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Movement Experiences for Children
KIN 366
Instructor: Dr. Shannon S.D. Bredin
Office Hours:
Class Schedule:
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Skating refers to the action of someone gliding and progressing along a surface. This involves the use of a pair of skates; a piece of footwear (skate boot) with wheels or a blade attached at the sole. Skates allow people to move at a faster pace than they are able to when running (Kte'pi, 2009). Skating is also used as a means to teach children and help them learn fundamental movement skills and fundamental sport skills, as well as improve health, among other things (Skate Canada, 2010).

Types of Skating

Ice Skating

Ice skating involves the use of a steel blade attached at the bottom of the boot to move around on an ice surface. The ability to ice skate is necessary to participate in sports like ice hockey, figure skating and speed skating; all involve a different type of skate named after their respective activity (Humble & Smith, 2010). Ice skating is a popular pastime across Canada indoors, and in colder communities, outdoors where rinks can be made in backyards or on the streets. There are numerous ice hockey, figure skating and speed skating competitions run around the world, including events in the Winter Olympics.

In-line/Roller Skating

Roller and in-line skating involves skates with wheels instead of a blade to move, and are used on solid ground surfaces (Kte'pi, 2009). The difference between inline and roller skates is in the layout of the wheels on the boot. Both normally use four wheels, but roller skates position two wheels at the front and two wheels at the back of the skate boot, whereas inline skates position the wheels at the mid-sagittal (middle) plane of the boot. In-line skating later became and remains more commonly used as a leisure activity.

Skating in Society

Skating can be beneficial for children, and is also a fun and popular activity (Weiss, 2000). This is especially true in Canada where many community recreation centers have an ice rink and offer skating lessons for children of all ages and abilities, and drop-in public skating sessions for all people to participate in.

It is more feasible to be able to in-line or roller skate on account of it can be done on any ground surface. This includes a driveway, paved backyard, park or street. In-line and roller skating can also be done at home, however there are greater risks of injury to the self and damaging things around the house.


The main benefit seen in children from skating is it can help improve their balance. One study found that ice skating lessons helped improve a child’s balance from before starting the program (Keller, Röttger, & Taube, 2014). The program consisted of two groups of children aged 1-18 with a mean age of about 13 years old, with one intervention group taking part in two 90 minute skating lessons per week, for a month, and a control group in normal physical education. In the same study, the skating group also showed significantly improved performance in the functional reach task (Keller, Röttger, & Taube, 2014).

Another study of similar design looking at performance of children about 11 or 12 years old with inline skates showed a similar improvement in children’s balance. The intervention group also showed an increase in strength as measured by a vertical jump test (Muehlbauer, Kuehnen, & Granacher, 2013).

Children with Disabilities

There has been research done to show the benefit of ice skating for disabled children as well. Following a five year old cerebral palsy patient who needed crutches to walk, she began an ice skating program for four months, and improvements were noticed within a month of starting (Walsh & Scharf, 2014). By the end, the child showed improved posture, use of her lower extremities and ability to walk or stand with less resistance, among other improvements. The improvements were still there when tested four months after the skating lessons concluded, but not as much as there were after the initial cessation of the program (Walsh & Scharf, 2014).

Another study looked at the effects of an adaptive ice skating program on 22 children ranging from age 5-12 years who suffered from some kind of disability, including autism, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, and others (Fragala-Pinkham, Dumas, Boyce, Peters, & Haley, 2009). This program ran once a week for 6 weeks. The conclusions are based off of subjective feedback from the children’s parents, who stated that they noticed improved leg strength, balance, endurance, and self-esteem of their child (Fragala-Pinkham, Dumas, Boyce, Peters, & Haley, 2009).


Like all physical activity, a participant can injure themselves skating, with the most common method being when they lose their balance and fall (McGeehan, Shields, & Smith, 2004). There are various injuries that a child can suffer skating, but the two most common types of injuries are related to the: i) head and face, and ii) upper extremity.

