How to Size Hockey Skates: 4 Tips for Comfort & Performance

When you are on the rink playing hockey, the last thing you want to worry about is sore feet from improperly fitting hockey skates.

With all of the information available about hockey equipment, no one should play with skates that do not fit.

But, if your skates are uncomfortable or you are in the market for new ones, there are several things to consider regarding hockey skate sizing and finding skates that will not hurt your feet.

Lengths and widths

how to size hockey skates
The first thing to know is that there are several different fits for hockey skates.

Just like shoes, hockey skates come in different lengths and widths. The widths include narrow, regular, wide, and extra wide. Some times those are listed as C, D, E, or EE, but some will also have letters like N, R, or W.

Skate lengths come in numbers, just like shoes.

One thing to consider is that many hockey players find that some skate brands run big, so if someone wears a size 10 shoe, that could translate into size 8 or 9 in hockey skates. But, this does not apply to all brands.

Arch and Depth

As you start to look for hockey skates that fit, you should look at more than just the length and width of the boot.

It is important to also look at the arch or depth in the boot as well as the type of hockey you play.

Some hockey players will also look at their weight as a deciding factor when choosing skates. May people also look at the angle from the heel to the toe, the width of the toe, and the size of the pocket for the heel.

All of these areas can create discomfort and pain if they are not properly fitted.

How to “Test” the fit

There are a few different tests that hockey players will use to determine if skates will fit them.

The first is the pencil test. While wearing untied hockey skates, you use a pencil and place it across the eyelets with the tongue of the skate pulled out. Most people will put the pencil on the third eyelet from the top.

There are two things you can discover from this test. As the pencil lays parallel to the floor, it should lay flat against the skate without rocking. This shows that the skates fit. However, if the pencil touches your foot, then your foot is not resting deep enough in the skate and the skates do not fit properly.

The second test is the finger test and it shows whether your ankle will be supported properly in the skate.

You will need a friend to help you with this one. For this test, put the skates on and lace them up as tightly as you would to play. Then get into your hockey stance. Use a friend for this next step.

As you are in your hockey position leaning forward with bent knees, have your friend try to slide a finger in the back of the skate at the heel. If your friend can get more than one finger in at the heel, then the skates are too big.

If your skates are not fitting at the heel, then you can expect painful blisters. Adults with fully grown feet should not have much space at all; in fact, less than a finger is idea. Children can get away with a finger gap at the heel because they will grow into their skates.

Toe brush test

Another important consideration for hockey skate sizing is the toe brush test.

When you are wearing your skates, your toes should just graze the toe cap in your skates. You can test this by putting on your skates as if you were going to play. Then stand up.

If your toes graze the cap, then they are ok. To test it again, move into your hockey stance as your heels move back, you should not be able to touch the toe cap. If this is the case, then you have skates that fit.

Notes on Stiffness

Many people ask about the appropriate level of stiffness in their skates.

If you are a veteran hockey player, then you will benefit from stiff skates because they allow for more ankle support, but the stiffness could reduce some mobility while you are skating.

Young, developing hockey players benefit from boots with some stiffness, but no where near what veteran players use. Adult players who play at a high level will be able to break in their skates, but young players will not – simply because they do not have the weight and aggressiveness to break them in quickly and effectively.

The best way to test out the stiffness of skates is to squeeze them at the spot where your ankles would be. If the skates easily squeeze, they are not good hockey skates. You want skates with resistance to protect ankles and tendons while on the ice.

With a few simple tests and knowledge about finding good fitting hockey skates, you should not ever have to worry about having sore feet from ill-fitting skates.