Laura is the mother of two active sports kids, a youth basketball coach, and a hockey mom.
Youth Ice Hockey Skates
Ice skates are one of the most important pieces of hockey equipment for a beginning player. Along with the helmet, it is also one of the first pieces of equipment they will need to begin skating lessons. Once you have made the commitment to begin lessons or “rink rat” sessions, rental skates are no longer a good option. It is important to have a good pair of hockey skates that provide support new skaters need, as well as good blades that allow the kids to find their edges.
Hockey skates have special padding for protection and they feature special construction for quick stops and starts. Figure, rental, recreational and speed skates are all different types of skates that offer customization for their specific use.
The Best Hockey Skates for the Beginning Player
There are many manufacturers of hockey skates such as Bauer, Reebok, Easton, CCM, Graf, and Mission. The most popular and highly stocked brands for beginning hockey players are Reebok, Bauer, and CCM. Graf is an excellent skate, but depending upon where you live, it may be hard to find in the youth size. Mission is regarded as a roller hockey skate manufacturer and not well thought of for ice players. There are some adjustable ice hockey skates on the market that may be suitable for “rink rat” or toddler sessions, but once a player is out of that stage, it is better to purchase skates with more protection.
Some online sites such as Hockey Monkey list youth ice hockey skates from a $39.99 Easton pair on clearance, to the Reebok 11K Pump Youth for $229.00. Like anything else, you do get what you pay for. However, the beginning player needs a good, solid skate, but they don’t have the appreciation for specialty skate construction and elaborate bells and whistles. Regardless of the price or brand, the best ice hockey skate for your beginning player is the one that offers the most protection and has the best fit for your child’s feet.
How to Size Ice Hockey Skates for Beginning Players
If you are buying skates for the first time, it is best to let a professional, trained salesperson assist you. Each manufacturer is sized differently and obtaining a proper fit is imperative.
Hockey skates come in youth (13.5Y–6Y), junior (1.0–5.5) and senior (6+) sizes. Generally, hockey skates fit about a size smaller than shoes. Do not make the mistake of buying them too big. When trying on skates, your player should wear hockey socks, or very thin socks. The heel should fit in the back of the skates without too much wiggle room. The widest part of the foot should feel snug without pinching. The front toe should have just a smidge of room (quarter inch) between the front of the skate. Next, lace the skates up and have the player stand up. Tap the heel to the back of the skate, and stand normal putting equal weight on both feet. If the toes hit the front, they are too small and you need to go up a size. The skate should feel snug, but comfortable.
Advanced skates will have a stiffer boot, but these are for skilled players with adult weight. Most youth players need flexible or moderately stiff boots. Wearing skates that do not fit properly or that apply excessive pressure on the heel bone is the main cause of Haglund’s Deformity or the Bauer Bump, a common issue with hockey players. If you are purchasing at a pro shop, the skates can be baked to fit your child’s foot like a glove.
Should You Buy New or Used Ice Hockey Skates?
The decision of whether to buy new or used ice hockey skates has a lot to do with your wallet. New hockey skates are expensive. Kids’ feet grow quickly. The beginning skater needs a good skate for support, but not necessarily a brand new skate. Stores selling used gear like Play It Again Sports have a multitude of skates to choose from. If you can find a skate in good condition, with a proper fit, then there is no reason not to buy used. Keep in mind, the sales personnel at the pro shops will have a greater ability to help accurately size your child’s skate, but if you feel confident in being able to fit your child, then try the used stores first to save some cash.
One other factor in buying a used skate is to carefully evaluate the condition of the used skate. Be sure to inspect both the blade and the boot of the skate. If the boot is worn out, it will not provide enough support for the skater. With regard to the blade, make sure there is plenty of blade left for the skate to be sharpened multiple times throughout the season.
Get the Hockey Bug
Congratulations! Purchasing ice hockey skates for the beginning skater is the first step to what is likely a long-lived obsession with ice hockey! Don’t worry, the early mornings, expensive equipment, freezing temperatures and long seasons, will all be worth it to see that sparkle in the eye and smile on your child's face. Once a child starts playing hockey they get hooked quickly. So go ahead and buy those skates. No doubt it will be a worthwhile investment.
