Roller skates
Roller skates are devices worn on the feet to enable the wearer to roll along on wheels. A first basic type of roller skate consists of a boot with four wheels with ball bearing
Ball bearing
A ball bearing is a type of rolling-element bearing that uses balls to maintain the separation between the bearing races.The purpose of a ball bearing is to reduce rotational friction and support radial and axial loads. It achieves this by using at least two races to contain the balls and transmit...

s, arranged in the same configuration as the wheels of a typical car
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...



The first patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

ed roller skate was introduced in 1760. The inventor was a Belgian named John Joseph Merlin
John Joseph Merlin
John-Joseph Merlin was a Belgian inventor and horologist.He was born Jean-Joseph Merlin in 1735 in the city of Huy, Belgium....

. His invention did not become very popular. The initial "test pilot" of the first prototype of the skate was in the city of Huy, which had a party with Merlin playing the violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....


In 1863, James Plimpton
James Leonard Plimpton
James Leonard Plimpton was an American inventor who is known for changing the skating world with his patented roller skates in 1863. Pimpton's roller skates were safer and easier to use than the existing versions, his "rocker skate" or Quad skates allowed people to steer just by leaning to the...

 from Massachusetts invented the "rocking" skate. This was an improvement on the roller skate that allowed skaters to turn easily around corners. This invention opened the door for the masses to enjoy roller skating
Roller skating
Roller skating is the traveling on smooth surfaces with roller skates. It is a form of recreation as well as a sport, and can also be a form of transportation. Skates generally come in two basic varieties: quad roller skates and inline skates or blades, though some have experimented with a...


Eventually, roller skating evolved from just a pastime to a competitive sport
A Sport is all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical fitness and provide entertainment to participants. Sport may be competitive, where a winner or winners can be identified by objective means, and may require a degree...

, beginning with roller hockey
Roller hockey
Roller Hockey is a form of hockey played on a dry surface using skates with wheels. The term "Roller Hockey" is often used interchangeably to refer to two variant forms chiefly differentiated by the type of skate used. There is traditional "Roller Hockey," played with quad roller skates, and...

. This sport became so popular that it even made an appearance in the Olympics
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 in 1992. Roller Skating was considered as an event at the 2012 Summer Olympics The National Sporting Goods Association statistics showed, from a 1999 study, that 2.5 million people played roller hockey. Other roller skating sports include speed skating
Speed skating
Speed skating, or speedskating is a competitive form of ice skating in which the competitors race each other in traveling a certain distance on skates. Types of speed skating are long track speed skating, short track speed skating, and marathon speed skating...

, figure skating
Figure skating
Figure skating is an Olympic sport in which individuals, pairs, or groups perform spins, jumps, footwork and other intricate and challenging moves on ice skates. Figure skaters compete at various levels from beginner up to the Olympic level , and at local, national, and international competitions...

, jam skating
Jam skating
Jam skating is a combination of dance, gymnastics, and skating, performed on roller skates. The style of skating has its roots in traditional roller disco, but has been influenced by breakdancing, artistic skating, gymnastics, and modern dance...

 and roller derby
Roller derby
Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction around a track. Game play consists of a series of short matchups in which both teams designate a scoring player who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team...

. Roller skating popularity exploded during the disco
Disco is a genre of dance music. Disco acts charted high during the mid-1970s, and the genre's popularity peaked during the late 1970s. It had its roots in clubs that catered to African American, gay, psychedelic, and other communities in New York City and Philadelphia during the late 1960s and...

 era but tapered off in the 80s and 90s.

The Roller Skating Rink Operators Association was developed in the United States in 1937. It is currently named the Roller Skating Association. The association promotes roller skating and offers classes to the public, aiming to educate the population about roller skating. The current President is Bobby Pender. The Roller Skating Association headquarters is located in Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...


