In Roller Skating, you can choose your boots with heels or without heels. What you should get depends upon the style and purpose of your roller skating.
If you plan to dance or groove on skates, heeled roller skates provide you with the best support you can get.
On the other hand, go for roller skates without heels (also known as flat boots) if you are one of the speed skaters and want more stability, for instance, when you are inclined towards the breakdance-kind of moves in jam skating.
Let’s break it down in our easy-to-follow guide.
Which is Better – Heel or No Heel Roller Skating?
Whether you should go for roller skates with heels or without one depends upon your style and what you aim to do while you are roller skating. If you plan to stand upright without bending your knees or your shoulder leaning forward, go for roller skates with heels. Otherwise, you can go for flat roller skates.
Although roller skates evolved from artistic ice skating where the boots were used for artistic and figure roller skating, these boots were traditionally flat and there was no sign of an elevated heel. The reason why heels were incorporated was to give the roller skater more stability in order to shift his/ her body weight in a more proportional manner.
In case of a flat base, if you are standing in an upright position with your skates on, your body’s maximum weight (almost 90% of the weight) will be on your heels. That is a lot of weight for a single part of the foot to bear. When you have heeled boots, your body weight is distributed towards the ball of your foot and hence the pressure coming from your weight is proportionally divided.
Make sure that when you try on your heeled boots, your feet should slip back to the heel and once you lace your boots they should fit well – not too tight that it gets painful, but not loose and too comfortable. You need your feet to be able to transmit their energy to the heel in order to do what you want them to do.
It is a common misconception that heeled boots are for women. Although you may find a majority of women skaters preferring heel-based roller skates, many male expert roller skaters prefer going with heels. These roller skates are also ideal for beginners where your main aim is to learn the sport and not go too fast. Although heeled skates can go pretty fast, they are not as fast as the ones without heels.
- Since the skater is elevated by the heel, the body is inclined towards the front. This means that with heeled boots, you are less likely to fall backward as compared to non-heeled skates.
- If you are a beginner, you will find it easier to learn and will be safer (fewer chances of falling backward).
- Heeled boots provide more balance when the skater wants to stand upright without having to bend his/ her knees or lean forward his/ her shoulders.
- Weight distribution is more proportionate.
- Ideal for dance-based skating (style skating, recreational skating, and artistic skating, etc.)
- These skates are not as fast as the one without heels.
- In case of an accident, you are more prone to getting injured from a skate boot with heels than with one without heels.
- Not suitable for Jam Skating where you aim to transition from and to break-dance like floorwork.
Our Top 3 Favourite Heel Skates
When you are roller skating without heels, your boots provide you with better support and stability. You also get more power out of the skates without heels as when you roller skate, you will be able to put more power in each stride. If more speed is what you want to achieve, go with these ones.
On the other hand, roller skates with no heels come in very handy when you plan to go for sudden transitions of footwork while on your skates. Not just that, these skates go faster as compared to those with heels. That is the reason why these types of roller skates are more popular among speed skaters. Also, if you are going to ride on ramps, the flat boots are safer and more stable.
- These skates provide more support and stability when you require transitions, for instance, in Jam Skating.
- They are faster than the heel-based roller skates making them ideal for power transmission where you want to shift more weight to the front of your feet.
- The roller skates with no heels let you jump relatively higher than the other ones, so if you plan to do a lot of jumping while skating, you may want to go without heels.
- These are great for roller derby and speed skating.
- You are prone to fall backward on no-heel roller skates as compared to heeled skates. The reason for this is that the heel pushes your body forward changing the center of gravity which generally saves you from falling backward. If you are an expert this may not be an issue, but for beginners, this can make you lose control and fall backward.
- They are not good for dance-based skating when you require an upright position and the flexibility to move your legs and body.
Our Top 3 Favourite No-Heel Skates
Why Do Roller Skates Have Heels?
Heels on roller skates provide two benefits:
- They help the skater stay upright and they provide a braking mechanism. When a skater is first starting out, the heel provides a point of contact with the ground that helps keep them from toppling over.
- Heels also help provide resistance against which the skater can brake, which is especially useful when skating downhill and when using speed skates.
Counter-intuitively, heels provide better stability via body weight distribution and enhance the user’s turning potential. We’re a big fan of heels, for what it’s worth.
What Are Speed Skates?
Speed skates are a type of roller skate that is designed for speed skating. They have a longer wheelbase and a higher heel than other types of roller skates, which makes them better suited for racing. Speed skaters typically wear tight-fitting clothing to reduce air resistance and improve their performance.
The benefits of speed skating include improved agility, balance, and coordination. Speed skating also burns more calories than traditional roller skating, making it a great way to stay in shape.
Wrap Up & Conclusion
If you are a beginner who is afraid of falling backward while trying to learn this sport, it is a good idea to go for roller skates with heels. Also, since such skates are relatively slower when you roll in a forward direction than the roller skates that do not have heels, many newbies find it better and safer.
However, you cannot question the performance of roller skates without heels. If speed is your thing then so are heels.
Whether you are going for roller skating with or without heels, it is a personal choice which mainly depends upon the purpose of your skating and what you plan to achieve. In both cases, your boots must fit you well. If you feel too comfortable in them (heels or no heels), this could be a sign that they are bigger than your actual size. This becomes a problem because skating is all about transmitting the power coming from your feet to your boots and wheels.
Roller skating is all about having fun. Once you keep on practicing, it will not matter much which type you go for – unless you want to explicitly achieve a technique as mentioned above. You can try them both and see which skate type suits your skating style the most. Or, you can have them both and enjoy the versatility. Happy skating!