What do Connor McDavid, TJ Oshie, and Mitch Marner all have in common?
They all credit roller hockey with improving their ice hockey skills.
Are you an ice hockey player looking to play roller hockey in the summer?
Or, maybe you’re a roller hockey player looking to get an edge up in ice hockey with your inline skills?
Either way, if you’ve got questions about transitioning between the two sports, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll show you whether roller hockey is good for ice hockey, and tips on how to very quickly transition between each sport.
And, if you’re looking for the best roller hockey skates, check out our guide!
Here’s Whether Roller Hockey Is Good for Ice Hockey:
Yes, roller hockey is a great way to cross-train for ice hockey. When you can’t get ice time, playing roller hockey is a great way you can maintain your skating, balance, and muscle strength.
Will Playing Roller Hockey Hurt Your Ice Game?
No, playing roller hockey can’t hurt your ice hockey game… in most cases.
Unless of course you play a ton of roller hockey while not playing much ice hockey.
In an interview with NHL.com, Robby Glantz—a former NHL power skating coach said, “[Roller hockey] is a very good training tool as long as you understand what you’re doing.”
He said roller hockey is probably the most effective off-ice cross training tool for players to keep their leg, hip, and groin muscles in shape.
However, he also stated that roller hockey isn’t a perfect substitute and that ice hockey players should be careful that it doesn’t diminish their performance on the ice.
The biggest difference between ice hockey and roller hockey is that the stopping is completely different.
In roller hockey, you have to push into the heel to stop which, when translated to ice, would make you feel like your ankles would break.
However, if you’re using roller hockey as a way to maintain your skating and balance, then it can be a super effective cross-training sport.
In fact, even the Great One recommends ice hockey players try roller hockey. During the COVID-19 hockey lockout, he stated it would be a great cross-training option.
“…one of the things you lose quickly if you’re not skating every day is that skating stride. So if I was a player of today’s generation and we were locked out, I would try to find places to rollerblade as much as possible.”
Here is a list of NHL (and some ex-NHL players) who all played roller hockey and credit it with helping them out on the ice:
- Connor McDavid
- Mitch Marner
- Quinn Hughes
- Jack Hughes
- TJ Oshie
- Bobby Ryan
- Aleksander Barkov
- Alex Burrows
- Jason Zucker
- Joel Ward
- Kyle Connor
- Dylan Strome
- Derek Stepan
- Dylan Larkin
- Ryan Kesler
- Sam Gagner
- Paul Stastny
- Roberto Luongo
- Dominik Hasek
- Pat Maroon
How Easy Is it to Transition from Roller to Ice Hockey?
Are you a roller hockey player looking to try out ice hockey?
Well, you’re in for a treat. The truth is, you’re already ahead of the game compared to someone starting from scratch.
Overall, it’s relatively easy to transition from roller to ice hockey.
You’ve got your hands down. And, you’ve got your hockey sense. That’s the easy part.
The hard part is learning to skate using ice skates rather than roller blades.
The number one thing you need to focus on to speed up your learning curve with ice hockey is using ice skates.
Here are three tips to speed up the learning process when going from roller hockey to ice hockey:
1. Prioritize Skating on Ice
The biggest change for roller hockey players moving to ice is the difference in skating.
If you aren’t used to playing on ice, you’re going to feel strange. Skate blades are noticeably different from wheels.
You need to work on your balance, tight turns… and most of all: stopping. Stopping is going to be the biggest challenge. But, you just need to make sure you work on your edgework and get confident in stopping and you’ll be good in no time.
2. Learn The Different Ice Hockey Rules
The majority of gameplay will remain the same in roller to ice hockey.
However, there are a few differences you should keep in mind:
- You’ll add one player to each team (5 on 5 instead of 4 on 4).
- You’ll need to get used to playing with blue lines for offsides
- You’ll need to get used to the icing rule
3. Start Using a Puck Now
Ice hockey pucks are made from vulcanized rubber. This makes them feel way heavier than typical plastic roller hockey pucks.
You should start getting a feel for how a rubber puck is on the ice. You’ll notice a significant difference in your shot and even how you handle the puck.
Start using it the first day on the ice to get used to the feeling.
Do Rollerblades Help with Ice Skating?
If you want to get better on the ice, you have to always be thinking of ways to improve your game. This is true whether you have access to ice or not.
And for most people, it isn’t always easy to get extra ice time.
That’s where roller comes in.
The question is, do rollerblades help with ice skating?
I wrote an entire article on whether or not roller hockey is good for ice hockey. I highly encourage you to read it!
When it comes to playing roller hockey, why not ask the best ice hockey player in the world?
That’s what the Globe and Mail did.
In an interview with Connor McDavid, the Globe and Mail asked about whether roller blades help your skating ability on the ice.
According to McDavid, they do.
“Even when I wasn’t on the ice, I was always on my roller blades,” McDavid said. “It’s what’s kind of got me here. I love training that way. It’s kind of just by yourself. There’s no fancy skill coach, there’s no nothing. It’s just on your roller blades and working on some skills.”
If you don’t have much ice time in the off season, then getting on some roller blades and playing inline hockey is a great way to maintain and even improve your ice skating.
Is Roller Hockey the Same as Ice Hockey?
Roller hockey is very similar to ice hockey.
The general game of hockey is the same: two teams competing against one another to score a puck into the other team’s net. The team that does this the most wins the game.
Overall, the two sports are pretty close in terms of gameplay and rules.
However, there are a few primary differences:
The main difference is what you wear on your feet: rollerblades vs. ice skates.
