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Children's Skates
Every parent has had the experience of buying shoes or other clothing for a growing child and having them no longer fit after only a few weeks - and not due to shrinkage, but due to a growth spurt. Unfortunately, feet grow erratically, and the growth is not always accompanied by an increase in height.

If you buy children's skates too loose, they will interfere with the skating and may actually be dangerous due to the lack of support. They may also repeatedly raise blisters. If you buy them too small, or have your skater continue to skate in them for some time after they have become too small, either the skater will quit (because it hurts so much), the skating will suffer, OR the feet will suffer -- perhaps permanently.

To check the fit of the skates your child has now, ask your child to put their skates on loosely and put the foot right to the front of the boot. If you can put an index finger between the heel and the back of the boot, there is enough room to grow without the boot being too big. When the child skates, check to see if the skates are perfectly upright.

The only way to lessen the cost of keeping children's feet in skates that fit is to buy used skates (on consignment, or at skate swaps), and to sell your outgrown skates. Used children's skates are very available and usually in far better shape than used adult skates. Get the child's coach to help you select them, (and yours, too, if you go that route) so that you don't purchase something that is unsuitable.

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Buying Boots
For advanced skaters, boots and blades are sold separately.The boots you need must be stiff enough to prevent most lateral motion (ankle flopping) but must still allow flexing of the ankle, enough to let you bend your knees deeply while skating. For comfort, the boots should also conform somewhat to your feet. The only material that really fits the bill is thick leather; the plastic of department store skates doesn't even come close. With new boots the flexibility at the ankle will develop as you begin to wear them (an important part of "breaking in" your skates - more about that later). Old boots can become so heavily creased at the ankle that they no longer provide support (they've "broken down"). The better the boots you buy, the longer they will last without breaking down, so look at good boots as an investment. In any event, your boots should be stiff enough at least to support their own weight if you grab them by the cuff and turn them upside down.

Additional support can be had with thicker leather and with internal steel stiffeners, all at higher cost. More expensive skates also have other features that add to comfort, support, and injury protection, e.g. leather linings and padding of the tongue and areas around the foot. Especially useful are built-in Achilles’ tendon pads that cushion on either side of the tendon.

None of this expensive support is much good if your skates are too big. Filling up oversized skates with thick socks will hinder support since the foot can still slip inside the boot. Your boots should be large enough to let you wiggle your toes, but decidedly snug through instep and heel while wearing thin socks (e.g. the weight of tights). Note that to keep your feet warm in figure skates, you add insulation to the outside of your boots - boot covers are available in a wide range of materials.

The best way for a beginner to achieve a proper fit is to seek out a specialty skate dealer with a good reputation. Be prepared to buy boots one to one-and-a-half sizes smaller than your street shoes - that's what it takes to get the snug fit. Ask the salesperson for advice on brand of boot if you suspect you have any orthopaedic peculiarities. The styles of different manufacturer’s boots are slightly different, and making a careful choice at this point may prevent many problems down the road.

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Buying Blades
The blades of good skates are screwed (not riveted) to the boot soles so that different blades can be attached to meet the particular needs and activities of the skater. Also, this arrangement allows adjustment of the mounting of the blade to provide for individual physical requirements.

Blades are available with modifications for freestyle and dance. For beginners, a pair of the less expensive freestyle blades is a good choice, even if your ultimate goal is ice dance (dance blades are shorter from front to back and present difficulties for the beginner). If you plan to do any jumping, choose blades with a reasonably competent set of toe picks (MK Single Stars or the equivalent). The picks of less expensive skates tend to give  a less secure purchase on the ice during jumps with a toe pick take-off. On the other hand, the wicked-looking picks of the blades designed for advanced skates (e.g. MK Phantoms) are definitely "over-kill" for beginner-intermediate skaters.

Your skate dealer will mount the blades for you using only half of the available screw holes on the sole plate. He's not short-changing you; the rest of the screw positions are then available for future positioning adjustments or as alternatives if the original holes become enlarged through wear. Mounting blades correctly takes skill, which is another reason why you should make the effort to find a competent and reliable dealer.

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Care of Your Skates
Always use blade guards when walking around off the ice, or, second best, stick to the rink's rubber matting. Never let your blades contact cement or metal. When you use guards, be sure there is no gritty dirt on the bottoms of your blades or inside the guards.

Water is the enemy. When you take off your skates, wipe boots and blades dry with an old towel. Don't put your guards back on! Instead slip on a pair of terry cloth blade covers. These will wick away moisture that condenses on your cold blades as you move into a warmer environment. Storing your blades in the rubber guards actually encourages corrosion.


After skating, don't stuff your sweaty socks into your skates and seal them all up in your waterproof skate bag to rot until the next weekend. Unpack your skates as soon as possible and leave them to dry out (but not by a heat source!). Treat your boot uppers occasionally with a leather preservative such as Luxol.


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In Your Bag
There are several items that belong in every skater’s equipment bag. These include:
     -    extra mittens or gloves for either the colder weather or when the first pair gets wet
     -    small towel or cloth to wipe the skate blades after a session on the ice. Never leave your
          guards on the skates as they cause the blades to rust

     -    kleenex
     -    an extra sweater for those cold days in January

For the more advanced skaters (Pre-Junior and up):
     -    keep an ice pack in your skating bag for those bumps and bruises
     -    “Second Skin” bandages for blisters. They really help eliminate the pain and
          speed healing

     -    bubble pad to prevent blisters from forming.

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Back to Information & Downloads

Children's Skates

Buying Boots

Buying Blades

Care of Your Skates

In Your Bag

A Complete Guide to the Selection and Maintenance of Boots

A Complete Guide to the Selection and Maintenance of Blades

Blades & Sharpening

 © 2009 Valley East Skating Club