Additional Information for New Hockey Parents
- Ice Hockey Equipment for Kids
- How to Get Rid of Hockey Equipment Smell
- Haglund's Deformity: Otherwise Known as the Bauer Bump
- A Hockey Mom's Guide to the Stanley Cup Championship
- How to Size an Ice Hockey Stick
© 2012 LauraGSpeaks
LauraGSpeaks (author) from Raleigh, NC on March 04, 2017:
Coach_Pickles, you are correct--not as much youth hockey down south, but you can still find it! We drove many times from Raleigh to play youth Atlanta Fire teams for my son. You have to drive more, but the rinks are there. The downside is competitive hockey kids in the South who want to play beyond middle school years, have to go up north to a boarding school for hockey. Best of luck to you in Atlanta!
Dr Brad Kayden from Atlanta, GA / Chicago, IL on March 02, 2017:
Evergreen article Laura, nice job. Moved from Chicago to Atlanta more recently. I imagine it has reduced the chances any of our littles will play hockey. But should we find the opportunity, your article will be a good resource for us. Thank you!
LauraGSpeaks (author) from Raleigh, NC on July 17, 2012:
Hockey nut- your point of recommending a forward pitch in the skates makes perfect sense. Since the forward pitch helps the beginning skater learn proper form more quickly, it would also help them skate stronger and faster sooner as a result. Thanks again for sharing.
Hockey nut from VT on June 07, 2012:
Hi Laura - Thank you for your consideration of my input. You have a great blog and it's really a gem of clarity and thoughtful analysis among all of the *noise* parents and players will encounter as they research purchases. One final point on newbie skates is "stance". I'm in the camp of recommending a more forward pitch (of their skates) to newer skaters to help them more quickly adopt proper skating form and strides. A skater can change pitch to match their position, preference and skate style later, but I almost always recommend a forward pitch for beginners. Interestingly enough, the forward pitch is something that Graf has maintained, as well as the Easton Stealth (and upcoming RS) skates. Most others have adopted more "neutral" stances to serve a broader market.
LauraGSpeaks (author) from Raleigh, NC on June 06, 2012:
Hi hockeynut, excellent comments regarding the importance of obtaining the proper fit in hockey skates. I agree, it is best to let a trained salesperson assist you. Over the years I have seen many new skaters shopping for skates not really knowing what to look for. Thank you for clarifying Grafs do come in youth sizes. I did further research and made the change above. Grafs are great skates. My son now wears them, but we never found them as an option when he was small.
hockey nut from VT on June 06, 2012:
Hi Laura - I'm not in the hockey business other than as a player and parent, but I would clarify a couple of your points. Graf does indeed make youth skates. The Supra 370's were my boys' first skates (both started at 4 y/o). As well, I would strongly discourage parents from buying shoes via their own sizing and without a trained salesperson at a good pro shop. As your "bauer bump" article illustrates. Every hockey skate manufacturer has a different foot, body-type, skate-style and positional emphasis in mind for each skate. Size is important but only equal to "FIT", which takes on a whole new dimension in hockey skates. The LHS is the only choice for choosing the right skate. You can buy helmets and everything else online or at a sporting goods superstore... except for skates. They're too important and individually-appropriate.
LauraGSpeaks (author) from Raleigh, NC on May 13, 2012:
Chrissie, I completely agree.. As a player progresses, better equipment is always an advantage. At any stage, having equipment that properly fits in imperative. Uninvited, you made me laugh. Yes, you are an anomaly in Canada. Good Lady, thanks for commenting. Raggededge, hockey is great in any country. Go Cardiff Devils!
Bev G from Wales, UK on May 13, 2012:
Comprehensive information. Thanks! Ice-hockey is not huge in the UK, but we have one of the best teams in Britain - The Cardiff Devils!
Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on May 11, 2012:
Really great resource for young skaters and their parents.
Very useful! Such a lot of fun.
Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on May 11, 2012:
I'm a bit on an anomaly, I am Canadian yet I hate hockey :)
chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on May 11, 2012:
My children definitely love watching hockey but we don't live near a rink, so no hockey stars in our family. I enjoyed your article and like many sports, sometimes used is fine but, as they get older and more into the sport, new and expensive really is the way to go.
LauraGSpeaks (author) from Raleigh, NC on May 11, 2012:
Thank you for your comment twintimes. Univited, thanks for being objective even though hockey isn't your favorite sport! Judi Bee, hockey is really rough as kids get older. No way would I want my daughter to play. Field hockey is a great sport, but it is unheard of where we live.
Judi Brown from UK on May 11, 2012:
No ice hockey for my daughter (field hockey is her thing) but this is very informative for anyone entering the sport.
Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on May 11, 2012:
Very useful to some. I don't like hockey :) But this is a very well written hub.
Karen Lackey from Ohio on May 11, 2012:
Another great hockey resource, Laura. Well written and informative!