Why is inline skating still a minority sport?

There are many reasons why inline skating hasn’t grown worldwide to become a well known sport. There has been huge growth globally since the pandemic but inline and roller skating still don’t attract the numbers of other sports such as cycling or football. Let’s look at some of the main reasons for this:

Insufficient locations

Skaters everywhere struggle with adequate spaces to skate safely or skater only areas. We’re always sharing space with pedestrians, cyclists and cars and no one wants us in any space.

Inline skating has a lack of exposure

Inline speed skating should be in the Olympics. Many more people worldwide participate in inline speed skating compared to speed skating on ice. If inline speed skating was in the Olympics, it would gain huge popularity just by being televised. Skating is marginalised because it’s not visible in the mainstream media, and as such doesn’t gain more participants.
Skating should be taught in schools along with other sports. But due to the technical challenges of inline and roller skating, the training of physical education teachers would need to be extended to include skating. The issues of equipment and protective gear also prevent most schools from being able to offer skating. At best, some schools offer after school clubs with tuition from specialised skate instructors, but this is not the norm, unfortunately.

Low retention rate

It is so much easier to create propulsion on wheels than it is to stop. Lack of ability to control speed and stop (on flat surfaces as well as slopes) is probably responsible for more falls and injuries for new skaters than anything else. Correct technique is needed to master all skills on wheels and too often this is not a focus.

Whether on inlines or quads, skating is technically difficult and the consequences of getting it wrong can be painful falls or worse, serious injury. If you ask a group of people if they’ve skated before, there will be many who laugh and say “I’d break my neck if I did that” or “No way, I tried it once and fell over.”

Unlike skiing where 100% of new beginners take a series of ski lessons, most beginner adult skaters do not look for professional instruction (beyond small tips on YouTube). There is a perception that if you skated as a child it is therefore easy to pick up again as an adult. Also, skating looks deceptively easy when done well, so this disguises the fact it can be very difficult when you begin.

The drop-out rate in skating is very high mostly because new beginners either experience a nasty, painful fall early on, or they don’t make the progress they anticipated and get frustrated and so give up. The number of barely used, second hand skates for sale online is evidence of this high drop-out rate.

Public perception of skaters?

The perception from the non-skating general public is that skaters are an unruly bunch is misplaced and comes from judging everyone with wheels in their activity in the same way. Skating needs to be recognised for the extensive health benefits it offers For mature skaters particularly, the lack of impact on joints while providing a high cardio and muscular workout is one of the main attractions. Most recreational and fitness skaters are over 30 years and many in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond.

Benefits of continued skating

Skating holds so many benefits for children adults alike; physical, mental, social, emotional and even spiritual! Skaters create communities that are inclusive fun while allowing each individual to be on their unique journey. Skating is good for cities as alternative forms of urban transport. Skaters smile and create good vibes as they roll by, and where they congregate to skate and dance they become an attraction (New York City’s Central Park, San Francisco’s 6th Avenue Skatin Place, Berlin’s Templehof, London’s Serpentine Road, to name but a few).

Imagine a world where skaters also had their own designated lane (next to the cyclists) where the surface had been chosen for the safety of skaters. What if every town had a public roller inline skating rink or smooth, flat skating area? Imagine how the sport would grow with these kind of developments globally.

In the UK the provision of “skating facilities” by local authorities is almost 100% of the time building a skate park (with ramps, boxes half pipes). These facilities are expensive to build and maintain and there have been HUGE numbers built across the country in the last few years There are 64 skate parks in Sussex alone. However, these facilities are used by approx. 5% of all skaters. Predominantly young men who enjoy the danger and thrill of aggressive skating. Lucky them!

For the rest of us adult inline and/or quad skaters we are left having to squeeze onto multi-purpose courts and share seafront promenades, car parks and park pathways. No wonder it’s hard for the sport to grow! If there were no tennis courts in the UK then it wouldn’t be such a popular sport.

Increasing the popularity of skating is part of my mission. By helping skaters to become masterful with their skills (particularly the pesky stopping methods), I hope to encourage more and more skaters to keep skating, to keep improving and ultimately to remain in the sport to help build our cause and inspire others around them to join us.

If you want to be a part of this then make sure you are a positive rolling example of control and prowess. Gain mastery over your skating so you can safely enjoy this incredible sport. Avoiding bad falls and injuries should be top of every skater’s list.

Know that your personal skate journey ripples out into the world and adds to the cumulative effect of the entire community. Your skating matters. Imagine if you were depressed, isolated and unwell the way you related to friends family would be a particular way. If (as a skater) your life changed and you became happier, healthier and with a new community of like minded people to share your skating with, imagine how you’d be in your life. Probably different. This is what I mean by the ripple effect and your skating journey being important.

Our motto in Skatefresh is ‘Skate Well, Feel Alive’ and it’s the aliveness that everyone who gets into skating talks about. The freedom you feel while rolling is almost beyond words. It takes you away from your worries and concerns and puts you in the present moment. The mindfulness revolution today shows us how important being present is. We just do that on wheels.

If you agree then let me help you become a master. Use the Skatefresh Method for FREE. Just choose a course theme (general skills or fitness skating), your level and click Free Trial.

Check the full list here;

Inline courses

Quads courses

Yoga for Skaters classes