Roller Skating vs Ice Skating: Which is a Better Choice?


Written by

Marsh Harrison



Godfrey Rice

roller skating vs ice skating

Are you a roller skater thinking about picking up ice skating, or vice versa? Or you might be new to both and are contemplating which is better for you.

In any case, this roller skating vs ice skating comparison guide can help. We will first look at what roller skating is and what ice skating is. Then, we will delve into the details concerning the two’s skating surface, footwear, other gear, braking, balancing, and cost.

Before getting into the main section, here’s a summary to help answer the question, “Is ice skating like roller skating?”

  Roller Skating Ice Skating
Skating Surface ● Any hard surface ● Icy surfaces only
Footwear ● Attached wheels

● More moving parts

● An attached blade

● Fewer moving parts

Required Gears ● Knee pads

● Elbow pads

● Wrist guards

● Helmet

● Knee pads

● Elbow pads

● Wrist guards

● Helmet

● Hip pads

● Blade sharpener

● Blade soakers

Braking ● Easier thanks to built-in brakes

● More stopping options

● Harder due to lack of a built-in brake

● Fewer stopping options

Balancing ● More straightforward thanks to the larger surface of the wheels ● More difficult because of the single thin blade
Cost ● Between $20 and $350

● Fewer extra gear costs

● Between $75 and $250

● More extra gear costs

What is Roller Skating?


When you travel with skates on, you are roller skating! It can be a sport or a recreational, leisure thing to do. There are many rinks and parks specifically for rollerskating, but skaters can also venture into roads, side pavements, and bike lanes.

Roller skating can work your muscles, burn calories, and strengthen your heart. As such, it is the ideal activity for daily fitness. Both children and adults can roller skate and reap its benefits.

What is Ice Skating?


Ice skating is also a sport. It is when you glide across an ice surface with ice skates on. These footwears are different skates from those used for roller skating, as you will later find out.

Ice skating can improve your muscles and cardiovascular health. Similar to roller skating, this is an ageless activity. Children and adults can avail themselves of its benefits.

Hence, roller skating and ice skating share many similarities:

  • They are both sports that involve going across a smooth surface in special footwear
  • They both provide plenty of physical health benefits
  • They both can be done by children and adults

Roller Skating Vs. Ice Skating – in Detail

1. Skating Surface

The first contrast between roller skating and ice skating is the skating surface. For the former, there are roller rinks and skate parks. However, other natural surfaces like wood, concrete, or asphalt can work too. The key emphasis is on a hard surface.

For the latter, ice is a requirement. Icy surfaces can include manmade ice rinks or natural frozen lakes and ponds.

Therefore, looking for a place to roller skate is much easier. You can roller skate all year round, whereas ice skating is usually reserved for the winter.

2. Footwear


Roller skates come with wheels, bearings, a plate, and a toe stop, while ice skates feature a blade and a blade holder. This means there are more moving parts on the former, making it heavier and more difficult to maintain.

However, both can be further divided into sub-types.

  • With roller skates, there are outdoor skates, indoor skates, and speed skates.
  • With ice skates, there are double runner (twin blade) skates, figure skates, racing skates, touring skates, ice hockey skates, and bandy skates.

3. Required Gear

Besides the skates, roller skating requires additional protective gear, including knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, and, most importantly, a helmet. If you roller skate competitively, you might also want to add a mouthguard to your skating kit.

In comparison, ice skating will need all that and more. First, you will have to pay extra attention to what you wear to keep warm. You must have hip pads and carry accessories for your ice skates, like sharpeners and soakers.

As a result, it tends to be more of a hassle to prepare for an ice skating session.

4. Braking

Another notable dissimilarity between roller skating and ice skating lies in the braking mechanism. Roller skates are equipped with built-in brakes, but ice skates are not.

To halt to a stop while roller skating, you can lift the front of your feet and press down on the toe stop. As for ice skating, you would have to drag your skate back and shift your weight to grind to a stop.

If we do not consider the built-in brakes, braking is still simpler for roller skating. You can stop using your knee pad or practice the spin-out stop. Alternatively, you can do the plow-stop technique or the T-stop technique.

Ice skating only include two stopping options, and one of them is rather difficult. The two are the snowplow technique and the hockey stop, with the latter being more challenging to perform. The former, while somewhat easier, is not very elegant.

5. Balancing

There are typically four wheels on a roller skate. Thus, there is a larger surface area that makes it easier for you to get your footing. On the other hand, balancing and staying grounded on ice skates is trickier because there is only a single thin blade.

With that said, ice skating tends to be hard for beginners to get used to.

6. Cost


Typically, roller skates cost between $20 and $350, and ice skates range from $75 to $250. Note that aside from the cost of the skates, you need to factor in the price tags of additional protective gear and accessories. Since ice skating requires more, it is less affordable on the whole.

Plus, most ice rinks are not free. You will have to pay to enter if it is the off-season and there are no natural ice surfaces available.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is roller skating hard?

Roller skating can seem tough at first. But if you put your mind to it and practice diligently, you will realize that it is rather easy. Roller skating, really, is as difficult as learning any other sport.

What type of skating is best for beginners?

For those absolute beginners, roller skating will probably be a better choice. So if you’re wondering, “Is ice skating harder than roller skating,” at least the consensus on Reddit is yes. Compared to roller skating, it can be considerably more daunting and time-consuming to master ice skating.

Is it easy to transition from roller skating to ice skating?

Prior skills in roller skating help with ice skating since you do not have to overcome the fear of balancing. In addition, because roller and ice skating have similar techniques, you can roll over what you already know.

However, this does not mean that you are automatically an ice skating star. You will still need to invest time and effort into becoming familiar with ice skating and its differences.

Is ice skating and roller skating similar?

As suggested briefly in the beginning, while not entirely the same, the two do have some things in common.

They are both versatile activities. You can roller skate and ice skate leisurely, recreationally, and competitively.

These two activities both offer lots of physical health benefits. For instance, they work and help you build your muscles. In addition, ice/roller skating can burn calories and bring about cardiovascular benefits.

Anyone can make roller skating and ice skating their hobby. It does not matter if you are a child, adult, female, male, etc.

Is ice skating more dangerous than roller skating?

It is typically presumed that ice skating is more dangerous because of the icy surface. But really, the hard surfaces of roller skating are just as hazardous. If you do not know what you are doing, failing to take protective measures, and are testing the limits, they are equally dangerous.

Is it harder to rollerblade or ice skate?

Rollerblading is quite similar to roller skating. Hence, if we think roller skating is easier than ice skating, it is also safe to say that rollerblading is easier than ice skating.

In terms of rollerblades vs ice skates, it is simpler to balance and stop on the former. Thus, it is more straightforward for beginners.

But there is a distinct thrill to skating on ice. If you have already learned how to rollerblade, it is not a bad idea to pick up ice skating as well.

If you intend to do this, we recommend getting interchangeable roller blades ice skates! Some good ones are:

  • Roller Derby 2 in 1 Inline & Ice Interchangeable Youth Skate
  • Inline Ice Blades Transformer Freestyle Ice Blade

There are even 3-in-1 skates that permit you to easily switch between rollerblading, rollerskating, and ice skating. For example, Rollerface Switch 3-in-1 for Inline Skating, Roller Skating, and Ice Skating.


Now, you know all about roller skating vs ice skating. Hopefully, you have gotten a holistic understanding of the two to decide whether to pursue these sports. If you’re still unsure, you can rent out the footwear and required gear to try out the sports yourself before coming to a decision.

Leave your thoughts in the comments, and as always, share this with other readers!

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