Ask the Expert
Buying and Fitting Skates FAQ's
- Why is it important that skates fit properly?
- How do I know if I have the correct fit?
- Is buying used skates okay?
- How should I lace my skates to ensure a proper fit?
- Can I purchase skates without trying them on?
- What is heat molding?
- What is "bumping" or "punching"?
A boot that fits properly is essential to skating enjoyment and success. Make sure you buy thick, leather boots with generous ankle support. You should never buy boots that are too big in the hopes that a thick sock will make them fit better. Bulky or thick socks can limit the support provided by your skates and create "bumps" inside your boots which make them uncomfortable. Too much room in the skate can also cause the foot to slide and hamper the skater's progress. This may also cause blisters from the boot rubbing on the foot and heel. If your skates are too big, lacing them tightly will not improve the fit. The boots will break down faster if you need to tighten the laces to ensure a snug fit, causing decreased ankle support which may lead to injury.
A correctly fitted boot should feel snug in the heel. There should be little or no movement when you try to lift your heel. Your toes should be able to wiggle freely but not slide from side to side. In young children whose feet experience frequent growth spurts it is suggested that when fitting skates that the child first inserts the foot snuggly into the heel "cup", then stands and bends the knee so that the foot slides forward. No more than 5mm minimum to 10mm maximum width is recommended which allows for growth up to one year. In children and adults whose feet have stopped growing, no more than half a finger width is recommended or else the boot is too long.
Good used skates are okay for your child, especially in the beginning stages. It is better to have a good quality used boot than an inexpensive lower quality boot. When purchasing a used boot be sure the boot has adequate support and that the blades still has some sharpening left in them.
Correct lacing of skates is important to the overall enjoyment of the sport. Once the foot is inserted into the boot with the heel snug in the heel "cup" begin lacing the skate from the toe to the ankle. Do not pull the laces too tight in this area. Next is the most important part. Tighten the laces the most where the foot and the ankle bend. Give a good tug and pull hard. Next lace around the hooks. You should not pull too hard in this area in order to leave some room for the ankle to bend. Finish with a secure bow and tuck the loops inside the top of the boot to prevent the blade from catching the lace and to keep the top hooks from coming undone. If your skates don't feel secure after lacing then the laces are too loose. If you cannot bend your knees after lacing them then the laces are too tight. Never wrap the laces around the ankle as this creates a pressure point on the boot that will cause a crease to form there. This may cause the tendon guards to break and shorten the life of your upper boots. If your laces are too long wrap them back down the hooks or purchase a shorter pair.
It is possible to fit skates without trying them on by carefully tracing and measuring the skater's feet. This is especially helpful for those who wish to order online, by telephone or by fax. While seated in a relaxed position and holding a pencil in an upright vertical position, trace carefully around both feet. Then without moving the foot, the skater should stand up, apply full pressure, and trace the foot again. Measure each foot in inches or centimetres as follows: the width of the tracing at the widest part of the foot; the total length of the foot from the heel to the big toe; the circumference around the ball of the foot using a string or measuring tape. Also include the skater's age, height, weight, Test Level, and previous skate brand and size.
Skates with leather soles are heat moldable to provide a better fit. The skates are heated in a convection oven for several minutes by a professional skating technician, then brought back out and quickly put on the feet. The skates are then left on the feet for about 15 minutes so that they mold directly to the skater's feet.
Skates that fit but still feel uncomfortable can be "bumped" or "punched" out in troublesome spots by having a professional skating technician stretch the leather slightly in that area.
Care of Skating Boots FAQ's
- Should I waterproof my boots?
Some skates with leather soles come pre-sealed from the factory. It is advisable to waterproof or "seal" the soles that are not pre-sealed as leather that is wet and cannot dry out will start to rot and then will not hold the blade's screws. Sno-Seal or another beeswax preparation should be applied to the sole before the blade is mounted. It is applied and then melted in with a hair dryer. The application of Sno-Seal should be repeated periodically, approximately every 6 - 8 weeks, to help waterproof, nourish and protect the heels and soles of your boots.