Ice hockey is one of the most popular sports in North America. Ice hockey players need to be fit and active to maintain high energy levels throughout the game.
To achieve this high level of performance, a player needs the right set of equipment. Ice hockey is an intensely physical game and requires appropriate equipment to ensure player safety while on the ice.
If you’re a beginner, buying your first set of hockey skates can be challenging. This guide gives you the top 5 factors to consider when buying ice hockey skates.
1. Consider the primary use for your skates
It’s important to consider how you intend to use your skates before purchasing your first pair. Do you intend to be a part-time or full-time hockey player?
If you intend to play the game for long hours, you want to go for a pair that meets your best gaming needs. Below are some of the ways how your game plan can influence your choice of skating boots.
Professional ice hockey skaters need to jump, glide, spin and turn effectively on the ice. Flexibility is an essential factor when selecting figure skates. The gear needs to hug your foot and ankles properly to improve the player’s agility on the ice. A stiff pair of skates will offer you more control on the ice.
More importantly, the blades of figure skates need to be extra sharp to enable quick turning by the player. Toe picks are another common feature of ice skates. The toe picks will allow the skater to spin, jump and glide without losing control.
Ice hockey skates should fit more loosely on the ankles and feet than figure skates. They also tend to be light and streamlined to minimize interference during gameplay. Unlike figure skates, ice hockey skates do not feature toe picks. Instead, their curved blades tend to be narrower to maximize speed and agility while on the ice.
2. Foot size
Skate fitting varies from player to player. When buying ice skates for children, you need to remember that their feet will grow bigger later in life. If you are buying hockey skates for your kid, consider choosing skate shoes that are one size larger than their recommended shoe size to allow room for foot growth.
Ice hockey skates are usually a long-term investment requiring adequate planning before paying hard-earned money for a new pair.
To ensure you get proper fitting skates, avoid purchasing your ice hockey gear online unless you are confident about their size. The best practice is to visit your local dealership and try them out first before buying. The skates should hug your feet snugly without causing discomfort.
Your boots’ lacing system will determine the degree of snug it delivers; if your foot moves while inside the boot, it is likely that you won’t have the control and accuracy your desire during gameplay.
Pricing dictates the quality of ice hockey skates. If it’s your first pair, it’s advisable to go for inexpensive options. These equipment prices usually range between 150 for entry-level boots to over 1000 dollars for elite-level skates. There is often a high correlation between price and the hardness of the skating boots.
However, hard boots are not ideal for players who weigh less than 82 kilograms due to the low likelihood of breaking the equipment. Timing is also a significant factor that influences the pricing of ice hockey skates.
You can enjoy discounted prices when you purchase gear during the offseason. It’s advisable to thoroughly research your skate shoe options to avoid falling victim to marketing tricks from salespeople.
4. Level of protection
Ice hockey is an exciting game, but despite the thrill and adrenaline rush, players need to protect themselves by choosing the right gear. The ice boots you choose should provide adequate protection to your ankles, toecaps, and side foot. Ice hockey skates are made from different equipment and have varying finishes.
It would help if you chose boots with additional padding and preferably composite inserts to help absorb hits during gameplay for your toecaps. High-end skating boots will also offer complete composite material packages for the side of the boot to reduce the risk of injury during aggressive gameplay.
Generally, your level of game involvement and speed of shots will determine the level of protection you require from your skating boots.
5. Ease of maintenance
Maintenance is another crucial factor when purchasing ice skates. If you use your ice skate regularly, it’s normal for the blades to get blunt over time. Ice skates need sharpening, preferably after every playing session, to ensure they are in prime condition. Blade sharpening can be expensive, especially when offered as an after-service.
A good ice hockey dealership should offer their vendors free or discounted sharpening services and heat stretching. When purchasing your skating boots, it is advisable to inquire from your local vendor whether the maintenance costs are part of the purchase price and how much they charge for hockey skate steel maintenance.
Hockey skates are an essential piece of equipment for any hockey player. However, similar to other sporting equipment, it is necessary to consider how you’ll use your skates. Ill-fitting skates will most definitely affect your stability and agility throughout the game. Not to mention, choosing the wrong set of skates can put you at risk of injury from tripping and hits from other players.