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Fact Sheet

In-line skating is a popular form of recreational exercise. In-line skates are often used in off-season training for hockey and other sports, general fitness and transportation.

Before You Begin
  • Choose skates that fit well and match your needs. If the skates are too large they will not adequately support the ankle and are difficult to control. The boot of the skate should not be flexible; if you can squeeze it, there is not enough ankle support. If the boot is uncomfortable in the store, it will be intolerable while you're skating. Wearing a pair of thin sock liners under athletic socks will help to absorb moisture and prevent blisters.
  • Make sure equipment is in proper working order. Check wheels, making sure they are free from dirt and are attached tightly. Replace any defective or worn parts. Rotate the wheels of your skates periodically to ensure a secure ride. A skater is more susceptible to falling if the skates have unevenly-worn wheels.
  • Always wear protective gear while skating. This includes a helmet bearing the SNELL or ASTM certification and approval from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, elbow and knee pads, wrist guards and light gloves. The wrist area is particularly vulnerable to injury because skaters tend to fall on an outstretched arm. Wrist guards are designed to protect this area from sudden, forceful wrist extension and direct contact with a hard surface. Don't wear anything that restricts your vision or hearing, including headphones.
  • If you're new to the sport, begin to feel comfortable on your skates by practicing indoors on level ground. It's a good idea to take a class to help you learn the basic skills needed to skate safely. The most important lesson is how to stop. You can find a certified teacher through your in-line skating retailer.

Rules of the Road
  • In-line skates, like cars or bicycles, are considered transportation and must follow the rules of the road. This means skating in the same direction as traffic. If you are skating on sidewalks or trails, skate on the right and pass on the left. Always yield to pedestrians.
  • Skate on smooth, paved surfaces. Avoid skating in high traffic areas or driveways. Be especially careful on surfaces that may be covered with water, oil or leaves. Avoid them if possible because moisture can increase your chances of slipping. Sand, gravel or dirt can impede the performance of your skates' wheels, causing them to stop and you to fall.
  • Avoid skating at night. It is very difficult for others, especially motorists, to see you and avoid hitting you. If you must skate at night, always wear retro-reflective clothing.
  • Skating requires skill and concentration. Don't combine activities, such as walking the dog while you're skating. It can be dangerous to both you and your pet.

Think Safety
  • Experienced skaters can achieve speeds up to 30 mph. The highest number of reported injuries are to novice skaters who have not mastered controlled skating and stopping techniques. These skaters often do not wear protective equipment.
In-line skating is fun and a great way to get cardiovascular exercise. By using care and common sense you can keep the wheels rolling.

Safe Kids Worldwide
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Contact the South Dakota Safety Council at
or phone 605-361-7785 or 1-800-952-5539.