Having a pair of hockey skates that fit you properly is essential. It can be the difference of having control over your movements and being a mess on the ice.
You also run the risk of injury if you do not have the right fit. Here’s what you should know.
What Is A Proper Fit?
To begin with, let’s look at what it means to have a properly fitted hockey skate.
While you are wearing the skates, your shoes should lightly touch the end of the toe box, ensuring that your feet will not be able to slide around within the boot.
The forefoot of the skate should be wrapped around the foot as well. It should be snug, but definitely not tight. If it feels like your skate is squeezing your forefoot, you need to go to a wider hockey skate.
Your heel also needs to fit snugly and not be able to slide around within the boot.
You will know if a skate is not fitting you well if your foot is able to slide around within the boot.
This will cause blisters and deny you the level of support that you really need to be secure on your skates. You can also have skates that are too tight. You should not be uncomfortable with them on.
Measuring Your Foot
Getting the right fit for your skates is not straightforward. You cannot simply use the street size that you use for your everyday shoes.
You also cannot walk into a hockey store and just ask for a pair of beginner hockey skates. You need to be measured first.
Typically, hockey skates are one to two sizes lower than your street shoe size, but there is a lot of variance between brands.
Skates must be fitted based on the size, width, and arch of your foot. Then you should take in account your ability level and needs.
You will need to measure every part of your foot in order to compare it to the hockey brand’s size chart. Ideally you will need to have someone help you do this.
You can measure your foot easiest by standing on a sheet of paper and having someone trace around your foot.
Checking The Fit
Once you have determined the size of your skate, you will need to confirm that the size that you chose was right. You do this by checking the fit of the skate.
There are two common ways to check the fit of your skate. They are known as the pencil test and the finger test.
To do the pencil test, you will need to have your skates on your feet, but not have them laced up. Instead, pull the tongue out and drape it toward the toe of your skate.
Then, take a pen or a pencil and set it across the eyelets. You should aim for about three eyelets down.
You will know that the fit is good if you can set the pen or pencil flat across the skate and it doesn’t rock back or forth. If it is rocking, the skate might be too shallow for the height of your feet.
The goal is to have a pen or pencil that can balance there while touching the eyelets and not have it touching the top of your foot at the same time.
The finger test is another good way to look at the fit of your skates. You will need to do this with the skates on and laced up as if you are headed out on the ice.
Then, lean forward and bend your knees, which is the hockey stance.
Once in position, you will need to reach around to the heel of your skate and see about how much gap is between your heel and the skate.
When we say heel, we mean further down in the boot to the heel, not higher up on the tendon. If you can fit more than one finger down the back of your ankle, then the fit is not right for you.
You need to have the heel locked into place without the wiggle room to ensure that the skate has a good fit. Remember that a snugger fit is better than a lose fit. A lose fit will cause blisters and discomfort.
Another thing to check when it comes to the fit of your hockey skates is to look at the skate stiffness.
Stiff boots are recommended if you have been on the ice for a number of years and need to have a lot of power from your movements.
Less experienced skaters can use softer boots as they are learning the movement on the ice and gaining more control. When a skate is tight for a beginner, they compromise the mobility and your balance.
That said, some hockey skates are meant to come stiff in order for you to bake them into being a better fit.
Not all skates are thermomoldable, but when they are, you can heat the skates in the oven and then put them on your feet while they are still warm.
They will then mold around your feet, ankles, and lower legs while you have them laced up. Then the skates will cool, giving you a perfect fit.
Stores can often bake the skates for you if you are nervous about attempting it at home.
If you have never seen or have any experience baking, it might be a good idea to have a professional do it for you the first time. It would be a shame to wreck a new pair of skates that way.
Breaking Skates In
If you checked the fit and then wore your skates out on the ice, only to find out that you have sore feet the next day, you might ask yourself whether there was an issue with the fit.
Do not think the worst, however. It is totally normal to have sore feet after wearing your new hockey skates out on the ice.
Just like we need to break-in our shoes before they fit better, hockey skates will need to be broken into before they can be really comfortable.
You might get a small blister or redness, but it should not be anything major and it should really be temporary.
If you are still experiencing pain and blisters after you have worn the skates repeatedly, then there is a real problem.
It could be that your skates have a poor fit after all. It is of course also possible that you need a different insole or adjusted. A pro shop should be able to help you get a better fit.
It is difficult if you don’t live near a pro shop and need to order the skates online. If this is the case, look closely at the return policy for the skates and follow the size chart before you put in the order.
Ultimately, you need to make sure that your hockey skates fit well in order for you to have a successful time out on the ice.
Poorly fitting skates will damage your hockey abilities and can cause injury. Do your research and confirm the fit before you commit to a pair of hockey skates.