Lace Up with Confidence: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Your First Hockey Skates

If you’re new to hockey, one of the first and most important pieces of equipment you’ll invest in is skates. Since they’re your direct connection to the ice, finding the right pair for your playing style as well as your level and budget is vital to your performance. A well-fitting pair not only helps you to perform your best, but they’ll also help you to avoid pain and injury while you’re on the ice.

What to Look for When Buying Your First Hockey Skates?

man putting on hockey skates

First things first, choose comfortable and high-performance hockey skates that deliver proper support and stability. This can ultimately make or break your hockey experience as it’ll directly affect your ease of movement on the ice, your speed and your overall performance. To make the selection process easier and stress-free, there are some important buying considerations to take into account.

Size and Fit

An improperly sized skate can be uncomfortable and painful, affecting your performance and enjoyment. Moreover, an ill-fitting pair might create blisters, weaken the boot’s important support, or destroy your pleasure in the game.

In general, your ice hockey skate size will be 1-1½ sizes smaller than your shoe size. However, it is not rare for players to have hockey skates that are up to 2-2½ sizes smaller than their shoe size, so don’t be concerned if your skate size is too large.

Your foot size and shape will also influence the hockey skates you select. Do you have a narrow foot, a wide foot, a flat foot, a high arch, thick ankles, or narrow ankles? You should look for a pair that suits the shape of your feet, such as one with a wider toe box or a specific footbed.

Hockey skate manufacturers create skates for all forms, sizes, and playing styles, which is why there are so many alternatives. They understand that you require skates that are customised to your foot and game, so keep looking and trying on models until you find the ones that feel right.

Material Options

Skates for playing hockey are often made of synthetic materials and performance polymers, with high-density plastics used for the “last,” or the bottom of the skate that determines the shape. As you browse, you’ll find more modern materials and technology designed to improve protection, comfort, weight, and durability.

For instance, professional models designed for the most serious players have high-tech materials that offer a secure fit and a lightweight design that can handle the abuse from regular play. In this regard, some professional hockey skates Canada retailers offer are constructed using a patented Curv Composite material, which is 3D-lasted for a precise boot shape, as well as a thermoformed X-rib pattern in the quarter package, which creates a tighter fit in the heel and ankle. Meanwhile, some skate series feature an anatomical carbon composite and form-fitting liners for increased comfort and moisture control.

However, all skates are built the same way, with different portions of the skate protecting different parts of the foot and ankle. A hockey skate is essentially a boot coupled to a blade; however, the boot has multiple components, whereas the blade usually has an integrated holder and runner. All designs are constructed on a high-density plastic last shaped like a foot, which dictates the size and width of the skate.

Style of Play

pair of hockey skates on the ice

Your position and playing style may also influence the right selection. A finesse player who wants to make precise spins and cuts needs different performance attributes in a hockey skate than a power skater who wants to extract the most potential energy out of their stride.

Fortunately, the major manufacturers have designed their product ranges to meet these various needs. For example, some boots are constructed for speed and agility, making them great for conventional wingers and other quick-moving skaters, whereas other models are developed for power and stability, which are more common requirements for defensemen and more powerful players.

Common Types

In terms of style, you can opt between goalie skates or players. As well as the hockey and figure ones. Goalies have shorter boots for increased range of motion, longer, thicker blades for side-to-side movement, and a wrap over the boot called a cowling to protect against heavy shots. These are developed to meet the unique performance and protection requirements for blocking shots and protecting the net. Simply said, goalies require goalie skates, and player skates do not suffice.

Hockey and figure options, on the other hand, each have elements that are exclusive to their sport. Figure alternatives have longer, heavier blades with a toe pick in the front, which are ideal for doing jumps and pivots as well as tracing long, graceful arcs on the ice. In contrast to the hard plastic boot on an ice hockey skate, the boot on a figure skate is often made of pliant leather. Nonetheless, due to the smaller blades, hockey skates for sale are lighter than figure ones and are designed for speed, acceleration, and quick changes in direction.

Baking and Sharpening

Heat moulding or baking your skates for hockey will help them break in faster fit better and be more comfortable. Some players choose to bake their skates at home in the oven that’s probably possible, but we advise against it. It is easy to damage them or even injure yourself, so leave it to the specialists. Also, keep in mind that heat moulding is not possible on all models.

Sharpening your pair is a vital aspect of maintaining them, and it’s also important for performance. Having a sharp skate blade is essential for accelerating, turning, and stopping on the ice. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, have your skates sharpened by a professional.