You can’t underestimate the importance of skates. Your feet need to be one with the ice. You need speed, control and protection. Skates are the foundation that all other skills are built on… so don’t put your son or daughter behind the 8-ball, by messing this up.
I’ve put together a helpful guide for you. Don’t get fooled by flashy designs, it’s important to interpret the features and benefits, and narrow down the right pair for your kids game.
WHAT’S THEIR GAME?
Crosby, Hanson Brothers or shinny? It’s essential to know what type of player your son or daughter is in order to determine the skates they need.
If hockey is a big part of your life… Look for a stiff boot to give your player ultimate power transfer. Go with carbon-reinforced outsoles and heat-moulded or memory foam.
Boot: Comfort from custom fitting, protection from reinforced toe caps, and tough nylon for durability can improve your performance. For most players, the boot is the most important part of the skate. On top of fit, you need protection, comfort, durability and support.
Get the right protection
The only thing standing between your foot and a puck travelling 80 km/h is your skate. Look for features that offer protection. Tendon guards protect vulnerable areas of your ankles while reinforced toe caps prevent injury to your toes and forefoot.
Keep your feet dry
The big technology story in skate liners is moisture management. If your skate soaks up your sweat, it becomes heavy. Your feet will also stay wet leaving you prone to blisters and chafing. A liner steel bite pro engineered with moisture management properties will wick sweat away from your foot, transporting it to the outer surface of the liner. From there, the moisture evaporates leaving you dry in a lightweight skate.
Take the bite out of your laces
Lace bite is when the laces pinch your skin between the tongue and boot. To prevent it, look for a skate that has a non-slip tongue.
Durability for longer play
Top manufacturers engineer skates to withstand cuts, abrasions and the force of a slapshot. Look for tough materials like carbon reinforcements and Ballistic nylon.
Hockey skates are built to give you the ultimate in support. Memory foam inserts, reinforced nylon quarters and heel locks help to keep your feet stable and your ankles supported. Look for those features. This prevents loss of power.
Pro tip: Hardcore players should go with a stiff boot while active players should look for a moderately stiff boot. Recreational players should opt for pure comfort. Also, consider your weight. Heavier players generally benefit from a stiffer boot.
Outsole: To accelerate, turn and stop, you need a responsive but rigid platform. I’ll explain which materials to consider in a second. Think of the outsole as the platform the boot sits on. It contributes to the lightweight properties and responsiveness of the skate. It also acts as the blade-to-boot interface, giving you torsional rigidity and maximum energy transfer.
Some high end skates have a carbon or graphite reinforced outsole. It gives the skate its lightweight properties and maximum energy transfer that hardcore players thrive on. Other skates have outsoles with partial carbon or plastic reinforced outsoles.
Holder: The holder transfers energy from the boot to the runner to give you maximum power. Much like the outsole, the holder gives you the benefit of torsional stiffness and maximum energy transfer. It transfers energy in three ways:
By focusing the energy generated by the boot and the outsole directly to the runner.
By remaining torsionally rigid; therefore, storing and transferring the energy that the player has generated with his or her stride.
By being lightweight, reducing fatigue on the player.
Pro tip: Hardcore and active players should look for lightweight, stiff holders for improved energy transfer. Recreational players should look for a plastic holder for value.
Runner: Also known as the blade, look for stainless steel (higher end) for durability or carbon (lower end) for value. Also known as the blade, the runner gives you the benefit of side to side stability with sharp edges, friction reduction, agility and durability.
You have two materials to choose from. Stainless steel will last longer and is more durable. Carbon steel is less durable than stainless but it’s ideal for the value conscious player.
Most skates come with stainless steel runners.
Pro tip: While recreational players could benefit from the value of a carbon runner, hardcore and active players need the durability of stainless steel.
A Quick Heads Up…
Most of my high-end clients have two pairs of skates. If you play more than three or four times a week, you should consider it during the season. You can rotate one pair every four to six months. This ensures you’ll always have one dry pair, broken in and ready to wear.