Goalie vs Player Skates: 5 Key Differences Explained

There are several differences in structure and performance when it comes to goalie vs player skates. This article attempts to answer that question! Let’s begin.

A young hockey player just learning to skate can get by with any type of hockey skate.

But, once a hockey player decides on a position, it is time to consider a specialized skate.

The differences in the boots

goalie vs player skates
One of the most notable differences with goalie and positional player skates is the boot. Goalie boots are shorter than traditional hockey skates. They do not have tendon guards and the tongues are shorter.

Goalies do not move in the same way that players do, but they still need to have range of motion to stop shots. And, goalie boots are designed to keep the entire foot and ankle safe when pucks strike. So, goalie boots have a hard shell for those hard impacts ad some have a plastic cowling that covers the front of the foot, the side, and the back of the foot, too.

Foot protection

player vs goalie skate protectionAnother notable difference is the protection that goalie skates provide to the foot.

The protective cowling on most goalie skates is designed to keep the toes from breaking when pucks are shot into the net. Without cowlings or other types protection, hockey goalies most likely would not walk out of the arena because their toes and feet would be broken regularly.

Many of the latest goalie skate models come with protection directly built into the boot, so a special cowling is not needed. They also have thick toe protection built right into the boot, too.

Remember that hockey pucks can travel at speeds over 100 MPH!

If the foot is struck directly by a puck at this type of speed, toes can easily break. Defensemen and forwards often have protection on their boots, too, but it is more flexible than what is provided for a goaltender. It is not common to see player skates with same hard plastic shells that goalie skates have.

How the blades vary

The other big difference involves the blades of the two types of skates.

Longer blades

The blades affect the way that the hockey player skates and since goalies do not need to move up and down the ice like a position player, they do not need the short blades. Therefore, goalie blades are thick and long to give the goalie more power for side-to-side movement. The increased surface area gives goalies the force they need to move short distances quickly. These longer blades also give more stability to the player and to the skate.

Imagine the force of a puck hitting skate blades. You want to have a strong blade to take the impact and properly deflect the puck, too. Goalie skates are designed for quick movements, but not quick turns like players need on the ice.


Goalie skate blades also vary in the way they are designed.

Because goalies have to move from side to side, they have flat blades. Player skate blades have a curve so they can move in all directions. But, goalie skate blades are designed with the idea that goalies have to move in all directions at any time, unlike players who usually move in one direction for a longer period of time.

Maintenance Differences

The goalie blade needs more care than the blade on a traditional skate.

Because goalies move from side of side, their blades wear down faster than player skates. It is important that they are sharpened regularly to keep the blade ready to grip the ice for those side-to-side movements.

It is also important to take care of them to smooth the flaws that come from hitting the posts and from the screaming pucks that hit them, too.

Goalie Styles

butterfly goalie skatesThere are two different main styles of goaltending and the way their skates are sharpened matters.

The butterfly goalie has an up-and-down style of play that involves using the legs and knees to stop the puck. This type of goalie needs blades that help the goalie get up from the butterfly, so they need to dig into the ice effectively.

The stand-up goalie uses the pads and stick to stop the puck, so his skates do not need to be as sharp as a butterfly goalie skates need to be. In fact, a stand-up goalie needs blades that allow for sliding from side-to-side, so a slightly duller blade is helpful for getting around the crease.

Fitting differences

Getting the best fit for goalie and player skates is important.

They come in traditional shoe sizes and in most cases, hockey players of all positions should buy skates that are slightly smaller than their shoes.

Most hockey players buy their skates in at least one or one-and-a-half sizes smaller than their shoe sizes. Many also look for wider boots, too, especially if they experience discomfort on the edges of their feet. It is common for hockey players to buy at least D-width boots if not E or EE.

It is very important for your toes to touch the front of the boot, because this is where the puck will hit frequently. If you are a goalie and your toes hit the front of the boot, you will experience pain. Look for about a pinkie finger width of space between the front of the boot and the end of your toes.