If you are just starting out roller skating, you may really be struggling with how to make roller skates slower.
My goal is to help you feel more confident and secure as you continue on your journey to learning how to roller skate or how to rollerblade. And if you’re not sure which type of skates are best for you, check out my article Comparing Rollerblades vs Roller Skates vs Inline Skates.
7 Ways to Go Slower When Roller Skating
If you are just learning to skate and you are feeling out of control, then it can be common for beginner skaters to want to slow down. But how do you control your skates so you are not going full speed all the time? Read on with the following tips.
Here is a quick breakdown of all of the tips:
- Use Slow Roll Bearings
- Tighten the Axle Nuts on Your Quad Skates
- Practice on Carpet or Grass
- Use Softer Outdoor Wheels
- Use Smaller Wheels
- Walk Like a Duck
- Learn to Use Your Toe Stopper
1. Use Slow Roll Bearings
You need 16 bearing for your skates, but it is recommended that you only put these slow roll bearings in 2 wheels on each skate (one in the front and one in the back per skate – diagonal from each other). This allows your skates to still roll, but also slows you down.
This is the #1 recommended way to slow down your skates today. You can get them over at the Roller Skate Nation online store and skate shop.
2. Tighten the Axle Nuts on Your Quad Skates
This is one of my old school favorite (and cheapest) ways to slow down roller skate wheels on quad skates. To make your roller skates go slower, simply use a hex screwdriver or a skate tool and tighten the axle nut of each wheel.
Turn it to the right (clockwise) to tighten it. As you tighten the nut, try turning the wheel with your hand. The tighter you make this nut, the less your wheels will roll.
I do not recommend this to intermediate skaters. I would only do this when you start skating. With your roller skate wheels locked, you can now walk more instead of roll. This is a great way to work on good balance without rolling.
Now, a number of advanced skaters will say you should not do this because you are going to ruin the bearings. This is absolutely possible if you let the wheels continue to roll partially. The friction of the axle nut on the bearing can damage the bearing. That is why slow bearings exist and are a better solution.
However, if you are like some beginner skaters out there who simply can’t stand up at all, then tightening your wheels to the point where they don’t roll at all is not going to hurt the bearing because the wheel is not rolling. Typically, I then slowly loosen the axle nut on all the wheels a little at a time to let the wheels roll a little.
3. Practice on Carpet or Grass
If you really need to go slower, another option is to get off the smooth surfaces and move to grass or carpet where your wheels won’t roll as fast. The best part about this tip is that it works for quad skates, inline skates or rollerblades.
Just realize that if the grass is low cut (like in the picture above), then your wheels will go at a faster speed then if you are skating in thicker grass or carpet. Keep your knees bent and practice the right roller skating posture when practicing this way.
4. Use Softer Outdoor Wheels
Another way to make your roller skates slower is to use softer outdoor wheels or a hybrid wheel. A softer wheel will give you a smooth roll compared to harder indoor roller skate wheels and they also go slower.
This is because the softer the urethane material that the wheel is made from the more it pushes down into it’s surface. This means softer wheels will always go slower than harder wheels.
A hybrid wheel typically is good for both indoor and outdoor skating. They typically fall in the 82A-85A durometer (wheel hardness) range.
Softer outdoor wheels typically have a 78A durometer and will require you to give more effort to get your outdoor or indoor speed up. These wheels are typically made for rough asphalt or smooth concrete, but they will work great really on any surface.
So, if you want to go slower on your roller skates, then go with a softer wheel. I recommend going with the Atom Pulse.
5. Use Smaller Wheels
Beginner skaters also do much better with wheels that are not too small and not too large. Roller skates with smaller wheels go slower and can’t achieve the same top speed as a larger wheel.
But how small is too small? And what is the right wheel size for those just starting out? For most beginners, you’ll want to go with a wheel that is in the 57mm-65mm range. If you go too large, you’ll end up being able to go really fast and you’ll have a lot less control.
However, really small wheels (less than 57mm in diameter) are typically made for much more advanced skaters who have a lot more experience. They are typically made out of a different material that is slicker than urethane (like clay, vanethane or wood).
6. Walk Like a Duck
Another technique is to do the duck walk. This is a great way to practice walking on your roller skates. And, if you keep your movements short (like in the video above), then you will have a better chance of not rolling while you are duck walking.
Does it look weird? A little. But this also a technique that is taught to speed skaters when they are practicing their starts from the starting line. So, you will be learning an advanced technique early in your skating journey.
7. Learn to Use Your Toe Stopper – The Toe Stop Drag
Last in the list is obvious – use your toe stops! That’s why they are on your skates. On quad skates, you will have toe stops on each skate on the front of the skate. On rollerblades and inline skates, they will typically be on the back of at least one of the skates.
To do a toe stop drag simply apply pressure to the inside edge of your toe and drag your toe stopper across the ground until you slow down or come to a complete stop.
There are lots of ways to stop on skates. Be sure to check out my article on how to stop on roller skates for a lot more ways to slow down your skates and come to a stop.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you make roller skates slower?
Yes! You can make roller skates slower using one of the many tips listed in this article. From going with slow roll bearings, to tightening the axle nuts on your wheels or using softer / smaller wheels. All of these things, as well as, practicing in the grass, learning how to duck walk and how to use your toe stops are all great ways to slow you down on your roller skates.
How loose should skate wheels be?
Roller skate wheels should typically have their axle nut tightened to the point where all of your wheels are spinning freely without any friction. On my skates, I tighten the axle nut but leave a very small jiggle when I pull the wheel towards myself (like less than 1mm).
How do you slow down kids roller skates?
You can use all the same methods mentioned in this article to slow down kids roller skates, too. Some toddler skates already have slow roll bearings and other things built into them to keep the wheels from rolling as fast. This can make it easier for the little ones to learn quicker.
Can you use skateboard bearings on roller skates?
Yes! Most skateboard and roller skate bearings are interchangeable as long as both your skateboard and your roller skates have 8mm axles. Most roller skates and skateboards use 8mm axles, so the bearings can be used on either product.
Want to Learn Even More About Skating?
Want more reviews on roller skates? Check out my Best Roller Skates page for a list of all of the quads I recommend. I also have pages for roller skates for men, roller skates for women and roller skates for kids where I recommend the best skates on the market today for each group. Or, check out my roller skates for beginners if you are completely new to roller skating.
Or, if rollerblades or inline skates are more your style, then check out my rollerblades for men, rollerblades for women or rollerblades for kids pages. Or, if you are completely new, check out my rollerblades for beginners page.