Each player has their own preference for hockey skates. Each person is unique in how they treat their skates, from how they're constructed to fit them to the maintenance and care required to maintain them. This complete guide will explain all you need to know about the skates you wear.
Laces are either waxed or not. Briefly put, waxed laces are preferred by skaters who like their skates to fit tight or who want their skates to fit more tightly in certain areas of their boot. Laces that are not waxed are preferred by those who prefer a looser fitting boot across the entire. Make sure you read our article fully explaining the distinctions between different types of lace here.
Skate laces can be measured quickly since they come with a size chart at the back. If you don't have a chart you can get the general lace sizing guide here.
Youth 8.0 - Junior 1.5 skates need 72" laces
Junior 2.0 - 3.5 skates need 84" laces
Junior 4.0 - 5.5 skates need 96" laces
Senior 6.0 - 8.5 skates need 108" laces
Senior 9.0 - 12.0 skates need 120" laces
Now that you have the right laces, it's time to attach them to your skates. What's the distinction between "in-to" and "out-to", and what are they referring to?
Lacing "in-to-out" (pictured left) is the normal way that skates and shoes are lacing. This lacing method will give athletes a more snug fit, but also the risk of losing comfort. The tongue will experience greater pressure from the lacing.
Lacing "out-to-in" (pictured right) is where the lace is pulled over the eyelet before being returned to its original position. This technique will offer greater comfort and decrease the possibility of lace bite because the tension is applied laterally, not downwards. Thus, there is no pressure directly applied to the tongue or the top of the foot.
Lace Bite & Blister Treatment
Even with properly-fitted skates, players can still experience blisters and lace bites, especially during the process of breaking in. Lace bite can occur when the skates are not fitting properly and can cause "hot spots," small blisters, or cysts that appear on the upper part of the foot. The bite of lacing can be prevented by either changing how the skates are laced, or by inserting gel on the affected areas.
Elite Hockey makes three different gel pads to provide foot pain relief - lace bite gel pads, Achilles gel pads, and ankle gel pads.
The lace bite gel pads are placed in the tongue to distribute pressure and lessen the pinching sensation caused by skate laces.
The Achilles Heel gel pads are situated at the foot's heel within the boot. These gel pads fill in the space between the heel and the skate and relieve the rubbing that occurs during skate break-in.
Like the Achilles Heel gel pads, the Elite ankle gel pads also give extra comfort during the process of breaking in. They help prevent blisters and other discomfort by filling any space that's not needed should the skates get too big.
Players experiencing discomfort in multiple areas can use the combination of these gel pads for personalized relief. However, this may mean that the player's skates aren't properly sized.
Making sure your skates are sharpened correctly is extremely important. There are several different hollows you can pick from and each will affect the way you skate. It is important to consider your playing way and conditions on the ice of their rink before choosing the hollow they prefer. The table below provides a list of hollows shops can sharpen skates. The most popular choices are suggested.
A hollow that is more sharp (right-side of 1/2" on the chart) allows players to achieve greater speed and stopping power however slower gliding speed. The skates will be more tightly set into the ice. A hollow that is sharper is recommended for smaller players or for players who skate in cold rinks, as it helps them dig more into the harder the ice.
A hollow that is duller (left right side of 1/2" on the chart) will provide players with improved speed of gliding, but it will be at the expense of acceleration and stopping ability, as their skates won't dig into the ice as deep. A hollow that is less pronounced in the skate is recommended for players with larger bodies or those who skate at warmer rinks to prevent the skates from "sinking" into the soft frozen ice.
1/2" is the most suitable hollow to use for "all-around" because it is neither too sharp or dull. Repair shops consider the 1/2" hollow to be the standard for repair shops. If you're not sure which hollow you require Ask your sharpener. While the 1/2" could be regarded as to be a "jack of all trades," it is also the "master of none." To have a better customized feeling on the ice players could consider shifting up or down one hollow from 1/2" (e.g. 9/16" or 7/16")
After each practice and game after every practice, skaters should clean down their holders and steel until dry prior to putting their skates in their bags. The steel will not crack or rust when the water is taken away.
Then, skaters must take their skates out from their bags once they are home from the rink. Airing out the skates will allow them to dry quicker and also prevent odors and rust from forming. For those who wish to go beyond should also remove their footbeds at the end of each session to prevent moisture from becoming stuck inside the skates.
Some players prefer to wear socks with their skates while some prefer to go barefoot it's all personal preference. Socks-wearers are generally more comfortable in their skates but barefoot players tend to have a slight edge in terms of agility. While skill is always better than equipment, skaters can still feel their edges when there is no space between their feet and their skate.