Buying inline skates
Pretty much any inline skate will do the trick and for first-timers we would recommend looking at a pair of used skates to reduce the cost. A nice set of used inline skates generally runs less than $40. Just ensure that if you go with a recreational chassis vs a hockey chassis that the brake pad is removed before playing.
Bearings and wheels
Arguably the biggest differentiator to a player’s skating ability are the wheels and the bearings. As Delta Revolution plays on a smooth concrete surface, most players will want a softer wheel to help grip more. Most recreational inline skates come with harder wheels to withstand the rough road like conditions they will experience outside. These types of wheels tend to slip a bit more when played on the smooth concrete. All inline wheels include a hardness number, so take a look at the wheels on your skates, ideally the hardness should be one of the following (72A,74A or 76A). If you do decide to buy new wheels be sure to buy the proper size and the proper configuration (e.g. rocker configuration requires different size wheels on front and back)
For a good guide on wheels check out the following link: https://www.hockeygiant.com/support/How_to_Buy_Inline_Hockey_Wheels/pg_id/20104
The bearings are also key to the speed that a player can skate at. More than brand names, the important aspect of a bearing is its ABEC rating. The ABEC rating basically identifies the tolerance levels of the bearings. The higher the rating the tighter the tolerance allowing it to spin smoother at high RPMs. In layman terms this basically means that the higher the rating the faster and longer the wheel will spin. The most common ABEC ratings for inline skate bearings are as follows:
- ABEC 5 – low-end
- ABEC 7 – mid-end
- ABEC 9 – high-end
You can also find Swiss bearings on the market which will be on par or perhaps slightly better than ABEC 9s as they are less susceptible to debris.
For a good write-up on bearings and the ABEC scale check out the following article: https://www.inlineskates.com/Inline-Skate-Bearings-%7C-ABEC-v.-Swiss/article-10-17-2012,default,pg.html
Inline Skates for the Ice Hockey Player
For most casual inline players any boot will do. Some ice hockey players will prefer the hockey boot style of skate versus the recreational but this is usually just personal preference. Similarly, some players will prefer the rocker style of chassis, which generally has a larger wheel at the back that progresses to a smaller wheel at the front. The purpose of this is to mimic the stance and stride of an ice hockey player with most skaters pushing out with the weight on the balls of their feet. All of these are fine and it’s best to find the skate that works best for your particular player.
That being said, if your focus on roller hockey is to mimic ice hockey skating as closely as possible then you may want to look at the Marsblade (www.marsblade.com). The Marsblade was designed as an off-ice training tool for ice hockey players. A number of NHL players have given testimonials in favour of this particular skate. In fact, it is not really a inline skate but rather an inline chassis that is attached to your existing hockey skate. The initial cost is steep, at around $229 CAD, however the frame can fit multiple boot sizes and should last a number of years (for example the large size fits boots sized 7.5 -12). The mounting cost will set you back around $40 for each change. If you do not wish to purchase off of the website Max-Performance Sports in Vancouver currently has them in stock and will also perform the mounting for you: https://www.hockeyvancouver.ca/products/marsblade-hockey-training-inline-blades