Given the apparently “daredevil” appearance of roller skating, one of the most common questions among parents is – do the benefits of roller skating for kids really outweigh the risks? Or, to be more specific, does skating improve height to an extent that justifies the bruises and injuries ? The average skater’s answer to this question would be to point out that virtually any sports involves bruises, so why single out skating? Yet the broader question of the utility of skating for kids is a valid one. To answer this question, we shall first discuss the pros and cons of skating for kids, and then discuss the specific question of height in some detail.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Skating
If we talk of advantages first, these roughly are –
- Muscular Development – Perhaps the most obvious benefit of skating is that it creates particularly strong glutes and limb muscles, while ensuring that the overall development of the body remains balanced. Speaking of balance, skating also develops an excellent sense of balance, which can prove vital if your kid wishes to take up activities as diverse as dance, fencing or gymnastics. Last but not least, it develops stamina and a strong heart, both of which will serve her in good stead as she grows up.
- Rhythm and Coordination – Skating teaches kids to coordinate their body movements and in doing so, achieve a steady rhythm. While many of the sports such as football or basketball may be overtly based on skill and aggression, skating ensures that your child learns the importance of coordination early.
- Quick, measurable progress – Because the results of skating are highly visible, your child can learn for herself what mistakes she is making and how perhaps she can rectify them. Combined with the great sporting spirit that exists in most rinks, this can help her develop a sporting attitude and a positive outlook towards challenges.
- Skate, fall, get up and skate again – Unlike games which can be won by dint of aggression or pace, skating will punish you with plenty a fall if you try to go beyond your limits. Children learn that falling, getting bruises and resuming with lessons learned is an integral part of life.
- Men and women are equal – Oftentimes, it is believed that women play second fiddle to men when it comes to major sporting events like football, basketball or tennis. In skating however, there is no difference in technique or rules for men and women (or boys and girls), and this allows your young one to learn that she is no less than the boys that are skating as well.
Disadvantages, as any skater would tell you, are far less. Yet, there are some especial ones that you need to look out for –
- Blade Injuries – Most often, kids will be so enthusiastic about skating that they will forget basic safety rules such as not skating around someone who is sitting or has fallen down. In such cases, the child who has fallen is likely to get struck by the blades or wheels and these may even lead to stitches. As such, always head to a rink that has a qualified trainer around all the time and is not too crowded.
- Dealing with strangers – While not really a disadvantage for adults, young kids may find it unnerving to be handled by people who they are totally unfamiliar with. If the trainer or handler scolds the child, this may create a fear of all sports and socialising in her. To avoid this, you should ideally spend the first few classes with your loved one so she gets used to the surroundings and the trainers.
Does Skating Increase Height?
Coming to the question of whether skating in itself will cause your kid to grow taller than if she practised some other sport, the answer is NO. But, it would make her taller than if she sat around at home.
The reasoning is that while the genetic height range of each person is fixed due to the parents’ traits, it takes adequate exercise, nutrition and sleep to reach it. Hence, if your child chose to play volleyball instead of skating, she would still receive the exercise she would need to spur the growth hormones. If she eats well and sleeps well, she will gain the height written in her genes.
Where skating may help is in allowing for somewhat faster development since skating after all is more intensive than many of the other turn-based games like volleyball. Further, stronger musculature and balance developed as a result of skating would allow her to work out more and this, in turn, can aid in height improvement. Hence, while skating as an exercise may not have the aces when it comes to increasing your kid’s height, it will help in allowing her to achieve her expected height sooner.
Most of what has been discussed above has presumed that the child will receive qualified training and attention. While the average adult skater will be able to teach children the basics of skating, it is best to enrol your child in a skating school or club. Not only will this help her make friends in the same area, it would also enable her to progress to the higher levels of skill without your having to skip work to train her. Coupled with training at a comfortable pace and adequate motivation, this should enable her to obtain all the benefits of roller skating for kids that we have mentioned above.