Does Rollerblading Help Improve Ice Skating Skills

Do rollerblading skills carry over to ice skating? Yes, some rollerblading skills do carry over and help with ice skating, but thinking that ice skating and inline skating are exactly the same thing is inaccurate. Yes, you use many of the same muscles for both ice skating and rollerblading. But you’ll have to consciously switch over from one sport to the other whenever you change your skating surface, which isn’t always effortless. In most cases, ice skaters who start practicing inline skating get better fast, and they can even put the most agile inline hockey players to shame after a bit of practice.

Related: Different Kinds of Ice Skates

Does Rollerblading Help With Ice Skating?

Yes, rollerblading does help with ice skating ….to some extent. But it takes a lot of practice to see any tangible benefits. Forward-backward transitions, forward crossovers, backward crossovers, rollerblading backwards, turns, and stick handling are all aspects of inline skating that carry over to ice skating and vice versa. Also, there’s shooting while in motion and always keeping your head up in rollerblading which transfers easily to skating on ice and the way around.

But there’s one thing that doesn’t carry over from inline blading to ice blading — the actual edge work. The balance point, stride, and stance in rollerblading are different than what they are in ice skating. Rollerblading favors shorter, somewhat choppier strides compared to ice skating which requires longer, more powerful, smoother strides. And you need to have a stronger core and stronger ankles to become a good ice skater.

Connor McDavid Believes Rollerblading Helps Improve Ice Skating

Connor McDavid, a player for Edmonton Oilers and one of the fastest NHL players the world’s ever seen believes that rollerblading helps his ice skating a whole lot.

Growing up, McDavid played fun-filled inline hockey games against his dad and brother. And he credits his mind-boggling ice skating and phenomenal goal-scoring ability to that early practice. He once said, “Even when I wasn’t on the ice, I was always on my rollerblades.”

Is Rollerblading Easier Than Ice Skating?

Yes, it’s easier to pick up rollerblading than it is to learn ice skating.

First off, ice skates are naturally rockered and have rounded ends while most inline skates mostly have all of the wheels in contact with the skating surface. Inlines have a longer footprint than ice skates. The only exception is speed ice skates whose entire blade stays in contact with the icy surface.

What’s more, ice skate blades are thinner compared to inline skate wheels. Not surprisingly, rollerblades feel more stable. That makes inline skating somewhat easier because it’s easier to balance on them.

Plus, ice is naturally slippery. With ice skating, you’re gliding on a slippery, icy surface using thin, rockered metal blades compared to rolling on a dry, non-slippery surface with thicker, flatter, longer, more stable blades.

There’s also the little issue of equipment. If you’re a beginner rollerblader, you’ll likely use your own pair of decent skates with thick, soft grippy wheels. But as a beginning ice skater, you’ll mostly skate on rented beginner ice skates.

In most cases, rented ice skates aren’t of great quality. Also, the blade on ice skates rented at most local rinks is rarely sharpened right which means you’ll usually not get a very good edge. Lastly, rented skates hurt your feet really bad. All these factors conspire to make ice skating that much harder than rollerblading.

Many Coaches Believe Rollerblading Degrades Ice Skating

Some ice skating trainers out there don’t like it when their students rollerblade during the summer. That’s mostly because some ice skaters tend to struggle a bit once fall rolls around and they start gliding on the ice.

What about my experience transitioning to ice skating from inline skating? Skating on the ice does need a bit of getting used to after you’ve been rollerblading hard all your life. Actually, it’s quite a bit of a learning curve, and anyone could tell I was a rollerblader. But it did get easier with time, but that wasn’t without consistent practice.  The same goes for when you’re transitioning from the ice to the roller rink.

Some ice skaters report feeling like they’ve lost a bit of their touch after rollerblading for a period of time, but most see benefits. And for most inline skaters, their stride seems to get much better after practicing on ice. There’s no doubt both disciplines are complimentary and beneficial to each other.

I’m not saying stop listening to your coach when they prohibit rollerblading as alternative training for figure skating. I’m just saying inline skating helps good ice skaters in the final analysis. If legendary NHL player McDavid thinks there are benefits to be had when you rollerblade as an ice skater, it must be true, huh?

Is Rollerblading Bad for Ice Skating?

No. Actually, rollerblading helps ice skating. My husband is a fairly good ice skater but a really good rollerblader. He thinks it’s all about being a good skater no matter the discipline in question.

According to him, anyone who says practicing on rollerblades harms an ice skater’s technique is full of crap. Both skating styles help you get down the mechanics of skating, he says.  And that more time spent on either ice skates or inline skates delivers solid benefits.

I spoke to a bunch of excellent skaters on whether each type of skating helps or harms the other. Pretty much the entire group felt that more time spent skating is what matters most than what skates you’re using.

You can become a pretty good skater on the ice rink once you overcome the initial familiarity of rolling around on wheels. And the same can be said of transitioning from ice skating to rollerblading.

Well, the first few glides on the ice or strides on asphalt may feel somewhat choppy. But with practice, you can master either sport and even beat the pros at their own game.

That said, ice skaters tend to learn and get better at inline blading faster than the other way around. So, if your ice time is limited (and whose ice time isn’t?), consider getting a decent pair of beginner rollerblades or more advanced skates.

Then, practice hard — consistently. It helps you make the most out of your limited ice time.

There’s an Adjustment Period for All Skating Skill Levels

There’s always going to be an adjustment period. A small number of skaters may not even notice any difference when they move from the ice to the roller rink and vice versa. But the vast majority of skaters in both camps need some time to adjust to the new environment and skating style.

