Winter is already in the air and that means it might be time to buy skates. When purchasing skates for recreational or competitive purposes, it’s important to remember you can buy either new or used skates.
Depending on your budget, new skates are always your best option, but if you shop around, used sporting goods stores can provide you with good used skates at a reduced cost. The most important things about buying skates, new or used, are as follows:
• Proper fit – snug but not too tight. Skates should be snug at the heel. A big or sloppy fit hurts the player’s ability to skate. Don’t buy skates that are too big and hope the skater will grow into them. You will be hindering development. Leather and nylon skates are the best option.
• Skates that don’t fit break down quicker than those that do, which will result in aggravation, greater cost and lost skating time.
• Skates should have good support around the ankles, and are usually one or two sizes smaller than street shoes. When buying used skates make sure the ankle support is strong. Breakdown in the support will be visible by looking carefully at the ankle area of the skate.
• You should only have to wear one pair of cotton socks in order for the skates to fit properly.
• To prevent the outer covering of nylon skates from wearing too quickly, apply water repellent material or shellac to the toe caps and side panels – sporting goods stores have a product called “Tuff Toe” that works well.
• Tie up the skates tight and snug, using cotton laces. Nylon laces can cut the foot, and cotton laces stay tighter longer than nylon. Always tie tendon laces at the back of the skates in order to prevent injuries to the Achilles tendon.
• Laces – Buy the proper length. Don’t wrap the laces around the ankle, it may reduce circulation. Parents will often buy longer laces and hope the younger brother or sister may have a chance to use them, but often the laces are in the garbage well before that time. Check to make sure that the tips on the laces are in good condition. It can be very frustrating for young skaters trying to learn how to tie their own skates to find that they can’t get the laces through the eyelets.
Help your young skater learn how to tie his or her own skates. Parents are always very helpful when it comes to tying their children’s skates – sometimes too helpful. Young skaters should start tying their own skates by age nine or ten. If the skates need tightening, that’s when mom or dad can help.
• If you have blisters from your skates, a product that is very helpful is called Second Skin. Apply a piece of “Second Skin” as big as the blister directly on the blister. Band-Aids will keep the Second Skin in place. Second Skin is available at any drug store or athletic supply store.
• To help prevent premature rotting of the sole of the boot, take the insole out of the skate after each use to dry out the inner part of the bottom of the skate. This will help dry the area where the blades are riveted to the boots. Rotting will often occur if this isn’t done. Make sure to wipe all the snow or water from you blades after each skate in order to prevent rusting which can eat into the steel of the blade.
• Sharpen as often as you feel necessary to keep a comfortable edge. Skates are recommended to be rockered, and have a hollow to give you inside and outside edges. Rockered skates have less blade on the ice, allowing for sharper turns.
• Check for nicks in your edges. Check for sharpness by rubbing your thumbnail against the edge. Before and after the sharpening, check the edges of the blade to ensure one side isn’t higher than the other. You can do this by holding the blades of the skates at eye level and look straight down the edges.
If you take the above tips into consideration, you will know how to buy skates next time you go shopping.