Health benefits

The Roller Skating Association’s web page offers some health benefits of roller skating. Some of these benefits include providing a complete aerobic workout and burning 350 calories per hour while skating 6 miles per hour or 600 calories while skating 10 miles per hour. In the 1980s rollerskating as aerobic exercise flourished briefly. Marnie Bjornson's 1988 exercise video "Roller Burn" combined rollerskating with Tai Chi moves. "Roller skating is equivalent to jogging in terms of health benefits. The American Heart Association recommends roller skating as an aerobic fitness sport.


Roller skating has become such a popular pastime that there are museums dedicated to its history. The National Museum of Roller Skating in Lincoln, Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska
The City of Lincoln is the capital and the second-most populous city of the US state of Nebraska. Lincoln is also the county seat of Lancaster County and the home of the University of Nebraska. Lincoln's 2010 Census population was 258,379....

 claims to own the largest collection of historical roller skates in the world, together with pictures, medals, films, costumes, etc. that have significance. It also hosts a large library of roller skating books and has video clips of highlights from roller skating competitions. Donations of anything that reflects “the history of roller skating on a local, regional, national, and international level” are encouraged.


The activity has also appeared in pop culture.

The song "Brand New Key
Brand New Key
"Brand New Key" is a pop song written by folk singer Melanie, which became a novelty hit in 1971-72. Taken from Melanie's album Gather Me, it was also known as "The Rollerskate Song" due to its chorus. It was her biggest hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in December 1971 and...

" by Melanie Safka
Melanie Safka
Melanie Anne Safka-Schekeryk is an American singer-songwriter. Known professionally as simply Melanie, she is best known for her hits "Brand New Key", "Ruby Tuesday" and "Lay Down ".-Early career:...

 features the lyrics "I got a brand new pair of roller skates".

In Madonna
Madonna (entertainer)
Madonna is an American singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her debut album in 1983...

's Sorry
Sorry (Madonna song)
"Sorry" is a song by American singer-songwriter Madonna from her tenth studio album Confessions on a Dance Floor. It was written and produced by Madonna and Stuart Price and released as the second single from the album on February 28, 2006. It later appeared on Celebration, her 2009 greatest hits...

 video she uses roller skates. A more recent example is in Jessica Simpson
Jessica Simpson
Jessica Ann Simpson is an American recording artist, actress, television personality, and fashion designer whose rise to fame began in 1999. Since that time, Simpson has achieved many recording milestones, starred in several television shows, movies, and commercials, launched a line of hair and...

's music video for her song “A Public Affair”, starring Simpson, Christina Applegate
Christina Applegate
Christina Applegate is an American actress. She is best known for playing Kelly Bundy on the Fox sitcom Married... with Children. Since then, she has established a film and television career, winning a Primetime Emmy and earning Tony and Golden Globe nominations...

, Eva Longoria
Eva Longoria
Eva Jacqueline Longoria is an American actress, best known for portraying Gabrielle Solis on the ABC television series Desperate Housewives...

, Christina Milian
Christina Milian
Christine Flores , better known by her stage name Christina Milian , is an American singer-songwriter, actress, dancer, and model....

, Andy Dick
Andy Dick
Andrew R. "Andy" Dick is an American comedian, actor, musician and television/film producer. His first regular television role was on the short-lived but highly influential Ben Stiller Show. In the mid-1990s, he had a long-running stint on NBC's NewsRadio...

 and Ryan Seacrest
Ryan Seacrest
Ryan John Seacrest is an American radio personality, television host, network producer and voice actor. He is the host of On Air with Ryan Seacrest, a nationally syndicated Top 40 radio show that airs on KIIS-FM in Los Angeles and throughout the United States and Canada on Premiere Radio Networks,...

, and a skating dance crew named Breaksk8.
In 2003, the band known as The Penfifteen Club released their single "Ms.Hilton" which has a reference to roller skates in the song, "roller skates on a social butterfly".

The 2009 film, Whip It (film), stars Ellen Page
Ellen Page
Ellen Philpotts-Page , known professionally as Ellen Page, is a Canadian actress. Page received both Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Actress for her role as the title character in the film Juno...

as a teenager who rebels from her mother's wishes for her to be a beauty queen in favor of joining a roller derby team.

External links

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