This is hands down the biggest differentiator between the two sports.
The second difference is the rules. In roller hockey, players have four skaters and one goalie on the ice at a time. However, in ice hockey it’s five on five with a goalie on each side.
Another difference in rules is the offside rule. Roller hockey just has two zones: offensive zone and defensive zone. Ice hockey has three: offensive, defensive, and neutral zone. Players can only cross the blue line into the offensive zone once the puck carrier crosses the line. Otherwise, they’ll be called “offside”.
The third major difference is playing with a plastic puck in roller hockey versus a hard rubber puck in ice hockey. The rubber puck is a bit bigger and heavier, whereas the roller hockey puck is lighter and harder.
Is it Easier to Ice Skate or Roller Blade?
Rollerblading is easier than ice skating.
If you were to start either ice skating or rollerblading from scratch, then you would find rollerblades are a bit easier to skate on for one main reason…
Rollerblades have a wider surface area that makes contact with the ground, making it easier to skate.
Rollerblade wheels are much wider than ice skate blades, which means you don’t have as much pressure to maintain your balance.
3 Tips on Transitioning from Roller Hockey to Ice Hockey
Are you a roller hockey player looking to transition to ice hockey?
Well, here are a few tips for you:
1. Take Ice Skating Lessons
This may seem humbling, but this is the best thing you could do to speed up your game on the ice.
You need to adjust to ice skates over any other ice hockey skill. Your ability to excel in ice hockey is completely dependent on your ice skating ability.
And it is a lot different than ice hockey: the feel, the speed, the edges, and most importantly—stopping.
If you can’t get ice skating lessons, the next best option is to sign up for stick and puck a few times a week.
Stick and puck is a great way to get on the ice with your gear on (and your stick), and work on your skills with other hockey players. Plus, there will be a lot of other people there who have a wide range of skills—including some beginners.
There will also be advanced skaters there who will be more than willing to help you make your transition to ice hockey by helping you learn how to ice skate.
Don’t go to public skates unless you can’t get into stick and puck as it will be super crowded.
2. Use a Similar Ice Skate Model As Your Roller Blades
If you can, you should try to get a similar ice skate model as your inline skates.
For instance, if you use Bauer Vapor inline skates for roller hockey, you should aim to get some Bauer Vapor Ice Skates.
The boot fit will be very similar, which will help you transition much better between the sports.
3. Don’t Stop Playing Roller Hockey
If you plan on continuing to play roller hockey, you shouldn’t put your roller on hold to completely devote yourself to ice hockey.
There are a lot of skills that will transfer between the sports, so if you want to keep playing roller hockey (even though you’re learning ice hockey), keep playing roller.
Practicing both sports will complement the other. Ice skating will make you a better inline skater. Roller hockey stick handling will help your hands on the ice.
Bonus Tip: Get a 3/4 Hollow
If you want your ice skates to feel more similar to your roller blades, you can try this trick out: get your ice skate blades sharpened at a 3/4 hollow.
This will make it slide a bit like roller hockey wheels and use a profile radius of 11” (so your blade is flatter and does less of a rocking motion).
Keep in mind that this isn’t necessary, and has its disadvantages with ice hockey as well. But, if you want to make your transition a little easier, this will help.
3 Tips on Transitioning from Ice Hockey to Roller Hockey
Are you wanting to transition from ice hockey to roller hockey?
For most people, it will feel very strange and clunky at first. There will be a decent learning curve adjusting to roller blades.
However, there are a few ways you can help make the transition a little smoother:
1. Master Edges & The “Inline Turn”
The biggest challenge is going to be your edge work and stopping in roller hockey. It’s way different.
While ice hockey is all about quick stops and changes in direction, roller hockey isn’t.
In roller, if you try to make all these quick stops and starts, you’ll lose all your speed which is much harder to build up than ice hockey (and will tire you out).
You need to master the “inline turn” for most situations where you’d likely do a full stop in ice hockey.
While you can stop in roller hockey, it’s a bit different. You’ll slide more and your wheels will make a very loud noise (which is normal). Also, it’s much harder to master this stop than it is with ice hockey so be prepared to fall a few times.
2. Use a Similar Inline Skate Model As Your Ice Skates
To make the transition to roller hockey a little bit easier, you should look at getting the same or similar roller model as your current ice skates.
For instance, if you have the CCM Super Tacks Ice Skates, try to look for the Super Tacks Roller Skates.
The boot will feel almost identical between both models, allowing you a smoother transition from ice hockey to roller hockey.
However, you should add on the Marsblade frame kit to give your roller blades the rocking feeling you get on the ice.
3. Keep Playing Ice Hockey
One of the main reasons ice hockey players start playing roller hockey is to simply keep up the game during the off-season.
However, if you’re getting into roller hockey (and you can still find ice time) you should keep playing ice hockey throughout the week.
The skills between each sport complement each other very well. For instance, your stickhandling will improve on the ice when you practice roller hockey. And, your roller skating ability will improve as you continue skating on the ice.
The most important thing is that you get a major benefit from cross-training between roller and ice hockey: you keep your leg muscles and balance in great shape which translate well between both sports.
3 Best Roller Hockey Skates for Ice Hockey Players
Best Overall: Bauer Vapor 2XR Pro
Runner Up: Mission Inhaler WM01
Best Budget: Tour Volt KV2
Bonus: Marsblade O1 Complete Roller Frame Kit
For a more in-depth review, check out our article on the top 3 roller hockey skates for ice hockey players here.