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Ice Skating

Everything you need to know about buying ice skates

Ice Skating

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How to buy Figure Skates

Purchasing the right figure skate is essential to your child's performance on the ice. A skate must fit properly and be the right skate for their level of ability.  It is important that you buy your child’s skates at a skate shop that knows figure skating and the different figure skating levels.  You must have someone who is willing to work with you to find the perfect fit.   A proper fitting boot is extremely important to prevent painful blisters and improve performance.  The boot and blade combination should be level-specific and should perfectly fit your child's abilities and needs. So keep in mind that he important considerations when purchasing a boot are the size of the skater, level of skating and the amount of time on the ice.

Determine Level Skating

The first thing to do is to determine how the skater will be wearing their figure skates. It is important to know how often they will be using the skates.  Will they be taking lessons?  Do they plan on doing jumps?  Are they in this sport for the long term?  Are they interested in ice dancing? 

Skates, like most sporting equipment, get more sophisticated as ability increases and it will become necessary to purchase boots and blades separately.  But for the beginning stages of figure skating most manufacturers produce a pre-made boot and blade combination that are available and acceptable. So if you find that your child is a casual figure skater, one who skates only a few times a month, consider purchasing pre-made figure skates . Buy the boots and blades separately if the skater is going to be figure skating often, performing jumps or ice dancing.  It is generally worth the money to purchase ice skates with quality ice skates blades. Otherwise, you will likely have to spend money and/or time sharpening them.

How to determine a proper fit?

When determining size be sure you measure both feet in case one is bigger than the other, and when sizing for width, both feet should be measured while you are in the sitting position.   The skater should only wear a thin pair of socks while skating, so size accordingly.  It is important for the skater to try on several pairs of boots to determine a correct fit, because each brand will vary slightly. Consider getting information on fit from the website of the manufacturer or vendor prior to your visit.  Also be sure to look at the boot's tongue for stiffness and padding to protect your legs and feet from injury.

Your child's boots should provide a snug fit.  Their foot has to fit in the boot so that there is no extra room especially in the heel. When walking around, the skater's heel should not lift out of the boot. The lacing pattern should be constant from toe to ankle. When lacing skates, always lace the instep firmly. Then, lace the ankle eyelets snugly enough that there is ankle support. A skate needs to be an extension of your child's foot.  Make sure that the toes can wiggle but the heel does not slide up and down or around once the foot is properly laced in the skate.  Make sure the ice skate boot provides adequate ankle support. The ankle support should allow the skater some flexibility around the ankle, but not be too loose. If the ankle support is not correct it could result in the likelihood of sustaining an injury. 

Can Use Rental or Used Skates?

If rental skates are available and in good condition, the best path is to go with rentals for at least a half-dozen sessions. This will give you time to make sure that your child is making progress and intends to keep skating.  If you choose not to invest in skates, when renting skates, ask for a pair of firm boots with adequate support and sharp blades . 

Good used skates can be okay for your child, especially in the beginning stages. If you plan to buy used, you must do your homework so that you have an understanding about the brand and model of the boot and blade that you are interested in purchasing. The problem with a pair of skates that someone else broke in is that they will never fit you as well as they should.  A great source of information is your coach.  So be sure to talk to him/her about suggestions on what to look for. Make sure the boot has support and the blade has some “sharpening life” left in it. Be sure to ask questions to get some details on the age of the skates, and activity level of the skater.  Try some specialty shops, some will exchange a boot that a skater wasn’t satisfied with and then resell it at cost. If you can get a pair that has only a couple of hours on it for half the price it is a great deal.  Used kids skates can also be worthwhile because with growing feet kids are less likely to be affected by the less perfect fit of a broken in skate.

 

How to buy Hockey Skates

Hockey skates are  the most important piece of hockey equipment you can buy. Because they are so important, it is vital that you buy the right skate for your child's style of play, and that they are sized properly. Don't underestimate the importance of hockey skates because they provide the skater with speed, control and protection. It is extremely important to get the right skate for your child so go to a reputable skate shop, where the staff understands hockey, to purchase the skates.   You will need to explain to them how often you skate as well as your skate history. 

Hockey skates are comprised of two basic parts: the boot and the blade.

Boot

  • Most skates are manufactured with a combination of leather and synthetic materials for durability, performance, and comfort. The exact mixture of these components depends on the quality of the skate and the cost. Look for tough materials like carbon reinforcements and Ballistic nylon.
  • Hard plastic boots offer better protection against pucks and provide more ankle support.
  • Look for a skate that has a non-slip tongue.
  • Evaluate features like memory foam inserts, reinforced nylon quarters and heel locks for stability and ankle support.
  • Hardcore players should go with a stiff boot while active players should look for a moderately stiff boot. Recreational players should opt for pure comfort.
  • Heavier players generally benefit from a stiffer boot.

Blade

  • An important factor in performance is blade radius, or the amount of the skate blade that is actually in contact with the ice
  • The radius is measured by placing the blades together, bottom to bottom, and holding them up to the light. The length where the blade edges make contact is the radius.
  • If you are a beginning skater you will want a radius of about five inches. This increases your ability to propel yourself along the ice while providing stability.
  • A radius of 3-4 inches helps in cutting and turning.
  • Forwards prefer blades with a shorter radius to help with maneuverability .
  • Defensemen look for longer radius blades for extra stability.
  • All hockey ice skates have the blades already attached.

How to Determine Proper Fit

Most hockey skates are sized smaller than your normal shoe size.  It is important that they are tight to offer stability when skating. Your foot should be measured standing up so that it is fully extended.  Then start one size smaller than your shoe size. Be sure to wear the sports socks that you will be wearing when you play to insure sizing accuracy.  

When you slip your foot in, your toes should lightly touch the toe of the boot, and the heel should feel stable. Tap the heel on the floor several times to make sure your heel is firmly set in the back of the boot then lace the skates firmly. You should apply the most pressure on the top four eyelets.

Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart and crouch slightly, so that the knee is over the toe. Your foot will shift ever so slightly. This is the skating stance.  If your toes are scrunched up, the skate is too small.  If your foot has any room to move inside the boot, the skate is too big. Skates come in different widths so if it feels too narrow ask for the same size in a wider boot. The skater should try on several pairs of boots for a correct fit because the brands vary slightly in styles and cuts.  Be sure to walk around in the skates and check for pressure points or heel movement.  Remember that with all skates there is a break in period.

Tips for Fitting a Child's Skate

If you are purchasing skates for a child remove the insole from the skate and ask the child to stand in it. Make sure the heel is properly aligned with the heel of the insole. Check the big toe, it should almost reach the front edge of the insole, with no more than half an inch of space to allow growth during the hockey season.