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How to Lace Derby Skates

Updated February 21, 2017

Serious roller derby skaters almost always wear low-cut, speed-style quad roller skates. Skaters with this type of skates -- different from the high-heeled, taller, artistic skates most people envision when thinking of roller skates -- will need laces that are at least 72 inches in length. Because roller derby involves a lot of falling and involuntary toe dragging, roller derby skaters change their laces quite often.

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  1. Use a pair of laces that are at least 72 inches. Make sure the laces are not too wide; if they are too fat, they may have trouble squeezing through the eyelets on your skates. A good guideline for width is 3/8-inch. You may also want to consider using waxed laces, which last longer than normal laces and will hold a knot well.

  2. Choose which bottom set of eyelets you want to start lacing from. Many people choose to lace their skates up starting from the very first pair of eyelets near or on the toe of the skate. Others may prefer lacing the skates up starting a little higher up, if they suffer from toe cramping.

  3. Lace the skates up; it is best to lace the first pair from underneath the eyelets. This will help protect the laces from prematurely ripping or tearing if you drag your toe during a manoeuvre or fall.

  4. Alternate eyelets. After your lace goes through one hole on one side, weave it next through an eyelet on the other side. This will allow you to adjust the tightness of your skate as needed.

  5. Slide your foot into your skate to test the tightness of the lacing and adjust as necessary.

  6. Tip

    Appropriate laces can be purchased online from a shop that specialises in roller derby gear. You can also buy 72-inch boot laces at your local drugstore. Many retailers specialising in derby gear sell colourful laces with a variety of patterns and graphics, allowing you to personalise your skates. If your skate feels too tight on one area of your foot, you may decide to skip one set of eyelets when lacing your skates to alleviate the pressure. Lace a leather toe guard -- available for purchase at roller derby speciality stores -- to the toe of your skate to extend the life of your skates. Another protection option is applying a thick layer of old-fashioned duct tape to the toe area.


    Skaters with artistic boots generally require laces that are between 81 and 100 inches in length. Cotton laces tend to be the weakest laces.

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Things You'll Need

  • 72-inch laces
  • Roller derby skates

About the Author

Ginger Yapp has been writing professionally since 2006, specializing in travel and film topics. Her work has appeared in such publications as "USA Today" and online at Hotels.com. Yapp also has experience writing and editing for a small California newspaper. She earned her B.A. in film and media studies and has worked as an ESL teacher at an international school.

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