How to Properly Fit Hockey Skates – Hockey Skate Fitting Guide

Written by Doug Sears Jr

I am a former LHS (local hockey shop) employee and have fit thousands of pairs of skates. In this article I will address everything you need to know about getting a properly fitting pair of hockey skates. A poorly fitting pair of skates can impair your skating ability, cause foot pain, blisters and a lot of frustration.

How to get a Good Fitting for Hockey Skates

hockey-skate-fittingHockey Skate Sizes – What size hockey skate should you wear?

If the LHS employee asks you what your skate size is and then gets that size for you, that is a red flag. He should basically ignore your assumption of your size, and measure you.

Hockey skates are typically 1-2 sizes lower than the shoe size you wear. However there are differences between different skate companies. (I wear a size 11 or 12 shoe depending on the company, and my skate size is 10D in Bauer)

What are the different skate sizes and fits?

Skates have many different fitting characteristics so if the LHS employee tries to sell you the first skate you try on, that’s another red flag. When fitting a skate you are looking for more than just the right size, skates should be fitted according tohockey-skate-width-chart

  • Skate size
  • Skate width
  • Depth / arch
  • Your weight
  • Your skating ability/ skating style / playing level

Different lines from different skate companies will offer different fits. So lets say you are a size 8, a size 8 in Bauer Vapor might fight you great, but a size 8 in Easton might not feel right. This is because of differences in the overall width of the skate, width of the toe, depth of the skate, volume in the heel pocket, etc.

What Skate Will Fit Your Feet?

hockey-skate-fit-comparisonRemember each of the models shown above also come in sizes C, D, E or EE. However a Bauer Nexus 8D would be a looser fit than a Bauer Supreme 8D

How to Test if your Skates fit Properly

There are two popular tests when it comes to fitting hockey skates: the pencil test, and the finger test.

hockey-skate-pencilWith the pencil test you will put on your skates, but do not tie them up. Pull the tongue out and then take a pencil or pen and place it across the eyelets, about three eyelets down.

If the pen / pencil lies flat without rocking back and forth on your foot then the skate has good depth. If the pen / pencil hits your foot without touching both eyelets then the skate is too shallow for you.

hockey-skate-fit-testThe finger test will ensure your skates are the right size, and that you have the right ankle fit. Lace the skate up tight as if you are going to play hockey. Lean forward and bend your knees (like you are in the hockey stance).

Now reach back to the heel of the skate and see how much of a gap there is between your heel and the skate. If you can slide more than one finger between your heel and the skate (not the tendon and skate) then the skate is not locking your ankle / heel into place and the fit is not suitable for you. For children who are still growing a 1 finger gap is fine, if you are an adult and no longer growing you can go for a bit of a snugger fit. Skates that are too loose can cause blisters, foot pain, and impair your skating ability.

Where Should my Toes Touch on my Skates


The Toe Brush Test –  Another popular way to tell if the skates are the proper size is where your toes lie in the skates. With your skates laced up, stand up straight in the skates, in this stance your toes should just brush the toe cap inside the skates. Now get into an athletic stance (the hockey stance) in this stance your heel should lock more into place and your toes should not be rubbing on the toe cap anymore.

proper-fitting-hockey-skateSkate Stiffness – Give your Skates a Squeeze

The stiffness of your skates is also important when considering the right fit. Some skates are designed with very stiff boots and some are designed with less stiff boots. Typically stiffer boots are recommended for more experienced hockey players, and heavier players. The stiffer the boot, the more ankle support and energy transfer you will get, however stiffness can compromise mobility in some cases.

hockey skate stiffness testNewer hockey players should probably not get the stiffest boots available as they may not be aggressive enough in their skating to properly break the skates in and get the full advantage. However new players should not buy skates with very little stiffness as these skates will not provide enough support for playing hockey on a regular basis.

To determine the stiffness, give your skates a squeeze. Hold the skate below the tendon guard and squeeze the sides together. If it folds in easily these skates are too weak for hockey. If there is some good resistance then they are good for a newer hockey player, and if they are very stiff they are suitable for experienced players.

