.
  • Skateboarding causes more head injuries than other types of injuries.
  • Skateboarders can more easily fall on ramps.

You may think that if you’re about to fall, you can just jump off your skateboard. That’s true, but you can’t jump off the board while spinning in the air.

Rollerblading

Rollerbladers deal with lesser injuries than skateboarders in severity and numbers.

  • Rollerbladers have their feet attached to the wheels.
  • Rollerbladers face the way they’re headed.
  • Rollerblade related injuries mostly involve arm or wrist injuries.
  • Rollerblading feels more natural and hence they do not lose their balance frequently.

Rollerblading injuries also depend upon the style of rollerblading.

  • Aggressive, speed and street skaters have to endure many injuries.
  • Slalom, freestyle and figure skaters almost get no injuries. These skaters don’t even need a helmet as the probability of a head injury is almost null.

3. Difficulty

Both rollerblading and skateboarding have their own kind of difficulty. It all comes down to what is more difficult for you. The beginner tricks of each sport are easy while the advanced tricks are hard. That’s just how the difficulty system works.

Skateboarding

For a beginner, skateboarding may seem easier. You just have to learn to get on the skateboard and push with one leg. You can hammer those basics in a couple of days.

But don’t be fooled. The tricks that come next are way more difficult than the tricks in rollerblading. The ollie, nollie, kick flips, grinds, backflips and all the fancy stuff are extremely tough and require courage, determination and a fiery passion.

Rollerblading

On the other hand, rollerblading is the total opposite. The initial balance is difficult to learn on rollerblades. It may take weeks or even a month of rollerblading to just get comfortable on the wheels.

After that, you have to learn the tricks. The difficulty spectrum of tricks in rollerblading varies widely.

The basic tricks like going down the verts, the heel toe wheeling, the toe-toe wheeling, one foot and backward skating are easy to learn.

The advanced tricks are really difficult to learn. In aggressive rollerblading, these are 360s, 720s, backflips etc.

Similarly, in slalom skating, the beginner tricks like front cross and back cross are a walk in the park, while the advanced tricks like one wheel and spins are impossible for the average skater. Only talented people with years of practice are able to do these.

4. Braking System

The braking system of skateboarding and rollerblading is fundamentally different from one another, down to the core. Let’s take a look into the stopping method for each sport.

Skateboarding

Braking on skateboards is easy. You either

  • Get off your skateboard
  • Use one of your feet to stop the skateboard
  • Flip up the skateboard and catch it

It’s as simple as that. No complications and no steps.

Rollerblading

However, braking in rollerblading is a different story. It also takes some time and practice to learn the basic brakes on rollerblades.

Beginners usually stop by falling deliberately or crashing into the wall.

There’s also a beginner brake installed at the back of the blades, but, as you progress further, you’ve got to remove that brake. Then you start using the other brakes for stopping.

The following are some of the brakes on rollerblades:

  • T-stop
  • Powerslide
  • Round brake
  • Parallel stop

You have to learn these brakes like tricks. Check out our guide on how to stop on rollerblades.

These brakes may seem hard in the beginning but as you practice, they become second nature. They are also really effective for stopping quickly.

5. Maneuverability

Both skateboarding and rollerblading are different when it comes to maneuverability method or maneuverability level.

Skateboarding

Maneuvering on a skateboard is different from rollerblades.

If you don’t want a very tight turn, you exert your weight on the side you want to turn and the board will turn in that direction.

However, if you’ve got to make tighter turns, you raise the front part of the skate, rotate on the back part and land on the front part.

Skateboard turns are either really sharp or really wide.

Rollerblading

To turn on rollerblades you either do one of the following:

  • You shift your weight and tilt your wheels in the direction of the side you’re turning – Parallel turn
  • You keep crossing your one foot over the other in the direction you want to turn – Crossover turn

Rollerblade turns are sharper than the weight-shift skateboard turns but not as sharp as the lifting-skateboard turn.

6. Tricks 

Skateboarding 

Skateboarders  have got a large variety of tricks and stunts under their belt. They have more tricks than aggressive rollerblading. The difficulty level of the tricks is also greater than rollerblading.

Some of the basic tricks include:

  • Ollie
  • Nollie
  • Frontside Pop Shove it
  • Backside Pop shove it
  • Kick flip
  • Heel flip

… and many more.

