5 common roller skate problems — and how to fix them

I’ve had some interesting skate dilemmas today, so I made a list of common skate problems and how to solve them cheaply.

Problem: My skate inserts ball up and are so uncomfortable.
Solution: Don’t tell your roommates I told you to do this. But if you don’t want to dish out the $10-30 to get new inserts, you can try ironing it. I don’t own an iron, those cost money, so here is what I do: First, I try to smooth the crinkles out a bit by putting the bad creases under a leg of furniture. Then, and this is truly disgusting, then I take a flat-bottomed stove-top pan and I boil half an inch of water. I first try to “iron” the foot cushion by pressing the bottom of the hot pan of boiling water on top of it and smushing it. When that does not work (and it probably won’t), I dip the affected area of the insert into the boiling water for 3-5 seconds. Take it out and then smush the bottom of the hot pan over the insert on a cool, dry surface. Repeat until flat. It works. Don’t tell your roommate you put your nasty-ass sweat-soaked shoe insert into one of his/her pans.

Problem: My waxed hockey laces (recommended here) don’t fit through my skate lace eyelets. 
Solution: I know! What a pain! Those things cost $4! You have to broil the mo-fos. Turn your oven to high broil and then hold the tips of the laces under the broiler for about 30 seconds. Quickly put them through your skates. This will shape them into an eyelet size.

Problem: My feet go numb in my skates.
Solution: If it’s not cold, this is because your skates are tied too tight. When I break in skates, I like them loose by the toe, then when you lace them, skip a eyelet halfway up (don’t cross, just move the lace through the next same-side hole) and then keep lacing. This lets you have looseness in the front, but keeps it tight around the ankle. That said, you want to eventually be able to lace your skates tightly and break them in, so, at some point, you’re going to have to suck it up and gradually begin tightening them until the leather stretches around your foot in a hug. If it’s because it’s cold, try a light wool sock and warming your feet up with some off-skates agility before practice. Get your feet sweaty before you put them in your skates.

Problem: I need to adjust my trucks and wheels before every practice.
Solution: ARE YOU LEAVING YOUR GEAR IN YOUR CAR? ARE YOU LEAVING IT ZIPPED UP IN YOUR BAG BETWEEN PRACTICES? Don’t do that! Leather and metal need to dry. This means you pack up your gear after practice, put it with you in your car, then when you get out of your car you bring it with you. Inside your warm house (your skates need a warm home too) you unzip your stinky gear bag and make sure all the gear is separated and able to touch air. One day your roommates won’t care as much. Start getting them used to it.

Problem: I break my laces every practice.
Solution: I addressed this in “The Cost of Roller Derby,” but the quick answer is to get toe caps that snap on (not the ones you put laces through, they will just break), get waxed hockey laces and to try to stop dragging your feet. If the $3-4 laces and $7-14 snap-ons are too much, my friend Vegemighty Slamwitch made her own toe-covers by cutting a bike tire in half, attaching it to her toe stop and then high up on her skate.

Those are some common issues. Feel free to comment below with any skate issues.

And one last thing: Oh MAN! If you didn’t spend the $20 to get WFTDA TV this weekend, you are missing out! Naptown v. Atlanta was CRAY CRAY! Many lead changes and it all came down to the last couple jams. As I said in “how to play watching roller derby” I usually aim for 10 minutes planks, 50 pushups. But this game had so many jams and got me so excited I did 11 minutes planks, 100 pushups and 100 leg lifts. SO CRAZY GOOD.

Proud of: Pushing through extra crosstraining work today. Grateful: Friends who get my obsession, to live close to so many resources, for great neighbors.

7 thoughts on “5 common roller skate problems — and how to fix them

  1. Everytime I get my skates adjusted just right, my right skate ends up doing something funky to where it has a life and direction if its own. I lose my one footed glide balance completely. Please help!!

  2. My daughter’s new roller skates go in when she tries to skate in a straight line, how do I adjust them to stop this happening? I am a complete novice so please explain it simply 😉

    1. Hey Glyn, sorry for the late response. Flip the skate laces-down, so the wheels face you. You’ll see two rods sticking up at you. I suspect you’ll need to take your wrench and tighten those. To make sure this is the problem, hold the skate firmly between your thighs and try twisting the two front wheels back and forth. If they move a lot, tighten them until they only move a little. Same with the back set of wheels. Have her put the skates on and lean all the way to the right and all the way to the left. There should now be some give, but not total movement.

  3. My skates are fairly old and I never find time to use them, but I took them for a spin and my friend tried them. She fell a few times (and it ticked me off when I told her to give me my skates and she refused) by the time I got them back, I put them on and they were rattling. She said they were rattling when I gave them to her but I know that’s a lie. I went to check on them today and the wheels refuse to turn. I’m so angry right now. This has NEVER happened before when I used them. I don’t know what to do. Please help!!!

    1. I think it’s likely a bearings issue. If they rattled (for her) when you gave them to her, the bearings were likely on their last limbs and whatever new strain she put on the skate broke those bearings. They need to be replaced. Have you replaced them before? If not, you should if they’re old. I replace mine about once a year. If you’ve never replaced your bearings in years, I wouldn’t take this out on your friend; they need some regular maintenance and likely would have broken soon anyway.

      Or perhaps she tightened the nuts on your wheels? In which case loosen them, but that wouldn’t cause rattling.

  4. I put new bearings and wheels on my skates. The right back foot feels like I’m constantly rolling over a bump. I’m pulled them off and changed them around and it’s still happening. I don’t know what could be causing this. My skates are fairing new and I just wanted to get better outdoor wheels/faster bearings. Help

  5. Hey new skater here!
    I just got a new pair of skates n I notice after my first run that one of my skates, not all of the wheels touch the ground, the wheels and trucks are tight but the actually balance is off, only the 2 wheels (back left and front right) stay on the ground at all times. Help?

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