Hockey Skate FAQ

Everything you wanted to know about skates

1. How do I know if I have the correct skate sizing?
A - You should make sure your toes do not touch the end of the skate. You should still be able to wiggle them. Also make sure your heel does not raise up in the boot and make sure the sides of your feet are comfortable and not being pinched.

2. Is it ok to buy a pair of skates that are a size or two bigger than a youngster's feet, assuming he or she will grow into them?
A - You shouldn't buy skates that are too big for anybody, especially a beginner as it will hamper their skating ability and may cause injury.

3. How can I mold the skates to my feet?
A - Many of the new brands are equipped with a heat activating system. Most sports shops have a small oven to heat up the skates and when you lace them up they will mold to your personal foot shape.

4. How do I break my skates in?
A - The heat molding will break the skates in to an extent, but basically the more you skate in them, the more heat your feet will produce and this will eventually break them in by softening and stretching them.

5. How often is skate sharpening recommended?
A - This comes down to personal preference. Some players sharpen them every game while others may only sharpen them a few times per season.

6. What do I do if my blade breaks?
A - The skate blades and blade holders can break or eventually wear down. If this happens they can be replaced.

7. If the leather on my skate tears away at the eyelets do I need to get a new pair of skates?
A - No, if your skates have minor damage you should take them to a sports repair shop or even a cobbler/shoe shop to get them repaired.

8. Should I use skate guards on my skates?
A - If you use skate guards make sure your skate blades are completely dry before putting them on.

9. What type of laces should I use?
A - This is also a personal preference. There are colored laces and waxed laces. The wax ones may keep the tightness better and keep out the moisture. Hockey skate laces can also hurt your hands though, so make sure you use laces that are comfortable to tie up.

10. Why do some players skate in their bare feet?
A - This became popular when Bobby Orr revealed he skated in bare feet. It's just a personal preference, though I wouldn't recommend it if you get blisters.

11. Why are hockey skates black?
A - Skates are not always completely black as they are now being made in a few other colors. Some skates are a combination of black and other colors. When skates were mainly leather made they were actually a dark brown not black.

12. What is the difference between figure skates and hockey skates?
A - These are two different sports and the skates are made specifically for each sport. Hockey skates are much thicker and padded for protection with the blade being held in place by a holder. Figure skates are actually shaped more like a low cut dress boot and the blade isn't held in with a holder, it's attached directly to the boot and screwed in, not riveted, so the skater can easily change blades. Figure skaters usually buy the boot and blade separately and have the blade attached. The blades are also different as a figure skate blade has a specially designed serrated toe to let them dig into the ice while performing routines.

13. What do I look for in a skate if I don't know what position I'm playing?
A - If you are a forward you may want to find a lighter skate that will allow you the flexibility of quick turns. If you are a defenseman you may want to buy skates that are well padded, especially around the ankles as you may be blocking shots. You can also add on a pair of attachable hockey ankle pads if you like. Some forwards who spend a lot of time standing in front of the opposition net may want to consider these.

14. How long should a pair of skates last on average?
A - This all depends on your age, how often you use the skates, how you treat them and how your opponents treat you. If your skates are taking a lot of abuse from sticks and pucks they may not last as long in the blade area, but the blades and holders can be replaced. They will also need to be replaced if you sharpen them a lot as the blades will eventually wear down. Sometimes the eyelets where your laces go through will come off or may even tear away. You can also have these fixed. Also if you are young and still growing your skates will not last as long as they soon won't fit you. For a full grown person who plays an average of two times a week, the skates should last at least five years.

15. How do I know when I should get a new pair of skates?
A - When your skates no longer protect you or give your feet and ankles the support they need they should be replaced. Also replace them if they start to become uncomfortable and hurt your feet.

16. What's the difference between women's hockey skates, goalie skates and regular hockey skates?
A - Women's hockey skates are made specifically for the shape of women's feet, which are a little different than men's. They also come in women's sizes only and can be made to fit a very narrow foot. Goalie skates have a lower boot and wider blades. They are stronger and have more padding to stop the puck. They also come with an outer boot protector.

17. Do I need different skates if my ankles point in or out?
A - You need to make sure your skates fit comfortably no matter which way your ankles point. You may want to get a pair that can be heat treated, meaning you can heat them and when you put your feet into them they will mold to the shape of your feet.

18. Is it ok to walk on flooring, or will it ruin my hockey skate blades?
A - It is not recommended to walk on any concrete flooring or wood etc. because it may damage or take the edge off of your skate blade. The only flooring you should walk on is a padded or rubberized surface. If you need to cross any flooring that isn't padded you should wear a pair of skate guards.

19. How do I clean my skates and how often?
Ar - You can clean the blades of your skates by wiping them with a towel to keep them dry after using them. Make sure you do this after each wearing. With the material skates are made of, there's not a lot of maintenance and cleaning needed to the boot.

20. What do I do when my skates start to smell?
A - If your skates start to smell funny you can insert scented insoles or use a spray to keep them fresher. Many consider these to be essential hockey accessories!

21. Can I cut myself on the hockey skate blades?
A - Your skate blades are very sharp and therefore very dangerous. You can cut yourself very badly with them. Be extremely careful in the handling of your skates both on and off the ice. Former NHL great Borje Salming once needed almost 300 stitches to his face after being stepped on by a skate and former goalie Clint Malarchuk had his jugular vein cut by a skate. There have also been instances of players' fingers being cut off when being skated over. Respect your fellow players when playing hockey and always be aware of your skates' position.

22. Will my hockey skates get wrecked if I skate on an uneven surface like a pond?
A - Your skates should not be damaged by skating on ponds and canals etc.

23. Are there really differences between expensive and cheaper skate brands or are you just paying for the name?
A - You are mostly paying for the amount of protection and materials going into your skates. Some skates are built a lot stronger than others. Make sure your skates meet all of your needs.

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