Hockey Skates are arguably one of the most important pieces of equipment for any hockey player. The right size, style, and fit of your skate will allow you to improve your speed, accuracy, and shots and mastering the art of skating. To help you start your journey toward becoming an excellent skater and highly-skilled hockey player, you need to start with the right skates and the right fit.
One of the most common questions I get from players or parents – What are the best hockey skates I should buy?
My answer will always continue to be – Buying the right pair of hockey skates is based on your connection to the ice, which can make a big impact on your performance. Let’s be realistic, the right pair of skates won’t magically improve your skating abilities, but the right fit can help make the most of your abilities and correct your movement on the ice.
Before you purchase a new pair of hockey skates there are quite a few things to consider from skate style to proper fit. Let’s take a look at some of these considerations
PARTS OF A HOCKEY SKATE
Let’s quickly go over the breakdown of a hockey skate, which may seem pretty simple.
A boot attached to a blade and that’s it. Ok, it is more complex than it appears. For example, there are several styles of boot from different manufacturers and the boot itself is made up of as many as six components, available in multiple configurations. The same goes for both the blade holder and the blade.
By taking the time to determine the right hockey skates for your foot shape, skill level, playing style, and budget, you can step on the ice with confidence every time.
The first step is understanding how the pieces all fit together.
PARTS OF THE BOOT
The main part of a hockey skate boot is called the “Quarter Package“, which starts from the toe cap to the heel and up around the rear and sides of the ankle. The majority of hockey boots are formed around a high-density plastic that is moulded in the shape of a human foot. Different manufacturers produced boots of different shapes, accommodating wide or narrow feet. This is why it is important that the skates you choose are designed to be comfortable for the shape of your foot.
Each part of the boot may be constructed of materials that affect levels of protection and comfort, weight, and durability between Low and High-End skates. In this article, I will focus more on the Mid to High-End skates.
Most Mid to High-end skates are designed for the most serious players, incorporate technical materials that ensure the most secure fit and can withstand the most abuse, while keeping the overall weight of the skate as low as possible. Also, you will find materials with fancy names, such as RocketFrame Composite or TUUK Lightspeed Edge. The good news is oftentimes, the cutting-edge technologies used to make the most expensive skates filter down to lower-priced models. So, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get good performance with Mid-end skates.
Often the inside of hockey skates has advanced boot liners and footbeds (or insole). The boot liner is the inside surface, which incorporates strategically placed padding for protection and a secure fit. Most boots offer specific protection for the ankles and Achilles region at the back of the foot. The footbed is a removable insert that fits in the bottom of the boot and serves as the base on which your footrests. Footbeds come in many configurations to fit different-size arches, comfort, odour protection, moisture management, and better edge control on the ice.
The hard piece on the bottom of the boot is called the outsole, to which the blade assembly is attached to. The outsole is very rigid, resisting the torque created when the player applies pressure during the stride. Skates in the Mid to High price range feature outsoles constructed from composites that achieve a good balance between low weight and rigidity.
What fit do you prefer?
Some skaters prefer a snug fit, while others like a looser fit. Different skate brands will provide different fits for your feet. The skate fitting image guide below covers the different sizes and widths which will help you pick the right size of skates.
Remember, the right fit depends on the shape of your feet as well as your personal preference.
Let’s look at two of the most popular bands
Bauer Skate Fit Profiles
CCM Skate Fit Profiles
THREE THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING HOCKEY SKATES
Everybody that plays hockey will want the “Top Of The Top” High-End hockey skates. The truth is, not everyone is willing or prepared to spend that kind of money, especially if you’re not playing in the NHL. Determine how much you’re willing to spend, in case you don’t have the funds now, start putting money aside. Start looking at the models in your price range and compare features with other brands. Just like buying a car, you may be enticed to go a bit higher than you expected or find what you need at a lower price point. Always keep in mind that your skates are the most important hockey equipment you will buy.
As I mentioned earlier comfort and fit must be priorities. You won’t be able to perform on the ice if your feet hurt.
Do you have wide feet, high or low arches? Anything special about your feet? So, there are few things to look for and as follows:
Comfort: The more you play, the bigger concern comfort should be.
Stiffness: Stiffer skates offer better control and transfer of power.
Padding: Well-placed padding provides comfort, protects the foot from flying pucks and slashing stick blades, and also plays an important role in how the boot fits.
If this is the case you will want to choose a hockey skate that can accommodate your feet properly. For instance, one with a larger toe box or a special footbed.
The good news most all mid to High-End skates are available in standard and wide models. As mentioned in a previous article you need to find a great pro shop with a professional who will help you find that edge and knows you, or you can go online and find fitting guides. Please keep in mind sizing varies somewhat from manufacturer to manufacturer, so don’t assume Bauer skates will automatically be comfortable as CCM skates.
One last tidbit, pick a lacing system to help your boot be as snug as possible. If your foot keeps slipping inside the boot, you won’t have good control of your edges. Also, bake your new skates. This process will help the moulds in the skates adjust to your feet.
Are you a Rec player just playing for fun or planning to pursue the sport to higher levels?
Let’s just say you are planning to pursue the sport to a higher level, then you are planning to spend many hours each week in your hockey skates. The demand to perform at high levels necessitate skates with the most advanced features. Here are just a few of the things to consider:
Weight: Lighter skates reduce fatigue and help with speed.
High-Quality Runner: Harder steel holds its edges better and lasts longer. Also, with a two-piece system you can change runners on the fly.
Features: Specific components of high-end models may fit your skating needs.
Take into consideration your specific needs and desires. Find the right pair of hockey skates to boost your time on the ice. Whether you’re simply looking to have fun or trying to take your game to the next level. Selecting the right hockey skates is an important first step.
FINAL WRAP UP
Hockey skates range in price from about $75 for an entry-level youth model, to more than $1000 for a top-of-the-line high-performance model. Each manufacturer offers hockey skates in a wide range of performance and price, so players have many options to choose from. Also, variations in materials, construction, and features account for this wide disparity, and the sheer number of skates available from multiple manufacturers means that there’s a good chance you can find exactly what you want and need. In the end, pick a pair of skates that fit you comfortably, fit your hockey needs and no need to break the bank just to look cool!
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