Skates Guide

Everything You Need To Know About Your Skates

Discover the essentials of selecting, maintaining, and maximizing the performance of your skates. This guide provides practical advice for skaters at all levels to ensure your skating equipment complements your skills and skating goals.

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Choosing Your First Skates

Choosing the right skates is crucial as you embark on your skating journey. For beginners, it’s important to select skates that fit well to prevent discomfort and support skill development. Ensure your skates are tight enough—laces should not loosen, and your fingers shouldn’t fit between the boot and your ankle. If using pads, be fitted with them as they are essential for consistent protection. Beginners might consider skates like Riedell Pearls (now known as Ruby) or Jackson Softec, which are designed for new skaters and provide both boot and blade. Remember, skates should be tied tightly with no gaps, and thin skating socks are preferred to thicker ones for better skate fit and comfort. If you find the skates are too loose, seek help from a coach or parent to ensure they are secured properly.

Maintaining Your Skates

Proper care and maintenance of your skates extends their lifespan and ensures optimal performance during practices and competitions. Follow these guidelines to keep your skates in prime condition.

For long-term maintenance, ensure your skates are sharpened every 10-20 hours of ice time, depending on your skill level and the amount of time spent on the ice. Regular sharpening keeps the blades accurate for better performance. Additionally, do not forget to check and tighten screws as needed and consider professional fittings regularly to ensure your skates remain in good shape as your skills and body grow and change.


Knowing When To Upgrade Your Skates

Skates are a fundamental part of your skating gear, but they don’t last forever. Recognizing the right time to upgrade can help prevent injuries and improve your performance on the ice. Please keep in mind that while a coach may be able to notice break down, they will not be able to tell if a skate is getting too small or causing discomfort unless they are made aware if the skater is performing normally. Skaters should keep an open line of communication with their parents and their coach about how their skates are feeling. Here are key signs and tips to help you understand when to consider new skates.

If you notice any of these signs, consult with your coach or a skate fitting professional. They can provide a detailed assessment and recommend the best type and fit of new skates based on your current level, frequency of skating, and other factors like your age, height, weight, and foot shape. Always have a fitting done by professionals at a recommended skate shop to ensure you get the most suitable skates for your needs.

Selecting a Skate Shop and Preparing for Your Fitting

Choosing the right skate shop and knowing what to bring to a skate fitting are crucial steps in acquiring the perfect pair of skates. A professional fitting ensures that you get skates that are well-suited to your skating level and foot shape, enhancing both comfort and performance.

Benefits of Professional Skate Fittings:

While you can order skates online or visit the nearest big-box store, we recommend consulting a professional to save you time and ensure a perfect fit.

What to Bring to Your Skate Fitting:

To ensure the most effective fitting, come prepared with the following items:

Recommended Skate Shops
Alexis Cunningham-Capoullez
owner of Pro Shop/Skate Shop

Alexis is the Skating Director of Johnstown/Ebensburg programs and runs a Pro Shop/Skate Shop that has the ability to order Riedell and Jackson Skates. Additional services include: Punch Out, Balance/Mount, Sharpening, & Stretching.

Rob Martin
RMU ISC Pro-Shop

Rob is the Assistant Director at RMU Island Sports Center and manages the Pro Shop. He also employs an Ice Dancer for figure skate fittings and has the ability to order all types of skates and perform all special requests. 

Rich Lippert
Precision Edges by Rich

Rich is the owner of Precision Edges by Rich, a Skate Shop in Pittsburgh, PA. He has the ability to order all types of skates and perform all special requests. 

Chris and Carl
Skater's Edge

Chris and Carl are the owners of Skater’s Edge, a Skate Shop in Cleveland, OH. They have the ability to order all types of skates and perform all special requests. 

General Skate Information and Fitting Tips

Every brand of skates fits differently, and it’s crucial that the skates you order match the brand and model you were fitted for. Mismatches between measured and ordered skates can lead to discrepancies in size and fit. Skates should be sized exactly to the skater’s foot or up to a half size larger, depending on the brand. Unfortunately, opting for a full size larger to ensure longer time spent in that skate will only be detrimental to the skater’s safety and skill development.


Transitioning to New Skates:

Transitioning to new skates requires careful adjustment. When you receive new skates, walk around your home with hard guards on to get used to them before hitting the ice. Initially, leave the top hook around the ankle untied to allow flexibility for knee bends. As you become more comfortable, you can tighten the top hook for better support. Remember, all skates need to be sharpened before their first use on the ice, and getting used to new skates is a gradual process—patience is key.

Starter Skates and Upgrades:

For beginners transitioning from rental skates, suitable models include Riedell Pearls (Ruby), Riedell Emeralds (Topaz), and Jackson Softec or Excel. These models come paired with blades, ideal for new skaters. As skaters advance, they may require stiffer boots, which often do not include blades, necessitating separate purchases. Keep in mind that with size increases, blade lengths and guard sizes will also change.

Skate Measuring Trick:

You can use an old shoe box to track your skaters foot growth and determine when it’s time for a new pair of skates. 

  1. Place your right foot in an old shoe box, keeping the heel against the back wall. 
  2. Use an index card to mark on the right side of the box where the big toe ends.
  3. Repeat on the other side using your left foot
  4. Mark the date of the measurement and repeat monthly
  5. Once you notice a change/growth; repeat weekly and then daily until the growth seems to have stopped.

Upon the first notice of change, notify your coach that you are going to need new skates soon and determine the boot brand and blade lengths for your skater, then notify your skate shop and set up an appointment.