Rollerblading

The number and variations of tricks in aggressive rollerblading is less than skateboarding. Every trick on rollerblades can be done on skateboards, except that skateboarding has more variations to that trick.

However, lots of people tend to underestimate other genres of rollerblading. They just consider aggressive rollerblading.

But if we consider slalom skating, the number of tricks far exceeds that of skateboarding.

It’s safe to say that inline slalom skating is an extreme sport with the biggest arsenal of tricks. Slalom skating is also fun and safe.

7. Speed

Skateboarding

Longboards do reach high levels of speed and are definitely comparable to inline speed skates.

However, skateboards are not originally meant for high speeds. It’s primary purpose is doing tricks.

Skateboards have small wheels which means less speed. Also, the kicking power of one of the legs is not enough to reach a really high level of speed.

Rollerblading

Rollerblades, on the other hand, are way faster than skateboards. Speed skating is in itself a style of rollerblading.

Moreover, rollerblades have larger wheels as compared to skateboards and hence more speed.

Also the sprinting power of rollerbladers is far greater than the kicking power of skateboarders, which explains the speed difference between the two sports.

8. Health Benefits

Every sport and activity has their own health benefits. So is the case with rollerblading and skateboarding.

Skateboarding

Skateboarders who are always toned and fit. This is due to the massive physical activity that goes behind skateboarding.

Skateboarding’s got the following health benefits:

  • Endurance
  • Relieving stress
  • Improving coordination
  • Releasing happy hormones

Playing any kind of sport conditions your body and toughens you up. All the complex tricks in skateboarding improve coordination between your body parts. Skateboarding also improves your mental health.

However, your body will have lots of bruises and scars.

Rollerblading

Rollerblading is a beast when it comes to fitness. There is even a rollerblading style called ‘fitness skating.’ Rollerblading toughens your body without leaving too many scars on it.

Following are the health benefits of rollerblading:

  • Easy on the knees
  • Calorie burning
  • Strengthening the lower body
  • Improving balance
  • Improving agility
  • Improving coordination
  • Improving endurance
  • Great cardio
  • Releasing happy hormones

There you go. Rollerblading is great aerobic exercise. It’s equivalent to jogging without the impact on knees.

Rollerblading is also a great way to breathe in a bit of fresh air and take in the beautiful scenery. Rollerblading on a bike trail in the morning is perfect for maintaining a healthy body and mind.

9. Transportation

Both rollerblades and skateboards can be used for transportation, but they both put forward a bit of annoyances. That’s why most people opt for a bike.

Skateboarding

Skateboarding is not ideal for transportation. If the distance is a bit long, you’ll have to have a ton of stamina to reach your destination. However, if the destination is right around the corner, skateboarding is a good option.

A good thing about using skateboards as transportation is that they aren’t fixed to your shoe. You can casually hold them in your hand whenever you want. However, they are really big to carry around.

Rollerblading

Rollerblading is more suitable for transportation than skateboarding. However, a bike is still a better option.

Both long and short distances can be covered via rollerblades. You’ll still need a lot of stamina to reach your destination.

The con is that when you reach your destination, you’ll have to take off your rollerblades, put them in your backpack and then put your shoes on. It takes a lot of time.

10. Popularity

Skateboarding

Skateboarding is huge in 2021.

  • We’ve got amazing skateboarders like Tony Hawk, Danny Way, Bam Margera, Chris Cole and many others.
  • We’ve got popular youtube channels like Braille Skateboarding with a dashing 5.5 million subscribers.
  • We’ve got RIDE Channel with an astounding 1.72 million subscribers that still keep growing.
  • We’ve got skateboarding featured in popular magazines like the Thrasher Magazine all throughout history.
  • We’ve got popular brands like Element, Girl, Santa Cruz, Zero, Creature, Blind and many more.
  • Skateboarding shops, brands and companies are popping up all over the world.
  • We’ve got popular skateboarding video games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1-2, Skate 1,2 and 3, Tony Hawk’s Underground, Skate or Die, Session and much more.
  • Large scale events and competitions are held all throughout the world.
  • Professional skateboarders make a fair share of money all across the globe.
  • It’s featured in global competitions like the X-games, Gravity games and even Olympics.
  • Sky Brown, a 12-year old skateboarding girl has become the youngest athlete to take part in the Olympics.

