When Should You Learn to Tie Your Own Skates

The most important part of lacing skates is the area where the foot and ankle bends

The most important part of lacing skates is the area where the foot and ankle bends

Skaters tying their own skates may seem like a stressful and daunting challenge as well. However, I can assure you that it is not as bad as it may seem. Take it from me who struggled with tying my own skates and having my mom do it for me for five years until I was ten yrs old! I always liked my skates super tight, and as a child I never believed I had the strength in my fingers to tie them to my satisfaction. However after watching my mom do it at every session and practicing at home, I eventually mastered it on my own. Now I won’t even let my mom touch my skates! It is important not to expect your child to learn immediately because it is a gradual process that will take much time and practice. By following the instructions below and constantly practicing, all skaters will eventually have the confidence and capability of tying his/her own skates. However, it is important to remember that skaters definitely do not need to tie their own skates right away. Parents should be in charge of tying skates until their child is old enough, strong enough, and comfortable enough on the ice.

Proper Blade Care

It is important to take good care of ice skates, especially when you move from rental skates to your own pair.  Skate blades are one of the most important components of the skates as it affects your speed and balance and the precision of your jumps, spins and turns.  You should always wear skate guards when you are walking in your skates around the rink and use skating soakers once you've taken off your skates and dried them ready to be packed away. 

My skating guards for my freestyle figure skates and ice dance skates

My skating guards for my freestyle figure skates and ice dance skates

Your blades must be kept dry, clean and safe to prevent any damage. You want to make sure your blades are protected from rocks, metal, cement or wood because they can result in nicks and scratches on your blades.  Once your blades are damaged, it will result in uneven skating and negatively impact your performance. To prevent this from happening, you should buy skate guards from any local skate shop or online. A recommended brand would be Rockerz which is what I have and I customized my own guards with different colors.  Unless you're on the ice, skate guards should always be worn.  The guards will keep your blades shielded and protected. One important thing to keep in mind when it comes to your skate guards is to take them off when you are about to get on the ice. If you forget to take off your guards, it will be impossible for you to stand on the ice.  Your skates will slide from under you and you will crash hard onto the ice.  Although it's the funniest thing to see, it's quite embarrassing for the person who fell and he/she looks like such an idiot; however, it's bound to happen because we all do it at least once in our lives.  When you take the guards off , make sure you carry them with you onto the ice so that you can put them back on the moment you get off the ice.  To maintain your guards, you should often clean out the insides because they accumulate dirt and grit over time which can be abrasive to your blades.

My soakers are always on my skates when I'm not on ice and they keep my blades dry and protected

My soakers are always on my skates when I'm not on ice and they keep my blades dry and protected

When you're finished skating, you should quickly use a clean absorbent towel to wipe the blades dry to get rid of excess water. Water can lead to rust and deterioration of the metal and once your blades have rusted, it can never hold an edge again. So, it is extremely important to keep your blades dry and avoid water damage. You should definitely invest in skating soakers because they're made of terry cloth and are the best material for keeping blades dry and protected. Even after drying your blades, it will still be wet because the metal blades will be cold and after some time, there will be more water formed from condensate due to the warmer room temperature. The soakers will draw off any remaining water and keeps the blades dry until your next skate.  There are some really cute soaker styles out there - besides different colors, there are various animal skating soakers and some even make the sounds of the animals they represent!  My soakers are just plain purple which is my favorite color.  

The better you take care of your blades, the longer they last.  Skates are an expensive investment. When you advance to higher level skating, you will buy your blades separate from your boots and the blades can cost as much as $500-$700!  So, it's wise to take good care of your skate blades.

How to Properly Tie Skates

As with any new sport, the start of Learn to Skate attracts many excited yet confused parents. If you are concerned about properly tying skates, don't worry - you're not alone. It is definitely a complicated process - they are often too tight, too loose, wrong size, etc. It is important to tie skates properly because it will affect your child’s experience on the ice. I often have to retie skates for students during the lesson and this is counterproductive because it wastes time and takes my attention away from other students. Each lesson is only 30 minutes, so in order to maximize the little time we have, all students’ skates should be tied properly before the lesson begins.