Trying to find your edges on inline skates at break-neck speed can feel a little challenging after some time on the ice. And there’s a strange feeling when you get on the ice after you’ve been rollerblading for a while.

That’s mostly because the balance point, stride, and stance between the two types of skating are different. Tip: rockering your inline skates (banana rocker configuration) can make it feel like you’re gliding on ice skates. And that helps. A lot.

Ice Skating vs. Rollerblading: Similarities and Differences

Ice skating is much older than rollerblading. We’re talking of a history spanning thousands of years for ice skating vs. hundreds of years for inline skating.

Both sports are similar in terms of the skating mechanics involved. But they’re also different in some ways, and the following sections highlight those differences. By the way, rollerblading grew out of ice skating.

8 Differences Between Ice Skating and Rollerblading

Let’s roll!

Ice Skates Glide While Rollerblades Roll on the Skating Surface

Ice skaters use boots with metal blades attached to their base to glide on the ice. But in inline skating, you roll around on wheels mounted onto a frame that then attaches to either a softboot or hardboot. In both cases, you’re edging. But you’re relying on a sharp metal blade for ice skating and rubber or plastic wheels in rollerblading to roll around.

Ice Skate Boots vs. Rollerblade Boots

ice hockey skate
This is an ice hockey skate

Ice hockey boots have design similarities with inline boots, but figure skates look almost like regular shoes on blades. Anyone who looks at these boots placed side-by-side can instantly tell the difference. That said, hockey ice skates look kind of slimmer compared to rollerblades.

figure skate
A figure skate, a type of ice skate for jumps and spins

Also, ice skates are lighter than rollerblades. That’s part of why ice skaters move around faster than rollerbladers.

inline skate pic
An inline skate with a brake

Ice Skates Lack Brakes

Ice skates come with no brakes, but some rollerblades especially beginner and fitness inline skates come with a brake attached at the back of the skate. Inline skates for advanced skaters don’t have brakes, though. Advanced rollerblades are, in that sense, similar to ice skates.

Skating Surface

Ice skating happens on icy surfaces, it takes place on frozen ponds, frozen rivers, frozen lakes, and ice rinks. You’re sliding around on blades, and it’s tons of fun. In comparison, rollerblading takes place on mostly dry, hard floors and surfaces such as asphalt, concrete and painted tennis courts.

Ice skates dig into the icy surface with their blades while rollerblades have wheels that let you grip the surface and roll around in confidence.

On inline skates, it feels like you’re rolling mostly in straight lines, and turning does take a bit of effort especially if the chassis is longer. But slidey ice makes it many times easier to make fast, sharp arcs and to change directions.

Some rollerblades such as freestyle slalom skates have a relatively short chassis that makes maneuverability much easier. But figure skates and ice hockey skates win out in the turning department. And as you might already expect, gliding on ice lets you build up speed remarkably faster than you would in inline skating.

Rollerblading vs. Ice Skating: Skating Stance

The skating stance in ice skating is pretty similar to the stance in rollerblading. In both styles, you stay low with your knees bent, your chin stays up, and your core remains nice and strong. But you must stay even lower in ice skating, which means your knees are slightly more bent.

But there’s one hard-to-miss skating posture difference between rollerblading vs. ice skating. Rollerblading requires you to set up a more backward stance while in ice skating, the correct skating form has you in a more forward stance.

Stopping in Ice Skating Is Different Than in Rollerblading

One of the biggest differences between inline skating and rollerblading is how you stop. When you get on the ice for the first time and you’re a good and strong rollerblader with great pushing power, you won’t be able to stop!

You’ll glide super fast on the ice, and if you’re like most people, you’ll have to learn how to stop on ice skates. The T-stop is a must-know stopping strategy in inline skating, but dragging your back foot on the ice won’t always generate enough friction to stop. As for the hockey stop, it works like magic in ice skating, but it doesn’t work that well in rollerblading.

Technical Maneuvers and Turns Are Easier on Ice Skates

When it comes to doing complex footwork or technical maneuvers, ice skates really shine. Also, turns feel easier on ice skates. If you’ve been a street inline skater for some time, tight turns feel many times easier on the ice.

It feels like you can do 360-degree turns without moving your ice skates off the ice. In comparison, turns on rollerblades are wider and somewhat harder especially if the frame is considerably long.

Well, inline figure skating is now a thing, but inline dancing looks like child play compared to the amazing footwork, jumps, and crazy spins that are possible on figure skates.

Falling in Ice Skating vs. Rollerblading

Another key difference between ice skating and rollerblading is how you fall. While falling is never a nice thing, it’s always going to happen in both disciplines.

But falling on ice is a little better than crashing onto hard, rough asphalt or concrete. For the most part, you just need to glide it off if you fall on the ice. But falling over and face-planting hard onto some pavement can change your life …forever. So, helmet up rollerblader.

Wrapping it Up

Inline blading and ice skating use similar muscles some of the time and rely on the same basic mechanics. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned skater, some of your rollerblading skills will transfer to ice skating.

Ice skaters benefit quite a bit when they train on rollerblades off the ice. But there’s a bit of adjustment time when you train across these two skating disciplines.

Admittedly, though, rollerblading skills don’t transfer equally to ice skating. However, training off the ice on wheeled skates does help your skating ability on the ice in the long term. Likewise, spending time on the ice riding ice skates gives you certain advantages as an inline skater.

But in the end, it’s how much you practice rather than where you do it or what skates you’re wearing that matters.