The Best Roller Skates for Every Skill Level, According to 2 Pros

Before you start choreographing TikTok dances, let pro roller skaters Frances McGee and Toni Bravo give you all the tips and tricks on how to get into the groove.

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Roller-skating is back! Well, it never really left, but it did get crazy popular over the last year. Between it being a safe activity to practice outside during the pandemic and a glut of mesmerizing and popular TikTok videos featuring people blissfully dancing on roller skates, many of us have been inspired to get into the groove. However, we are completely aware that stepping on wheels is not an easy thing to do right off the bat, which is why we reached out to two pro skaters, Frances McGee and Toni Bravo, for some tips on how to gain confidence while practicing for the first time and what gear to buy according to your skill level.

“My start in skating was very challenging, I didn’t understand it, and I felt like a baby giraffe,” confesses McGee, who now teaches roller-skating. It’s hard to believe that someone who moves so smoothly now, started like that. But both Bravo and McGee said that it only took a couple of months to get comfortable with basic movements, which gives us all the motivation we needed to finally try it out. If you, too, are ready to jump (glide?) on the bandwagon but don’t know where to start, keep scrolling to learn about everything they recommend to ease into the sport.


Protective Gear

Step 1: Protect yourself from possible (and inevitable) falls.

Bravo: If you’re very scared, protective gear will be your best friend. I think that helps a lot with confidence. People even have those butt pads so when you fall you don’t hurt your tailbone. It’s important to know that everyone starts off a bit wobbly. I recommend the brand Pro-Tec. They have really great kneepads. My knees are beautiful thanks to those knee pads. Also, my friends and I have a lot of S1 helmets. They have amazing quality, will last you and they will protect [all parts of] your head.

McGee: A thing to remind yourself when you’re starting out is that skating is lateral movement with your hips, like when you’re swimming. What we want to do is ground down to the wheels, soften the knees to align with the toes, and then soften through the hips. [In terms of protective gear], you want a multi-impact helmet which is different from a regular bicycle helmet. Multi-impact helmets come down and cover the temples and the nape of the neck which is really important. Wrist guards are also important. The wrist guard is designed to deflect the energy away from your carpals.


The Best Roller Skates for Beginners

Step 2: Secure your skates!

McGee: When I think of a beginner skate, I think of something that is gonna be low cost like an Impala that comes with outdoor wheels and a built-in toe stop. These are great skates to start but you will skill out of those at about a three month mark if you’re practicing at least twice a week. What comes after that is some varieties by a brand called Sure Grip. You can stick with a vinyl boot which is less expensive. The Sure Grip vinyl boots have memory foam that counterbalances the stiffness of a vinyl boot. Also, going from a built-in toe stopper to one that’s adjustable means that you have more flexion in your ankle which gives you more footwork capabilities for dancing.

Bravo: Moxi has these skates called Rainbow Riders and Beach Bunnies that are [less expensive] and are amazing. Also, anything by Sure Grip if you want to go for something in suede instead of a vinyl boot.


The Best Roller Skates for People With Mid-Level to Pro Skills

Step 3: Level up.

Bravo: If you’re more of a mid-level skater you can get into some Moxi Lolly. They have multiple colors to choose from, it’s made out of suede, made in the USA, and it’s worth every penny because it will last you. When I considered myself more advanced, I got into Moxi Jack boots which are basically the advanced version of Moxis. They are great because they have reinforced heels and they’re thicker which is good for higher impact.

McGee: If you are into longevity and flexibility on what location you want to skate, a Moxi Lolly is a good move. That’s a high quality leather boot that’s gonna mold into your foot but it’s still really soft so you’re going to have a lot of mobility in your ankle and the toe stop is legit. [It’s also] a handcrafted boot which is a really nice thing to have. [Another one is] Moxi Jack which is a stiffer boot that can take more impact. It’s important to know that, with any skate that you purchase, you want it to fit as snug as a hug. That means that your heel fits into the back, it doesn't shift or lift, and your toes fit just right into the toe box, all the way around.

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