Tying the skates is extremely important in terms of providing comfort as well as ensuring the efficiency of the skates. Skates that are too loose can cause wobbliness and the risk of a twisted ankle, while skates that are too tight may prevent proper foot movement such as bending and pushing. To begin with, make sure you receive the correct size rental skate and that your foot fits snugly inside. There should be room to wiggle your toes, however not too much room that your entire foot can slide around. Begin with the laces closest to the toes and tighten them by pulling until it is secure. These laces are only meant to keep your foot in place, so they do not need to be extremely tight or constricting. Tie each lace slightly tighter than the last as you go up the boot. When you finish tightening the laces, you will reach the ankle which is the most crucial part of tying skates. The ankle requires the most support so it is important to make this as snug as possible to prevent any foot movement on the ice. After tying a secure knot on the ankle, work your way up the remainder of the boot by looping the laces around the hooks. These laces should be tight as well since they will prevent the skaters’ foot from shifting on the ice. When both skates are finished, make sure your child is capable of bending his/her knees and walking properly. There should not be room for the heel to lift while walking, but there should be room for toe movement. Listen to your child and adjust his/her skates based on how tight or loose they feel they are. As usual, the skaters’ comfort is of utmost importance.

First Day ...What Do I Wear?

Today is my very first blog entry and also the first class of a new Learn to Skate session. I'm so excited to start blogging (yet nervous too) and to meet my new students and parents (and also to have my old students/parents back with me)!  The first class is usually the craziest and most confusing, therefore it is important to arrive at the rink early so you and your child have ample time to check in, lace up your skates, layer up and meet your instructor.  Make sure you have your child come prepared to class with warm clothing.  I don't know how many students I've taught who don't wear jackets and gloves/mittens on the ice and they get so cold by the first ten minutes of lesson and lose focus and concentration and consequently, don't learn much during the rest of class. 

Wearing gloves not only keeps your child's hands warm but also provides protection in case he/she falls and we all know, falling is highly likely when learning a new skill.  I recommend buying inexpensive gloves and having more than one pair in your bag because kids seem to often lose or misplace their gloves easily.

It's also a good idea to layer clothing and have a jacket so that your child can take off when he/she starts moving a lot and his/her body temperatures get warmer.  It's best to wear clothes that your child is comfortable in and will allow him/her to easily move and stretch.  I always see one or two kids wearing jeans to class.  I highly recommend no jeans because it can be bulky and too constrictive and conforming to legs that it does not allow your child to move freely on the ice.  Also skating in wet jeans can be very uncomfortable and again, it's all about staying warm and comfortable to have a good lesson.  Sweatpants or leggings are also appropriate and I would recommend snow pants to be worn over them to protect your child from getting cold and wet when falling.  In addition to jacket(s), gloves and appropriate pants, it's important to wear thin socks.  Thin socks are better than bulky ones because it allows your child's skates to fit snug around the feet and also avoids having any potential bumps inside the skates.  Don't worry so much about your child's feet getting cold because there's ample insulation from the skates.  I also don't recommend cotton socks because the fabric absorbs moisture when your child's feet sweat so he/she will have cold and wet feet which leads to discomfort. 

A good fitting bike, ski, or hockey helmet is also highly recommended if your child is under 6 yrs of age.  Even older kids are encouraged to wear helmets, especially if it is their first time on the ice.  Forgetting any of these essential items can negatively affect your child’s experience on the ice as comfort and safety are extremely crucial aspects of skating.  So be prepared and your child will be happy and sure to have a great time learning new skills and tricks!

Wow, my first blog post and it was not super complicated at all …actually, so fun! I’m really happy I can impart my knowledge and inspire others of my skating passion and hope I can truly make a difference. Thanks for reading!