Head and Face Injuries

Head injuries are particularly common. They occur in all types of skating activities, although a greater proportion of injuries suffered ice skating involve the head and face region (McGeehan, Shields, & Smith, 2004). These injuries would include a concussion and/or facial cuts.

Upper Extremity Injuries

An upper extremity injury refers to fractures, lacerations or soft tissue injury of the hand and/or arm. Of the injuries suffered by in-line and roller skaters, a greater number of them were related to the upper extremity (Knox, Comstock, McGeehan, & Smith, 2006).

Safety Precautions

When taking part in skating or other physical activities, there is always a risk of injury occurring. Planning ahead and taking certain precautions can reduce the likelihood or severity of injuries to children while skating.


A helmet is crucial to protect a child from suffering a head injury, or reduce the likelihood and severity of injury if they were to hit their head while skating, especially in a recreational setting (McGeehan, Shields, & Smith, 2004). Furthermore, children can add a cage or full face shield to their helmet to protect their lacerations as well.


To shield a child from injuries to the extremities, upper or lower body, padding can be used. This includes padding for the elbows, knees and wrists (McGeehan, Shields, & Smith, 2004).

Parental assistance

At a young age and with limited experience on skates, younger children are more likely to fall. Having a parent or someone the child can trust nearby to help can decrease the chance of injury, and give the child more freedom to attempt to skate. If they were to fall, the child may be more comfortable knowing that there’s someone nearby to help them.

Practical Applications

Skating is not the easiest thing to learn. When children are younger and do not have very good balance or leg strength, they can get discouraged if they find it too difficult and constantly fall when they are trying to skate. Research has shown that there is incentive to learning how to skate, so it is important to encourage children if they are learning to skate to continue.

It is also important to keep in mind the safety considerations while skating as well. Most children are unlikely to continue with a skating program if they are constantly falling and hurting themselves. The parent should be sure to take precautions that their child will be safe, whether skating on the ice or a street. This includes fitting their child with protective equipment and having themselves or another adult within close proximity to the child to help if it is needed.


Fragala-Pinkham, M. A., Dumas, H. M., Boyce, M., Peters, C. Y., & Haley, S. M. (2009, August). Evaluation of an adaptive ice skating programme for children with disabilities. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, 12(4), 215-223.

Humble, R. N., & Smith, H. (2010). Skating. In M. B. Werd, & E. L. Knight (Eds.), Athletic Footwear and Orthoses in Sports Medicine (pp. 247-266). New York: Springer New York.

Keller, M., Röttger, K., & Taube, W. (2014, December). Ice skating promotes postural control in children. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 24(6), 456-461.

Knox, C. L., Comstock, R. D., McGeehan, J., & Smith, G. A. (2006, August 1). Differences in the Risk Associated With Head Injury for Pediatric Ice Skaters, Roller Skaters, and In-Line Skaters [Abstract]. PEDIATRICS, 110(2), 549-554.

Kte'pi, B. (2009). Skating. In R. P. Carlisle, Encyclopedia of Play in Today's Society (pp. 640-641). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

McGeehan, J., Shields, B. J., & Smith, G. A. (2004, July). Children Should Wear Helmets While Ice-Skating: A Comparison of Skating-Related Injuries. PEDIATRICS, 114(1), 124-28.

Muehlbauer, T., Kuehnen, M., & Granacher, U. (2013, December). Inline Skating for Balance and Strength Promotion in Children During Physical Education. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 117(3), 665-681.

Skate Canada. (2010). In Pursuit Of Personal Excellence: Skate Canada's Guide to Long-Term Athlete Development. Retrieved February 27, 2015, from

Walsh, S. F., & Scharf, M. G. (2014, April). Effects of a recreational ice skating program on the functional mobility of a child with cerebral palsy. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, 30(3), 189-195.

Weiss, M. R. (2000, September). Motivating Kids in Physical Activity. President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Research Digest, 3(11), 1-8.