Lacing up ice skates is not as straight forward as one would think. When I was first learning how to skate, no one explained to me how important the fit and feel of the boot on the foot actually is. It wasn't until I bought my first pair of ice skates in the pro-shop at the local ice arena that I got a lesson in how to put on a pair of ice skates properly. That was about six months later!
First of all, the boot of an ice skate must feel like a glove. It shouldn't be loose or floppy in anyway. The boot after all, is an extension of your foot and being able to feel the ice is essential. So, to begin, first time skaters tend to wear thick heavy socks and this is okay for rental boots. Rental boots have little to no insulation at all so feet can get very cold in the rental boots. If a skater has ventured to buy their first pair of ice skates from the pro shop at their local rink, then it is better to wear thin socks because new skates do tend to have some insulation.
When putting on the skate, loosen all the laces so that the foot slides in easily. Then, once the foot is snuggly in the boot, tap the heel of the blade on the matt to push the heel back into the back of the boot. Adjust the tongue of the boot to fit squarely on top of the ankle. Then, put the foot with the boot flat on the floor and test the fit of the boot. Does boot pinch anywhere? Do the toes push up against the toe of the boot or do they rest flat and comfortable? Do the sides of the boot pinch at all or do the sides of your foot rest comfortably? Make sure the boot is comfortable on the foot before beginning to lace up the boot. This is important because if the boot is not comfortable in the boot unlaced, it won't feel better when the boot is laced up.
Next, put the skate flat on the ground (or at least the heel of the boot) and begin lacing up the boot. Be sure to make the laces lie flat as you tie up the boot. Once you get close to the ankle part of the boot, lean the ankle forward so that there is bend in the ankle, see below:
Then, begin lacing up the ankle so that there is give in the boot. This is very important because you need flex in the ankle in order have movement and to facilitate various position and moves on the ice. As you get to the top of the boot there should be hooks to wrap the laces around. While the laces should be secure, do not lace it up to tight around the top of the boot. Again, the ankle will need to flex in the boot so allow for movement.
Lastly, make sure the laces are tied in a way that will not allow them to come untied. A lace dragging on the ice is a recipe for disaster and there is no worse a fall than when a lace gets under caught under the blade.
Okay, now that your boots are on and ready to go, it's time to go have some fun!
D. Cooper has been a skating coach since 1999. She tested, competed, and has her Adult Gold and tested through her Intermediate/Novice level. She is a member of the United States Figure Skating Association and a member of the Professional Skaters Association for coaches, and she continues to actively coach students of all ages. D. Cooper is also a published author with a recently released book, "Learn How to Ice Skate, 7 Basic Moves - A Guide for the First Time Skater" which is an easy to understand, down to earth, overview of the sport for absolute beginners.
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