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If the Boot Fits (New or Used Skates)

posted Aug 8, 2015, 10:36 AM by Skate Doctor   [ updated Mar 7, 2018, 9:42 AM ]

It’s that time of year. Summer is quickly fading and hockey is right around the corner. If you haven’t been on your skates all summer, perhaps this is around the time that you pull them out of your hockey bag to see if they still fit. Maybe you’re quickly reminded of some painful skate issues that plagued you throughout your last season. Whatever the case, this is typically the time of year when many people start the search for new (or used) skates. 

Unfortunately, a lot of skaters are in the wrong skate. Young and old, recreational and competitive, new or used, it’s plain and simple – wrong skate. Some players go through their entire “careers” struggling in the “wrong” skate. It happens. Some players are very aware of the problem, frequently plagued by pain and discomfort. Others just never recognize the performance gap caused by using the wrong skate.

Fact: Just like feet, skates are NOT all created equally. There are many factors that go into the creation of a skate, but we’ll focus on just a few of them here today.

       ·      Fit

       ·      Stiffness

       ·      Cut/Pitch

Fit

The fit of a skate describes its overall shape. It describes its length, width (forefoot and heel), and depth (from heel to instep, or volume). It may also describe the shape or support of the sole where it comes in contact with the bottom of your foot. Manufacturers use a “last”, or foot model, to create skates. In the case of an off-the-shelf skate, this last is based on a generalized, normal foot size and shape that the manufacturer is trying to appeal to. If you’re lucky, one of these generalized lasts may be a perfect match for your foot, and an off-the-shelf skate may fit you perfectly. If you’re someone with an irregular foot or foot problems, a regularly lasted skate may not work for you and you may experience pain or performance gaps unless you seek custom built skates.

We get asked all the time – “What is the best skate?” This is a loaded question, because the “best” skate is the one that fits YOU the best and feels the best on your foot. Just because your friend or child’s friend is wearing a certain skate and loves it, doesn’t mean that it will work for you. In fact, we encourage you to try on as many skates as you can to find the one that fits you best. Different brands and even models/lines within a brand are marketed to different foot shapes and types. Simply getting a skate because it looks “cool”, has the best color, or because “Tommy has it”, doesn’t imply that it will fit you properly. A Bauer can fit differently than a CCM or a Graf… And yes, a Bauer Vapor will fit differently than a Bauer Supreme or Bauer Nexus. A CCM RBZ will fit differently than a Jet Speed or Tack, etc. Whoever is fitting your skates should know the differences between all the models available and be able to suggest something that will work for your unique foot shape and size. 

Stiffness

Stiffer skates have a harder boot, typically in the sides and the area near the eyelets. Higher-end, pricier skates are typically stiffer than lower-end skates. A stiffer skate often appeals to more competitive players or more skilled skaters who require the additional protection and support, and can use the energy transfer from a stiffer skate boot to enhance their performance. Softer skates are often used by recreational skaters or for rental skates where there is more of an emphasis on comfort and less on performance.

In addition to protection and support, a stiffer skate will also last longer for a more competitive player. A stiffer, properly fitted skate will prevent the skate from breaking down as quickly as a softer skate. Signs of a skate breaking down include creasing, cracking, tearing or excessive softening.

Stiffness is very much also up to personal preference, so choose a skate that feels good on your feet. When trying on skates, flex forward and try to experience the full range of the skate on your foot to understand how it might feel on the ice… And remember, the top of the line, most expensive skate may not be the one that feels best for you or allows you to perform the best.  

Cut/Pitch

Different models of skates have different “cuts”. The “cut” describes how high the skate material goes up the side of the boot. Think of a low-cut skate being comparable to a convertible car, and a high-cut skate being closer to an SUV. A lower-cut skate has the potential for a greater range of ankle and foot flexion, however, should be paired with an experienced skater with strong ankles and developed stride. A higher-cut skate has perhaps slightly less range of flexion, but provides greater support and can be favored by skaters at all levels. Find a skate that feels like it is providing you the support you personally like and need on the ice.

Pitch describes whether a skate puts a skater on their toes, in a neutral balance point, or back towards their heels. Pitch may be created by how the boot was lasted, or through the combination of skate blade holder and skate steel. Again, this is largely up to personal preference, but is also one of the features of a skate that can be easily modified through lifts or blade profiling

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Skate Doctor is experienced in sizing, fitting and solving issues related to skating pain and performance. We can help you find a new skate that will work well for your feet, or bake and/or punch, profile and sharpen a used pair of skates that you’ve purchased elsewhere. Our goal is to help you excel on the ice by ensuring your skates are fitted and performing properly.

If you find that you’re having a hard time finding a skate that fits due to a variety of factors, including injury, irregular foot shape or size, or medical condition, etc. you may be a perfect candidate for custom skates. 

Remember, your skates are one of the most important investments you can make as a skater. Do not settle for pain or a pair that just doesn’t fit you properly!