How to Fit Hockey Skates: A Complete Guide

The right hockey skate is pivotal to comfort and performance on the ice, but finding the right fit can be a little more complicated that just simply purchasing a pair of the best ice hockey skates that appear to be the correct size. In order to ensure that you get the best fitting skates for your feet, it’s important to take several factors into consideration.

In this post we’ll walk you through all the things you need to consider when choosing a pair of hockey skates to get the best fit possible.

Ice Hockey Skate Sizing

The first thing that you should understand is that hockey skates sizes are not the same as shoe sizes. If you pick out a hockey skate based on your shoe size, you’ll find that the skate will be too large for your foot.

In general, hockey skates run one full size to a size and a half smaller than shoes, so you’ll want to take that into consideration. With this in mind, it’s important to try on some different sizes of skates before you purchase unless you’re choosing a brand and model that you’ve worn before and know it’ll be the right fit.

Finding the Right Hockey Skate Fit

Just like shoes, hockey skates come in different fits. Even if you’ve found the right size, there are other aspects of the hockey skate boot that will affect how they conform to your feet while skating. Factors to consider include:

  • Width
  • Instep
  • Heel Fit
  • Mid-Foot
  • Toe Box

The width of a skate works similar to the width of a shoe. If you wear wide shoe, chances are you’ll require a hockey skate for wide feet. The other factors will vary from skate to skate with different models offering different combinations. While you can begin to assess how you’d like each of these parts of the skate to fit based on your shoe preference, you’ll want to try different brands of skates to ensure you have a snug fit.

Insteps can range from shallow to deep, heel fits range from narrow to standard, mid-foot fits are available from very narrow to wide and toe-boxes range from slightly narrow to very wide.

Considering these factors, you may wish to consult with skate manufacturers’ websites to check which make and model would be appropriate for your foot. If you are unsure, head to your local hockey pro-shop or equipment retailer and try on a few skates.

How to Test if Skates Fit Properly

Once you’ve figured out what skate size is appropriate for your feet and found a model that should conform to your foot, you should take the time to perform two tests to make absolutely sure that you’re getting the right fit. Remember, when trying on skates, you should always wear the same socks that you’d wear while skating to make sure that you’re assessing fit using the same conditions as when you take the ice.

Before we get to testing methods, it may be worth mentioning that the proper skate fit may be different for fully-grown adults and youth skaters. For adult skaters, a perfect fit should be molded snugly to the foot without excess room.

A younger ice hockey player will inevitably grow throughout the season, so it’s important to take that into consideration. However, leaving too much room will lead to feet moving inside the skate boot during practice and games. A boot that is too large can cause rubbing which leads to blisters, feet sliding front to back reduces control and the heel popping out of place causes all sorts of stability and skating problems. While you’ll want some room in youth skates, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t leave excessive room that can lead to lack of control and possible blisters or injury.

Let’s take a look at two tests you can perform to ensure you’ve gotten the right skate fit.

The Pencil Test

The pencil test is a great way to check the depth of your skate. If a skate is too deep, there is the chance that the boot is too large causing the potential for rubbing and blisters. A skate that is too shallow may be too tight causing your feet to lose circulation if laced tight or be uncomfortable due to cramping because of excessive snugness.

To check the depth of your hockey skate, unlace the top three or four eyelets and place your foot firmly in the skate. Your heel should be in the proper position and your feet flat with the skate blades firmly on the ground. Pull the tongue forward and place a pen or pencil across the third eyelets from the top.

If your pencil lies flat without rocking back and forth on the top of your foot, you have a proper fit. If there’s a large gap between the pencil and the top of your foot or the pencil rests on the top of your foot without reaching the eyelets of the skate boot, your skate is too deep or too shallow.

The Finger Test

Once you’ve tested the depth of your ice hockey skate boot, the finger test should let you know you’ve found the proper fit for the length of your foot and security for your heels and ankles.

The finger test requires you to lace your hockey skate exactly as you would before taking to the ice. Once this is done, lean forward and attempt to slide a finger down the back of your skate towards the heel. If you can easily slide more than one finger down the back of your skate and behind the heel, you’ll need to find a skate with a tighter fit.

Adult skaters may want a skate that is comfortably snug, so they may wish to have a fit where they cannot stretch a finger behind their heel. This is fine as long as the skate is not so tight that their must curl their toes to fit into the skate.

Youth skaters that expect to grow can comfortably skate in a boot that has between a one and two fingers gap in the back. Any more will result in a skate that is much too loose.

What if Your Skates Don’t Fit Comfortably Right Away?

What happens if you’ve calculated the correct skate size, picked out a boot that fits the shape of your foot and assessed the fit using the pencil and finger test but find your ice hockey skates are uncomfortable the first few times out on the ice? Did you purchase the wrong skates?

If you’ve considered all of these aspects of choosing an ice hockey skate, but still find them uncomfortable right out of the box, don’t fret, a lot of brand new ice hockey skates will be slightly uncomfortable at first.

If you’ve purchased a pair of hockey skates that are heat moldable, you may want to have them baked when you purchase them. Hockey equipment stores will often offer to bake a brand new pair of skates. This process will help mold the skate boot to your foot.

Baking is simply the process of heating up the leather of the skate and then lacing it up while the skate boot is still warm and flexible. Keeping the warm skate laced tightly on your foot will help conform the fit to your unique foot as the pliable materials cool and harden. This will help prevent rubbing and give you a more conformed fit in your new skates.

You’ll also want to put the effort into skating in your new skates as much as possible. Repeated use of the skates will help break them in for a more comfortable fit.

Skate Fit FAQs

Before we finish, here are some commonly asked questions about how to fit your hockey skates that should answer any other queries you might have.

Q: Does Lace Tightness Affect Skate Fit?

A: Yes. The way you lace your skates can change the way they fit. Tighter lacing will create a snug fit and wrapping the laces around the back of the ankles may cause restriction in ankle movement. Loose laces will result in a looser fit.

Q: Is Foot Soreness Normal?

A: Foot soreness may be normal in brand new skates that have not been broken in. If soreness continues, you may have skates that are improperly fitted.

Q: Where Should my Toes be in Properly Fitted Skates?

A: If your heel is locked while skating, your toes should not reach the cap of the toe box. They should just brush the end of the box when standing at rest.

Q: Can I wear Insole Inserts in my Ice Hockey Skates?

A: Yes. Many hockey players wear insoles in their skates. Remember to wear them when trying on new skates as the added insert will change the fit.

That’s it for our Skate Fitting Guide

We hope that helped to better explain how to fit a pair of hockey skates. It’s a crucial step to get right. Just make sure to try on a lot of pairs before you purchase. This will help you to work out what size skate you need and avoid disappointment. It’s also worth trying on different brands of skates as often the sizing will differ slightly.