Ah, the plight of parents with growing kids. It’s Murphy’s Parenting Law. No sooner do you buy them something than they outgrow it. Hockey equipment is no different. Inevitably we are only two weeks away from the end of the season and I realize that the equipment I have been putting on them suddenly doesn’t cover as much of their precious bodies as it used to.
It never fails. Buy them clothes for Christmas and the next week? Growth spurt.
Same situation for before school clothes.
Why would hockey equipment be any different?
Now most of it is fairly straightforward. The kids size in clothes matches up to the kids size in hockey equipment. And it all goes on using Velcro, so there’s a lot of wiggle room. But when it comes to how to fit kids for hockey skates? They are a whole different ball game.
For most kids starting out in hockey, you can keep the sport affordable by going to a department store and fitting their skates there (think Canadian Tire or Walmart). For some kids, because of foot width or the need for inserts, a more specialized store will be required. As with everything when it comes to kids, buying second hand is always a great option until you figure out whether they truly enjoy the sport or not.
Once you’ve figured out where to buy the skates, here’s how you figure what size to buy.
Step One: As a general rule, skates are a size smaller than their shoe size. This depends on the kid and the skate, but that’s your starting point. Put the skate on with the laces good and loose.
Step Two: Check for fit. This is where I got stuck because with a skate, you can’t really feel where the toe is in the boot. The ever helpful store sports guy showed me a trick. Have your child stand and try to put your finger down the back of the boot. If you can, you’re probably looking at a good size for your kid. You don’t want much more room than a finger width.
But we’re not done yet.
Step Three: Now that we’ve checked for overall fit, you want to get their heel into the back of the boot. Best way to do this, especially for younger players, is to knock the back end of the skate blade on the ground. Hopefully the store has some kind of protective mat for you to do this. Concrete is a killer on skate blades. Give the boot a couple good knocks this way (with the kid’s foot still in it, of course). This puts the foot in a good position for the rest of the fitting.
Step Four: Tie the skates up. Yes both of them. And have your player stand. Depending on your kid, you might have to ask “how do those feel” in about 72 different ways to get an idea of fit. Or they’ll tell you right away if something doesn’t feel right. There’s no in between. Walking around in the skate is not really going to give a fully accurate picture of whether the hockey skates fit, but you want your kid to move around a little to find any pinch points. I often have mine lean to one side, then the other.
Step Five: With the skates tied, have your player crouch. This will give you a visual of the back of the skate. You want a gap there (again, not a lot of a gap, but some movement is good). By crouching, this sort of flattens out the feet so your child gets an idea of where their toes will be during skating. You don’t want the toes pressed up against the end of the skate. You also don’t want the foot with too much space to move either.
Figuring out how to fit kids for hockey skates is a fine balance, I know. But you will have a pretty good idea if the skate is too small or too large, I promise. If there is a question of fit, go ahead and try on the next size and compare the two. That always helps me.
Finally, if you have the time and your player isn’t losing their patience, I would recommend trying a different brand or two. Much like buying running shoes, sometimes you don’t know a better fit until it’s on the foot. Taking the time now will save a lot of frustration during the season.
See you at the rink,