Whether this is your first time buying skates from a reputable dealer, or you’ve been purchasing skates for years, this blog walks you through the process of finding the right skate for your son or daughter.
Skates are an important part of a skater’s success on the ice and purchasing the right boot and blade can be a confusing process at first. Over the years many of us have been fed misinformation, confusing contradictions, or just frankly have left it to the skate technicians and coaches to figure it out. Much like fingerprints, each person’s foot is unique. A boot that works for one skater could be the wrong choice for the next, and there is a learning curve to getting this all right.
Before we get into the details of purchasing boots and blades it is important to address a few myths and common mistakes that parents can make when purchasing skates.
Myth 1: The “Lake Placid” Sports Authority special
Many parents buy their child’s first pair of skates from a sporting goods store or other generalized store. For learn to skate classes and a child’s first few months on the ice these skates are sometimes suitable. They are certainly better than the canvas skates in the garage that your grandmother wore, and many kids wear them during the first stages of learn to skate classes.
However, once a skater decides to take lessons, privately or even as they progress through some learn to skate classes, we recommend buying skates from a reputable brand and from a skate dealer. This is an investment that doesn’t have to be crazy expensive, but it is best to go to a specialized store with an experienced skate tech to help. We personally recommend Home Ice in Boston. Aislinn Munck, owner and founder is one of our affiliates and works closely with us to ensure skaters get into the best skates for their personal needs.
Myth 2: More expensive = More Performance
This mistake is a very common one made by many skating parents. Thinking their kid needs the “best” equipment and sparing no expense on their child, they spend 1200 dollars on skates and blades and the kid isn’t even doing axel yet. All too often a skate technician is biting at the chomps to sell this highly profitable boot and blade to them. Even when the technician knows this is the wrong choice, and honestly explains it to a motivated parent, they may lose out to the insistent parent who thinks they are just doing what is best for their kid.
Unfortunately, this is one of the worst mistakes you make for your developing skater. One of the core tenants of skating is learning how to bend with proper alignment, using the ankles and knees to bend well. Skaters who are in boots that are too stiff will be robbed of the ability to bend well. This will make it harder to properly skate, lead to bad habits, and in the worst case cause serious overuse injuries as the body tries to compensate. The stiffness of the most expensive boots is built for top level skaters to compensate for the massive forces of triple and quadruple jumps.
The beginning skater, and even young smaller skaters beginning triples, do not weigh enough or jump with enough force to skate properly in the top model boots. Try as they might, the beginning skater will never be able to “break in” top level skates. Even worse than the pain they will experience is the fact that the child is being robbed of the opportunity to develop strong and functional ankles.
Importantly, skaters should be put in boots appropriate to their size and level of skating. Many boot manufacturers have charts that recommend specific models for certain level ranges in skating. This information should be taken with a grain of salt. This is where the guidance of your coach and skate technician come into play. They will know best the skater’s needs, tendencies, goals, etc.
Myth 3: Buy em’ big, kids grow like weeds anyway
It is not recommended you purchase skates that are too large for your child. Purchasing drastically oversized skates not only will result in poor performance, discomfort and possible injury, it will also cause early product failure. Do buy figure skates that will last the entire skating season for growing skaters, but no longer.
In the next blog, we will discuss how to purchase and maintain your skates.