​Heel Or Flat? Which Roller Skate Boot Should You Choose?

Posted by Rae Loos on 10th Dec 2023

​Heel Or Flat? Which Roller Skate Boot Should You Choose?

I began my quad skating journey with a pair of Moxi Lolly Skates in beautiful pool blue. After inline skating off and on for my entire life, I was excited to explore the aesthetic of a classic quad skate boot with a narrow toe and a relatively high heel. I put very little thought into the type of skating I wanted to do, or what would work best with my feet. While I loved those skates dearly, a year later I switched to flat boots and I’ve never looked back!

Heel or flat? It’s a crucial decision to make for anyone new to skating or for skaters looking to change their set ups. Comfort, skill level, and personal preference are important considerations, and you’ll also want to think about the style of skating you plan to do. Here are some important points to help you make an informed decision.

Skating Ability

The Moxi Lolly is an example of a skate with a heel.

Heeled roller skates, sometimes called high-top skates, look like a classic boot with a raised heel of about 2 inches. These boots are often taller, giving them more ankle support and stability. They’re a popular choice for beginners. The raised heel helps shift your center of gravity right over the balls of your feet, which is helpful in preventing you from falling backward (you want to instead fall to either side or forward onto your pads).

Bont Parkstar Roller Skate

Flat roller skates, sometimes referred to as low-top skates, have a mostly flat sole, with a slightly raised heel that is hidden within the boot. These boots are often lighter weight, and they are lower cut around the ankles. They allow for a greater range of motion, which is fantastic for experienced skaters with stronger ankles. This isn’t to say that beginners MUST wear a skate with a heel, nor must pros skate without a heel, but your skating experience is something you should certainly consider when choosing a boot. If you are a new skater and you choose a flat boot, be prepared to adjust your posture to avoid falling backward. 


When it comes to comfort, both heeled and flat roller skates have their advantages. Heeled skates provide additional ankle support, which can be beneficial for individuals with weak ankles or those prone to injuries. The anatomy of your foot will also determine which type of skate you find more comfortable. In general, skates without a heel have a bit more room in the toe for wide feet. As the proud owner of a pair of bunions, I personally find skates without a heel much more comfortable. A raised heel means added pressure on the balls of your feet. If you know you can’t stand wearing high heels, then consider a flat skate boot. If you’re experiencing discomfort but you aren’t ready to change your boot, consider trying a new insole, or adjusting how you tie your laces.

Type of Skating

The discipline of skating that you plan to focus on plays a huge role in your decision to skate with or without a heel. Depending on what you are trying to do, your skating will either be enhanced or hindered by the style of your boot.

Roller Derby

Most derby skaters avoid boots with a heel, and many leagues have rules against them. The low boots allow for greater agility and speed needed for the sport. It helps to keep your body weight low and stable in a crouched stance. In such a high impact sport, a boot with a heel can lead to injury.

Speed Skating

Flat boot all the way. It’s physics. Without a heel you can put more energy into each stride, allowing you to go faster. Same as with derby, you naturally want to take forward leading stride to maintain balance.


This one is a toss up. Artistic skaters wear a skate with a heel to help them maintain an upright stance. You will see many folks at the rink jamming out on heeled skates, but many jam skaters wear flat skates, especially if they're doing a lot of break-dance like floor work.

Park/Aggressive Quad Skating

Park skaters tend to have a mix of types of skates depending on personal preference and the types of tricks they enjoy most. There seem to be fewer rules for this relatively new discipline!

Try Them On

Ultimately, the choice between heeled and non-heeled roller skates boils down to personal preference, skill level, and the type of skating you intend to pursue. It's essential to try on different styles and models to determine which one feels most comfortable and suits your skating style. Remember, the right pair of roller skates can significantly enhance your skating experience, so take the time to find the perfect fit, and accept that what you need in a skate may change over time.