Kinds of Skates Needed for Beginning Ice Hockey
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 type skates offering 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 the 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.