Get Your Skates Baked

bake-hockey-skatesWhen new players hear about baking skates they might think it’s a bit crazy, but high end skates are designed to be heat molded to fit your feet. While you can bake them yourself at home (only if you know what you are doing) the best time to get your skates baked is at the store before your purchase them.

How does skate baking work?

After you find a comfortable pair of skates that fits you properly the store associate will take your pair of skates and put them into a special oven for a few minutes. When the skate is warm it is ready to be put on your feet. You gently lace the skate up while sitting in a chair and then sit for about 10 minutes while the skates cool and form fit to your foot. This process gives your skate a custom fitted mold to really lock your foot into place and give you the most comfortable experience.

Is it Normal for my Feet to Hurt after Skating?

hockey-skate-foot-painWhen you first skate in your new skates, yes, it is normal for there to be a little discomfort. It is normal to get the odd blister, or a bit of a pain. This discomfort should only affect you the first few times you use your skates. This is the normal process of breaking in a new pair of skates. After your skates are broken in you should be able to skate in them without any pain or blisters.

What happens if your feet hurt every time you skate in them

If you’ve skated 10+ times and your skates still hurt your feet then there is a problem. Your skates may not fit you properly, or you may have unique feet that need special attention. You can customize your skates by getting custom insoles (superfeet are popular), or by taking them to a pro shop to get them “punched”. Lets say you have extra wide ankles, you can get the sides of your skates punched to give you some more room.

 Buying Skates Online vs In Stores

hockey-skates-storesIf you are a new player it’s a good idea to buy your skates in the stores. A good employee can help you find the right fitting skate for your foot (although I was once talked into buying a pair of skates that were not the right fit for me, I suspect the store was trying to sell a certain brand to clear out stock). After reading this article you should have a good idea of what you need, now it’s up to the employee to help you find it.

If you decide to buy online you should always look for a good return policy. If you find a great deal, make sure the skates still are covered under the return policy. This way you can buy the skates, try them on, and if they don’t fit properly you can still return them.

Where to Buy Hockey Skates

In storesbest hockey equipment stores (some of the major stores, ask around your rink for stores in your area)

  • Source for Sports (Canada Only)
  • Pro Hockey Life (Canada Only)
  • National Sports (Ontario only)
  • Canadian Tire (that’s obvious)
  • Total Hockey (USA only)
  • Your local sports store (Sometimes the local shops have great knowledge and customer service)
  • Play it again sports (New and Used equipment Canada and USA)


Learn to Play Hockey Online – Join The Pond for easy to follow video courses, challenges, and a private social group to quickly improve your hockey skills at home

How to Fit Hockey Skates Video

This one goes into a little more detail

Huge thanks to Doug Sears Jr, a former employee at a hockey shop and member of reddit.com/r/hockeyplayers for providing the meat of the information in this article! (with some additions from me Coach Jeremy)

Coach Jeremy


  1. This is exactly the help and guidance i was looking for.
    thank you for your help.
    good day

  2. Does this advice work with goalie skates too.
    I have a wide foot at the front, a high arch and narrow heel/tendon area. It is tough finding something comfortable. I can’t stand having cramped toes therefore have to settle for loose ankle fit. Is there anyway to fill in the area beside the tendon?

  3. After a number of skates on the ice with new skates, my son has a sore bulge on the front of his leg just above the ankle. Do you have any idea what would be going on with his skate. never experienced this before

    • Bumps are common with people who skate a lot. Although I’m not sure how they develop, if you look at a power skating instructor they will have strange bumps on their feet or ankles

    • Does it look like this? https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153472614040546&l=3f2e53c3b1 If so, it’s a form of a lace bite (but not nearly as painful as other types of lace bites). It could be caused by various reasons. In my case, most likely because my ankles are too small for the skate.