These are just a few popular names in skateboarding. Skateboarding has been one of the fastest growing sports ever since its invention and it’s still growing rapidly till this day.

Skateboarding has a funny origin.

  • In the 1700s, tribes used to surf on the beaches of Hawaii.
  • Around the same time, the world’s first roller skates were invented.
  • Some people mixed the idea and created the world’s first skateboards.
  • The first skateboards were just a wooden plank and a set of steel wheels.
  • Ever since, skateboarding has been growing and growing.
  • New shapes of boards started being invented.
  • New kinds of wheels were being invented.
  • Trucks made their debut.
  • New tricks started being invented.
  • Kids skated on flat ground and empty pools in California.

From the 1920s till today, the popularity graph has been going upwards with almost zero downs.

In the future, skateboarding will continue to grow; popular skaters will enter the game and champion skateboarders will become household names. Schools will be selecting teams of skateboarders like with football and basketball. Skateboarders will be earning even bigger sums of money and skateboarding brands will become bigger and bigger.

From the look of things, skateboarding will become nothing but bigger in the near future.

So if you want to make a career and go for the conventionally ‘cooler’ path, you should choose skateboarding.

Rollerblading

Rollerblading is a sport that became big in the 1900s but died down in the 2000s. Don’t stop reading because there’s no reason to discredit rollerblading just yet.

Rollerblading is rock solid. It’s the true example of an underdog story. Even though rollerblading almost died in the early 2000s, it’s a miracle that it’s still surviving after 20 years of downfall.

Here’s the story of rollerblading as we know it today.

  • Aggressive Rollerblading was becoming huge in the 1990s.
  • Large events and competitions were held.
  • It was everywhere on TV and magazines.
  • According to lots of sources, it even surpassed skateboarding and BMX in popularity.

But the year 2005 marked the fall of rollerblading.

  • In 2005, rollerblading was banned from the X-Games.
  • At the same time, the rollerblading companies did not promote the sport properly.
  • The media also turned its back on the sport.
  • This marked a rapid decrease in popularity.
  • All the positive reviews turned negative.
  • Skateboarding became more popular in the aggressive category.
  • Longboarding became more popular in the downhill category.
  • No one came to the rescue.
  • At the same time, skateboarders, who initially saw rollerbladers as a threat, went on a mission to demean rollerblading. It’s petty but true.
  • Somehow, rollerblading became a sport that was not so cool. With the ban from X games, people rebranded the sport as a game for girls or gay people. It’s stupid.
  • Professional rollerbladers started switching into ice skating or other extreme sports.
  • Teenagers started bullying rollerbladers and many kids switched to skateboarding.
  • Rollerbladers started becoming rarer and rarer in local skate parks.
  • This is how rollerblading missed a whole new generation or newcomers.

But somehow, in the midst of all the chaos, rollerblading still survives and is gaining popularity. Rollerblading enthusiasts managed to keep the sport alive and well.

The love of rollerblading never dies. Without your blades on, you will miss the feeling of wind rushing past your body, the smooth and effortless strides, and the urge to have wheels fixed on your feet.

  • It’s 2021 and rollerblading has made a dashing comeback. We’re seeing signs of rollerblading becoming more popular around the world. The popularity is especially greater in the east.
  • We’ve got popular youtube channels like Braille Skateboarding featuring rollerblades in a positive light. This is exactly the kind of positivity rollerblading needs.
  • We’ve got people like Sofia Bogdanova breaking the barriers of roller blading and turning it into awe-inspiring art.
  • The arsenal of tricks and genres in rollerblading is now bigger than ever.

Rollerbladers are deemed as losers, but they’re the real heroes who have the courage to do what they love instead of going with the rut.

Rollerbladers who persevered even in times of hardship, share a precious bond of brotherhood with one another.

Nowadays, rollerbladers are rare, so when people see one, the immediate thought is that rollerbladers are cool.

So, if you are not looking for a career in sports and just want to do it as a hobby, rollerblading might be a good option.

Conclusion

There you have it. The ultimate skateboarding vs rollerblading comparison. I hope this helps you decide between the two, if you’re looking to get into a sport. Feel free to put out your opinions in the comment section. It has been made just for you.

If you want more fun and juicy content on different kinds of skating, check out our guides.

Happy skating!

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