If you're interested in the sport of roller derby, your skates will be one of your biggest expenses. Renting skates from a facility or borrowing skates from a friend might suffice initially, but you'll eventually need to purchase your own pair. Entry-level roller derby skates can cost up to $150 with higher-end skates costing even more. Knowing what features to look for in skates will help you make the best investment when buying your first pair.
Roller derby skates are quad skates, which means they have four wheels. They are built to speed along with the ability to negotiate tight corners. In addition, they need to be durable enough to last through tough matches and extensive practice sessions.
Roller skating boots are available in high-cut and low-cut styles. High-cut roller skate boots come above the ankle and a higher heel that makes it easier for beginning skaters to maintain their balance. Low-cut roller skate boots are often preferred by advanced skaters since they make it easier to push off during skating and go faster. Entry-level roller skating boots are often made of vinyl, which is not as durable and does not offer the performance level of leather. However, vinyl boots are more affordable than leather and can be worn comfortably out of the box instead of needing to be broken-in.
Roller derby wheels are designed for indoor use; they are specifically made for skating on hard, flat surfaces. Indoor surfaces such as tile or concrete are often slick; for these surfaces, a softer compound of indoor wheel is appropriate to increase grip and traction. The weight and body type of a skater will determine the wheel hardness, as heavier skates can take corners easier on a harder compound of wheel. Wheels are also available in varying widths. Wider widths provide more stability to beginning skaters although they do increase the potential for a skater to clip wheels with another skater in a close pack.
The plate of a roller derby skate is the part that attaches the wheels and axle to the boot of the skate. Beginners can choose from plates that are made from nylon or aluminum. Nylon plates are lightweight and affordable but are not as durable as aluminum plates. Roller derby skaters who weigh more than 200 pounds or are concerned about durability should avoid nylon plates as they are more susceptible to split and crack.
Many parts of a roller skate are adjustable or can be replaced and upgraded with a higher-end version. You can improve the performance of entry-level skates by replacing the stock wheels with higher-end models or wheels of different sizes or hardness.
Richard Manfredi has more than a decade of professional writing experience, both in the media and at a corporate level. Since 2003, he has worked in the public relations industry, creating and executing campaigns for technology and entertainment companies. Manfredi is also a journalist who has worked for the "Orange County Register," as well as several online publications.