      If this is what your son has, i have several suggestions. I hope one of them works.

      you could try skipping an eyelet to see if it helps too. But note that any time you skip an eyelet, you may be allowing the skates to break down more quickly. https://youtu.be/TePrbT8gk6M

      Another thing I did that was successful is to use two laces on each skate. Use one to lace up the top of the foot (tightly). And at the slightest incline into the ankle, use another lace (loosely). Make sure to tuck the bottom laces under the top laces securely – you do not want your kid to step on them while skating.

      I’ve used these and didn’t find them helpful. http://www.bungapads.com/bunga-lace-bite-preventer-lb.html
      I used these, and they eliminated the pain/pressure even though the pads go on the side, not on top of the painful spot. http://www.bungapads.com/malleolar-sleeve.html No noticeable negative impact on skating, although it depends on the skating habit of each person.

      Also the skates. I developed these bumps on Bauer Supreme, aggravated it on Bauer Vapour and Graf 301, and eliminated them in custom Graf G70 and off-the-shelf G9035.

      I now have a permanent bump where the skin lost sensation. But there is no other negative effects. (You also see the heel spur in the photo, caused by an ill-fitting skate. That’s more annoying.)

  4. Hey Jeremy, I just got my skates sharpened a few weeks back. I told the kid to give me a 1/2. When I stepped on the ice I felt like they were biting way too much and I was getting a ton of chatter on turns and stopping was harder than usual. I’m a heavier player around 250 and I’ve been playing about 5 years now. You think I should give 1/2 another try with another shop/attendant or move my ROH towards more glide?

    • Giving it another try wouldn’t hurt, but maybe a different hollow with more glide would be better for you

  5. I wear a size 7 youth and have size 7.5 bauer supreme 160s. my toes feel like i have a lot of space in the toe cap area. are these skates way too big for me??

  6. I broke my foot (Outside metatarsal) several years ago and it causes me nothing but grief when I skate. I would love nothing more than to be able to throw on a nice set of skates that don’t cause me issues. Any suggestions?

  7. I have had my skates for about a month now and they still hurt when I skate with them 2-3 times a week. I find they hurt my heel a lot when i skate in them. They are CCM Jetspeed 260s. Do you have any advice. Good article by the way.

  8. There’s just something fundamentally different about skates now compared to that when I was a boy. I can’t put my finger on it, but some obvious changes are the stiffer material that skates are now made from, as well as the lessened amount of material that is now at the back of the skate.

  9. I had old U + Pro Skates from 2010/11 CCM line up with the rocket runner on the skates. I loved them (felt I could get great speed) and used them for 4 years the boot separated and the tongue fell completely out. I wanted to stick with CCM but I didn’t know which skates replaced the U plus line. So I decided to get a pair of Bauer Nexus 600s & I went on the ice today for the first time after baking them and I felt like I had bricks on my feet. They were very stiff it was very very difficult to turn as the skates maybe were too heavy. I could skate very well going straight but on turns I felt wobbly I could also feel the vibration of the uncut ice after the 3rd period which made it difficult to skate. Would you suggest I keep these skates and try and break them in (as this may be normal for new skates) or maybe going back to a CCM line and if so do you know which line resembles the old U plus pro skates the best.

  10. Hey! I am just getting into skating and need a little help as far as skates go. I have a pair of the CCM Tacks 3052 size 12 EE width. I’m not a very talented skater by no means but something feels weird when I try to skate in them. I’m not sure what it is. My new self diagnosis is that I am flat footed and the arch of the skates is acting against me. I have a goal to skate smoothly before the end of January so if anyone could help I would definitely appreciate it.

  11. I wore CCM vector pros 9.5 E width as a kid playing JR A, Im wearing a bauer surpreme 180 size 9 EE, just doesnt feel the same when i skate. my foot width is 4 inches and my length is around 11, should i be in a D width instead?

  12. When baking a new skate, is it best to bake it with the new footbed (superfeet) in the boot? or bake it and put the new footbed in after the initial bake?

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