Skates are one of the most critical pieces of kit that a hockey player (or ice skater) needs, and how they fit will affect your performance and enjoyment on the ice.
Skate fitting is not an exact science; wherever possible, we recommend coming into our store for a professional fitting. However, there are some basics you can keep in mind when deciding on the best skates for you.
What Kind Of Ice Skates Should You Get?
The first thing to consider is how you plan to use your skates. Are you looking to skate recreationally and have fun with friends, or are you looking to play hockey for a team?
For recreational skaters, the key to a perfect fit is comfort and safety while keeping the foot stable in the boot. We recommend a value skate such as the Bauer X-LS or X-LP as these skates provide a roomy, comfortable fit. The CCM Super Tacks 9350 are more suitable if you prefer a narrower fit.
For hockey players, we recommend finding a more 'fitted' skate based on foot width or volume as well as length. The Bauer Vapor range is typically a narrower, lightweight skate, which is great for fast-moving players. The Bauer Supreme range is traditionally more suited to a wider foot and best compliments a powerful skating style. In CCM skates, the Tacks range is comparable to the Bauer Supreme range, and the Jetspeed range is comparable to the Bauer Vapor range. CCM also have a Ribcor range which is a more traditional style, with wide fitting and more flexible boot option.
All ranges have multiple boot options suitable for beginners right through to budding amateurs and pros.
Willies is an approved Bauer Fit Centre and has a 3D scanner to help you find your perfect fit. Our expert team are super knowledgeable on the full range of skates on offer and will be sure to get you fitted correctly.
What Size Ice Skate Do I Need?
As a rule of thumb, adult skaters typically wear one size down from their usual shoe size to ensure a comfortable fit.
Kids can use the same rule (depending on the level of play), but typically we would fit them in skates the same as their shoe size, giving them a little growing room so their skates should last longer than just one season!
It should be noted this is a guideline only, and experience has taught us players can perform well and be comfortable wearing skates anywhere from their actual shoe size to a size and a half down.
Skates bigger than your shoe size are probably ill-fitted and will likely not give the support or fit to master the correct techniques and progress with your skating.
How Tight Should Hockey Skates Be?
Your skates should feel snug, but they shouldn’t be uncomfortably tight; good contact between the boot and your foot is crucial to your performance on the ice. In a sitting position, your foot should be completely flat on the footbed (with no pressure squeezing your foot), and your toes should lightly brush the front of the skate. In a standing position, you should feel snug around the ankles (without pain or excess pressure), your foot flat and comfortable on the footbed with free movement in your toes.
How Are Hockey Skates Supposed To Fit?
When you first put your foot in the skate, your toes should just about touch the toe cap. This can initially feel like your skate is too small, but when you stand up, your heel will move back into the heel pocket and leave you with a perfect fit.
If your skates are too big, your foot will move around more than it should, which means you can’t skate as fast and will eventually end up with blisters. On the other hand, if your skates are too small, your feet will cramp and be very uncomfortable.
The five key areas to check with your skate fit are:
- Evaluate pain: There shouldn’t be pain anywhere in your foot. Pressure is normal in elite-level boots due to the stiffness of the skate.
- Bend your knees: When your knees are bent, your skates should feel secure but not dig in around the laces.
- Walk around: Your heel should not lift out of position when you’re walking around.
- Tilt your ankles: When you wobble or tilt in your skates, the boot should maintain support around your ankle.
- Check your arch: There shouldn’t be any aching in your foot. If you have severe pain while wearing your skates, this could be related to arch support — get in touch with us for expert advice and recommendations on how to solve this.
Should You Bake Your Hockey Skates?
Also known as heat moulding, baking your hockey skates drastically improves the comfort of the boot allowing the padding to mould around any lumps and bumps on your feet. Baking skates also speeds up the breaking-in process (the process of wearing-in new skates), which typically takes between 5-10 hours of skating.
We recommend baking to any skaters who want to get the most out of their skates. Due to the materials used in lower model skates, we cannot bake these. Higher-level skates use thermoformable foams, which allow us to complete this process.
Baking is free of charge on any skates bought from us (if the model is suitable for baking). We also offer skate baking for customers' skates for a small charge. Visit our Skate Sharpening & Repairs page for further details.
The key to the perfect fit is comfort and stability, helping to keep you safe and performing at your best on the ice.