Inline skating resembles traditional roller skating, but the wheels on each skate are arranged in a single line. Skates typically have between three and five wheels, and have brakes on the back of the right unit (if at all).

Styles of inline skating include aggro, street, rec, vert, hockey, and speed.

Though examples on inline skates exist that date back to the early 20th century, the sport did not reach mass popularity until the Olson brothers of Minneapolis conceived of the sport of hockey played on land, as training during the off-season

Scott Olson was a semi-pro hockey player for the Winnipeg Jets. In 1978 saw somebody selling ice skates with wheels on them and purchased the patent. In 1980 improved the design and came to market, building the skates with his brother Brennan in their parents' house in Bloomington, Minnesota.

The market boomed in the mid-1990s, with annual growth consistently over 10%, and reaching as high as 40%. The Olson's sold out to Benetton. Their company, under this ownership, remains a major manufacturer, as are Salomon and K2.

A typical inline skate wheel consists of one rubber wheel (usually with an aluminum core), two bearings, and a spacer. The spacer holds the bearings apart so that the outer edge of each bearing lines up with the outer wheel edge, and the axle goes through the spacer to hold the wheel assembly in the frame. In recreational and fitness skates, the frame is generally part of the boot. In speed skates, the skate frame is replacable with tools. Hypnos are a variant of recreational skates.

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