Rollerblade vs. Skateboard: What’s the Difference?

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Inline skating versus skateboarding is a typical argument among wheel-sport enthusiasts. Die-hard fans of each discipline make their arguments against one another to assert their dominance on wheels.

There’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, and if nothing else, these arguments make for some very humorous quotes. There is nothing quite like a sports fan with a passion, and it’s certainly fair we consider inline skating and skateboarding sports, considering they have televised professional competitions.

There are a lot of differences between these two sports. At the most basic, the method of riding is like night and day. Even contrasting the culture behind these two wheel-based sports would show an extremely different dynamic and character that comes with each sport.

Rollerblading is more of an upbeat, aerobics and exercise, fun-in-the-sun type of sport and attracts a preppy crowd. This is a stark contrast to the grunge-style, gritty, unrestrained environment that often comes with skateboarding.

However, at their core, there are some similarities to these two sports. We cannot be sure of whether it’s enough to bury the hatchet and allow for some common ground for crossing over. However, the similarities are worth noting.

Whether you like to roller skate or, you’re a fan of rollerblading or a skateboarding enthusiast, or a newcomer deciding how to cut their wheels, this article is for you. Keep reading for our breakdown and comparison of rollerblading and skateboarding.

Common Ground: Similarities of Skateboarding and Rollerblading

Before we begin noting the relevant differences between these two extreme sports on wheels, let’s first focus on what they have in common.

Difficult for Beginners

Both wheel hobbies are difficult for beginners. Regardless of your regular activity before skateboarding, it takes a substantial amount of time to master.

Rollerblading can be difficult as well, even for people who started out on roller skates (even though roller skates may have a slight advantage). Even though they both have four wheels, going from four corners of support to a straight line of wheels takes some adjustment.

Physical Benefits

Rollerblading and skateboarding are both physically beneficial. Each sport requires a high level of balance and coordination and can help a rider reach peak physical condition. 

Cardio is an intense part of both of these disciplines, and all different muscles are worked regardless of which sport you tackle. Anybody attempting to master either of these sports has a high-level workout in store.

Both sports require the use of protective gear. Knee pads, elbow pads, helmets, and other protective gear should be worn at all times. The physical benefits are canceled out if you end up with broken bones. 

Mental Sharpness

Each one of these sports can be considered brain-boosters. It takes excellent coordination between the eyes, body, and legs to perform even the most basic tasks on rollerblades or a skateboard.

It takes high levels of mental sharpness to perform advanced tricks and techniques of each sport. You’re talking about master-level coordination and balance when you get into grinding, ollying, and other maneuvers.

These are the general similarities between these two sports. Now let’s contrast the two and get a little more specific regarding the details of rollerblading and skateboarding.

See also: Best Inline Skates

Rollerblading vs. Skateboarding: The Differences

Different Types of Wheels

The wheels of a skateboard are mounted from one side. An axle holds the two wheels together, and they are mounted on the four corners of the skateboard deck.

Trucks support the axle and skateboard wheels and keep them level to the ground while riders are on the skateboard. The trucks also have a crucial role in the turning motions of a skateboard.

Each skateboard axle contains two wheels, and bushings are involved in the setup. The bushings play a huge role in the speed and maneuverability of the skateboard and its wheels.

Rollerblades wheels are mounted from both sides and have four axles instead of two. A single axle holds each wheel up on the bottom of a pair of rollerblades.

The wheels on a rollerblade are also much taller and have a slimmer bottom. Less of the wheel makes contact with the surface that is being skated.

Both rollerblades and skateboards have interchangeable wheels. However, when speeds are increased, the wheel sizes go in opposite directions on the skateboard and rollerblade. On a skateboard, taller and wider wheels are required for higher speeds. Rollerblades require smaller, more narrow wheels for performance riding.

Riding Technique

Skateboarding requires kicking and pushing to move the board while rollerblading is more of a walking style of motion. The technique used to propel each different piece of equipment is very different.

Skateboarding uses more momentum and twisting of the body to make turns. A rider will use their weight and general body direction to change the direction of the skateboard.

When someone is rollerblading, they do use their weight somewhat, but not nearly as much as when skateboarding. Turning on rollerblades requires a slight lean to change your direction, but the biggest influence is the movement and direction of the rider’s feet and ankles.

Balancing on a skateboard requires the legs to be spread and knees bent while keeping the body somewhat straight with no lean in any particular direction. On rollerblades, the knees are bent as well, but the body stays straight forward with a slight bend at the waist while keeping the back primarily straight.

Movement in skateboarding is all about the toes, hips, and shoulders. On rollerblades, it’s about the feet, ankles, and legs.

When you stop on a skateboard, you need to lean forward and make contact with the board’s tail to the ground. This is done by pressing down with the back foot on the kick portion of the board until you feel it grinding against the ground.

Stopping on rollerblades requires keeping your feet close together as opposed to spread out and bending your knees. You move on foot perpendicular to the other and make a T-shape, letting the back rollerblade slow you down by dragging against the ground.  

