Having the wrong size or fit of hockey skates can really ruin your performance on the ice. Regardless of whether you are a competitive or recreational skater, if you do not have adequate support on your feet, you are not going to have much control of your feet, making cornering and stopping a challenge.
So how do you size hockey skates correctly? Unfortunately, hockey skates do not fit in exactly the same way as shoes and there is more to take into consideration than whether it fits the length of your foot. We will go over how to size ice hockey skates so you can get the perfect fit for your needs.
Why You Need the Right Size
To begin with, let’s go over why you need the right size of hockey skate. Ill-fitting skates will ruin your performance on the ice. If the skates are too large, for example, you will not have enough stability to support your ankles and you will find that you do not have as much balance as you should.
If you have gaps around your foot and your ankle, you will also run the risk of pooling sweat within the skate, which can cause other troubles, as well as having a lot of room for movement within the skate, resulting in friction and blisters.
Likewise, if your skates are too tight, you are going to find that you have aching feet and have trouble skating. The bones and ligaments within your feet will be squished and the circulation to your feet could be cut off. The result would be numbness and a lack of control over your feet as well as the obvious pain of having your feet being squished.
Regardless, if the skates are not the right fit, you are going to be uncomfortable, have poor balance, and ultimately will have a poor performance on the ice. No one wants to skate if their feet hurt. This is why you must be sure that the skates are comfortable for you to begin with rather than find out the hard way, after you have been skating for a while.
To begin with, there are three sizing groups for hockey skates, divided up by age groups. It will be clear which of these groups that you should fit into.
- Youth: Youth size skates are designed for the youngest players, usually for kids 8 and under, which is less than a youth shoe size of 1.5.
- Junior: Junior hockey skates are for the next age group, which are kids from ages 8 to 12. The shoe size equivalent is a kid’s size 2 to 6.5.
- Senior: The senior sizes are the adult sizes, typically for anyone age 13 and over and a men’s size 7 (or women’s size 9) and up. For women’s skates, the skates also start at women’s size 7 typically.
Sizing Foot Width
Just like with shoe sizes, hockey skates come in a variety of widths in order to match the width of your feet. Most people will fit well into the regular width, but skates also come in narrow and wide width. The size chart for each type of skate should help you indicate the right width for you if you are not sure about your foot width. Hockey skates will have a number after the size, which is the width of the boot. This is what they are:
C/N: Narrow width
D/R: Regular or average width. This is the most common width you will find.
E/W/EE: Wide to extra-wide
If you have wider feet, you will have more trouble finding the right skates for you, but you should not try to squish your feet into the regular width shoes for the same reasons you cannot wear too small of a size: you will cut off the circulation to your feet and not have a good amount of control on the ice. That's why you should look for hockey skates for wide feet.
Hockey Skate Sizing
A common misconception is that the size of your hockey skates should be the same as the size of your shoes. While the sizing can vary depending on the brand of boots, you can assume that your hockey skates will be about 1 to 2 sizes smaller than your street shoe size. Keep this in mind when you are looking at boots, but you will ultimately need to use a size chart and measure your feet to guarantee that you will boots will fit.
If you are planning on ordering your skates online, you cannot simply base your boot size on your shoe size and hope that it is right. After confirming a size chart and measuring your foot with a ruler, you might have a better idea of the right size to order.
Ideally, you would be able to go to a sporting goods store or a hockey equipment supplier and be able to try on the skates to begin with. If you have an experienced customer service assistant, they should be able to measure your feet for you, selecting the correct size and understanding what you need. You need to make sure that you have the socks that you would wear with the skates on your feet as well in order to get the precise fit.
Do not buy the first pair of skates that you try on. You should try on several types and brands with your hockey socks to get a better idea of what really would be comfortable on your feet. You cannot just try one pair, assume it is the best and go from there. Brands all have different fits as well, and you will find that some are snugger than others, which is why you really need to try out more than one.
Testing Your Fit
If you have used the size chart or you have had the help from a pro at a sports store and have a good idea on what the right size and width is, you will then need to test the fit to make sure that the hockey skate sizing is right. This is how you can do that.
- The Pencil Test: The first test that you can do once your skates are on is the pencil test. With the skates untied, pull the tongue out and lay a pen or pencil on top of the eyelets, about three eyelets down. The pencil should lay flat and still if the depth is right. If the pencil can touch your foot, there is not enough depth.
- The Finger Test: The second test that you can try is the finger test. Lace up your hockey skates to the tightness you prefer. Lean forward on the skates and bend your knees. Reaching back, you can gauge how much space there is in between your heel and the skate. If you can slip more than one finger in the gap, your heel is not locked and you will get blisters.
- Look at your Toes: Once you have laced up the skates, take a look at where your toes are within the boot. There should not be much if any room in between your toes and the toe cap inside of the skates.
- Take a Walk: It might be a little awkward, but you should walk around the room in the boots. Just like you would do with a pair of shoes, see if your heels move around in the boot when you step. If they slip around, the fit is not right.
- The Stiffness of the Boot: The final factor you should consider is how stiff the boot is. A stiffer boot might give you extra support, but they can also be terribly uncomfortable, especially with newer players. Likewise, you can’t have a pair of skates that is too weak. If the outside of the skates bends when you squat, there is not enough support. If they don’t budge at all, they are too stiff.
What You Can Do For A Better Fit
In the event that you have found a pair that you really love or want, but the fit is not quite right, there might be hope for you. Some skates, though keep in mind that it is not true for all skates, have the ability to be baked. Instead of suffering through the process of breaking in skates, you can bake them in an oven in order to soften the boot and give them a chance to mold around your foot for a custom fit. Baking is not an ultimate solution, however. If the skates really fit poorly, baking them is not going to fix it for you.
You cannot skip all of the tests and the needed fit considerations when you are shopping for hockey skates. Going through all of the size charts and fit tests can help you size your hockey skates correctly, giving you the best control and performance on the ice. And really, the comfort of your feet should be the last thing on your mind when you are on the ice.
Hey there, my name is Shawn and I’m a semi-professional hockey player. I’m also the founder and chief editor here at Hockey Pursuits. I love playing hockey and helping players improve their game and that’s why I decided to start this blog.