Das BootsOK, so that's probably grammatically incorrect German for boats, but hey as far as some of your feet go boats is accurate. Yeah, I've seen you out there in your size 13 skates and it's like a pair of kayaks on the rink. But I digress here . . . we're talking about that part of the skate that troubles almost everyone--the boots.
|Bauer Vapor X:05 - In stock at Rocket Skate|
So yes, you can find a pair of skates that feel like slippers right out of the box. However, they are going to probably going to be about 2 sizes too big for that to be the case. Skates this big will allow your feet to move around. When your feet move around in the boots, you spend a lot of money on blister pads and a lot of time using the belt sander to remove callous build-ups in odd places on your feet. I have no idea how you're going to treat your bone spurs when they develop. On top of having really ugly feet, your skating is going to suffer since a huge portion of your stride energy will dissipate in the wrenching, twisting motion of your boots as they oscillate in protest on your swollen red feet.
So, the first step in making life easier it to buy the right size of skates. If you're an adult, you need to make sure that your toe touches the end of skate when you're standing straight up. With your knees bent, a perfect fit will have you just lightly brushing the toe cap or pulling slightly off or if. Kid's should be up 1/2 to 3/4 size from a perfect fit so they have room to grow while keeping the skates from completely spinning around their feet.
|Reebok 8K - Great heatmodable skates in stock|
Any decent hockey skate these days is heat-moldable (or at least claims to be heat-moldalble). Don't try to bake your skates at home. I've seen a pair that someone melted in their oven--not only was it ugly, but they ruined the batch of cookies they were trying to bake at the same time. Odds are that you're going to get your skates too hot and ruin them, or not hot enough and waste your time. Buy your skates somewhere that fits you properly and have them baked there. Any shop worth their salt offers a free heat-fit with skate purchase. Rocket Skate offers that and lifetime boot punching. (I had a customer a couple weeks ago who would have spent about $180 on skate fitting alone if they hadn't bought their skates from me).
Punching and heat-molding aren't going to complete the break-in process for you. However, they will knock a great deal of time off the process. You should still expect at least 4 or 5 hours of skating before the boots move from mildly annoying to somewhat comfortable.
Holder and RunnerPretty much every brand of skate has their own blade holder and runner. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but they are all slightly different. Graf Cobra Holders have the most aggressive forward pitch of any brand on the market today while Bauer's TUUK Lightspeed puts the player back on their heels more than its competitors. CCM/Reebok products fall right in the middle. Runners vary as well with different rockers. Rocker describes the average radius of the curve on the bottom of the blade from toe to heel. The three major brands on the market all use different rockers: Bauer - 9-foot, CCM 10-foot, Graf 11-foot.
The rocker isn't as big a deal for most skaters, but expect the performance of your skates to vary slightly with a rocker change. A longer rocker is going to glide better. A shorter one will turn and accelerate faster. None of these rocker lengths offer significant advantages or disadvantages. If you're currently the slowest thing on ice, switching from an 9-foot rocker to an 11-foot rocker isn't going to suddenly turn you into Marian Gaborik.
Insoles can make a huge difference
|Sole custom insoles - $39 with|
heat molding & adjustments
Shock Doctor insoles - $25 at Rocket Skate. These are a nice upgrade from stock insoles.
Alignment IssuesAlignment isn't a common problem with hockey skates. About one pair of skates out of every 20 to 30 has the blade mounted improperly. Further the vast majority of skates that need corrections are the cheapest models. Still, once in a while even a skate that is set up properly might cause alignment issues for players with um . . . unique feet (that's my nice way of calling your feet freakishly deformed).
A blade that's out of alignment can cause several issues: supination, pronation or yawing (slipping sideways).
If you're experiencing any of these issues you might need your blade adjusted. However in hockey it's always important to put at least 5 hours on the new skates before jumping to this conclusion. If you have serious concerns after you've put some hours on the skates, it's best if the skate technician can observe you skating.
Most shops will look at you like you have carrots in your ears if you walk in talking about needing a blade alignment on your new hockey skates. I've been doing blade alignments for more than ten years. If you have an alignment issue I haven't fixed in the past I would be amazed beyond words.
Bottom lineBreaking in a good pair of skates is probably the most unpleasant thing about skating. Keep plugging away at it and they will get more comfortable. Most skates will take at LEAST 5 hours of skating, but the time frame may be significantly longer with a skater's skill level, aggressiveness during break-in and weight. I generally recommend minimal boot punching and fitting until a couple hours of break-in are completed, but if you are having severe pain, you should have your skates worked on sooner than that.
Hopefully understanding better what's going on when you are skating in a new pair can contribute to a less agonizing experience.
Stay in the loop with other cool people who know what's happening by liking us on facebook -www.facebook.com/rocketskate
Find us on the web at www.rocketskate.net
Find us on the web at www.rocketskate.net
© 2013 Scott Noble
All Rights reserved. Reproduction of this article in whole or part is strictly prohibited without the author's prior express written permission.