Digging Deeper Into Ease of Use

We mentioned earlier how both of these sports are difficult for beginners to learn. However, there are major differences between the two as far as which one is more difficult. Skateboarding requires a lot more techniques. There’s more going on at once because you’re riding a moving object that’s not attached to your body. Being permanently strapped to the rollerblades makes control a lot easier.

On rollerblades, you can essentially put the boots on and achieve motion. With a little balance, you’re on your way. There’s more to it than this, but moving is that simple.

On a skateboard, you can’t just jump on the board and take off. Skateboarders have to do a great deal of falling before even learning the most basic forward motion of the sport. Learning to kick and push to propel the board is an entire discipline within itself.

When rollerbladers first begin, they’re walking with wheels on their feet. It’s much easier to keep your balance with inline skates than it is on a skateboard. If your feet are positioned correctly, you can walk one foot in front of the other until you’re balanced enough to gain speed.

The only thing easier on rollerblades is the braking technique. It’s a little easier to stop on a skateboard than it is to brake with rollerblades.

If you haven’t mastered the art of tapping the tail of the skateboard to break, you can always use one foot to drag the ground to slow yourself down. On rollerblades, if you haven’t learned how to make the T-shape to create drag to stop yourself, you have to come to one knee and risk crashing to stop.

Tricks are much harder on skateboards, also. Simultaneously maneuvering the board with your feet and transitioning into a jump is incredibly difficult, and this is only the most basic skateboard trick.

Many skateboard tricks require you to flip and twist the board with your feet or grab it with your hands and place it back under your feet in midair. Skateboarders literally defy gravity.

This isn’t saying that rollerblade tricks are easy, but they’re nowhere near the difficulty of a skateboard. This is another example of how having the rollerblades attached to your body makes things much easier.

Rollerblade tricks usually consist of simple twists and turns of the body and grinding. Grinding can be difficult from a balance standpoint, but again, skateboarding takes the win on this one. When you grind in skateboarding, you have to balance the rail you’re grinding on while balancing your body on the skateboard.

Surfaces,  A Skate Park, or Other venues? 

Technically rollerblading and skateboarding can be done on the same surfaces. It’s not uncommon to see rollerbladers on concrete surfaces. You might see both at a skate park. However, rollerblading is usually reserved for lighter, more forgiving terrain. 

Skateboarders can transition to longboards and use larger wheels to make their options more versatile. With the right type of skateboard, riders can go offroad and get into terrain that rollerbladers would never dream of navigating.

Normally rollerblading is reserved for smoother concrete and asphalt surfaces and is the most efficient on wood. Skateboarding is primarily done on concrete and asphalt as well, and wood on vert-ramps and other indoor skating surfaces.

Because of the skateboard’s versatility and a wider range of options for wheels and decks, you can choose more surfaces to skate on when you’re using a skateboard.

See also: How to Rollerblade: A Beginners Guide

Rollerblading vs. Skateboarding: Side-by-Side Comparison

To make things a little easier and dive into more specific categories, we’ve created a chart for a side-by-side comparison of the two disciplines.

 SkateboardingRollerblading
Workout LevelHigh-level cardio workout with approximately 400 calories burned per 20 minutes of activityA similar level of workout intensity, although rollerblading can burn more calories before of a higher-level of cardio
Gear NeededA skateboard, skateboard shoes, knee pads, and elbow pads, wrist guards, and a helmetInline skates, knee pads and elbow pads, wrist guards, and a helmet. Wrist guards are usually optional
SkillsA high level of training and education is needed to begin skateboarding. Mastering the most basic techniques can take months.A low to moderate level of training and education is needed to begin rollerblading. Learning basic techniques and mastering them can be done in days or weeks.
Speed (Based on Flat Terrain)5 mph – 13 mph6 mph – 16 mph
VenuesSkate parks, roads, public parks, off-roadSkate parks, roads, public parks
Modification/UpgradesThere are several different modifications and upgrades you can perform on a skateboard. There are four different skateboarding disciplines that all come with different board styles. Longboarding alone has 20 different board variations. You can also interchange the wheels, trucks, bearings, and bushings on a skateboard.Normally only the wheels on rollerblades are interchangeable, based on the type of performance. Rollerblades have lower levels of modifications and fewer disciplines to learn
MaintenanceMaintenance on a skateboard includes making sure the deck doesn’t splinter, keeping the wheels in good shape, and cleaning the bearings. The trucks also need to be maintained.The wheels and bearings need to be cleaned. Rollerblades require less maintenance than skateboards.

Conclusion

Skateboarding and rollerblading have their similarities, but their differences are far greater. These two disciplines require different levels of training and skill sets.

Rollerblading does require less maintenance, but the modification options are much lower. Both of these sports put the rider’s bodies at risk, but have several health benefits at the same time.

Despite the differences between the two, there is one thing that holds true of both sports. Rollerblading and skateboarding both require tremendous coordination and dedication to master, and there’s nothing easy about excelling at either sport. Depending on how deep you want to go, both of these wheel-based sports take ample time and effort.