SHOP TALK: Getting skates to fit perfectly takes time, patience
“My skates are too tight.”
Yes, the one thing every hockey parent cringes when they hear. Right away, you start envisioning the money literally disappearing from your bank account, but before that time comes, there are a couple things to consider.
First off, are the skates really too tight? What went on during that last skate session – did something in the dressing process change or vary? If it turns out the skate is too tight, is it in the length or the width?
Before coming to Behind The Mask for this reason, (although you’re always welcome to come visit us), there are a couple quick and easy checks you can do. The biggest thing is to really question your future NHLer about what they were experiencing and what the discomfort they had was. You’ll usually get generic information like “my feet hurt,” which although sincere, might not be eye opening.
For those who have little Gretzkys who don’t articulate the issue well, ask a few pointed questions – “Where did it hurt?” or “How long has it been hurting?” and finally, “Do you think you can give it one more skate?” These answers are necessary because it will signal if the skates really do need to be replaced.
“Where did it hurt?” is a key question. If he or she answers something along the lines of “the sides of their feet,” (especially by the ball of the foot or where the boot meets the toe cap), that could be good news. If the width is tight, but the length is still holding strong, a simple stretch or punch could solve the issue and give you a few more weeks or months in the skates. The really good news here is if you bought the skates at BTM, we do that stretch or punch FOR FREE. Even if you didn’t buy them at BTM, the labor cost to do so is obviously not as bad as buying new skates.
If the answer was the tips of the toes, that could be trouble. At this point, ask a few more questions. “How long has it been hurting?” is the big one. If the child says “for a while,” you might be in trouble. If this is the first occurrence, it might just be the skates were tied in a rush or the foot wasn’t seated all the way in the back of the skate’s heel pocket. One way to know for sure is to do exactly what we would if you came in – loosen the lacing up so the foot has plenty of room to ease into the boot. Have the skater put their foot in and slide their toes as far to the front of the skate as they can, while still being comfortable. Once done, if you can get anything from a finger to even a pencil in back of their heel (between the back of the skate and the foot), odds are there’s still some room there. In this situation, see if you can get them to try one more skate in them. Really make sure the next time they go out that the foot is seated all the way to the back before lacing. If that didn’t solve the issue, then odds are we’ll be seeing you soon.
I can’t count the amount of times I’ve personally done these steps for customers and found out we can get a little more life out of the current skates. Remember the pro’s skate in the snuggest possible fit because it offers the best performance. The longer your player can get in a snug skate, the better they’ll probably be skating. But again, when that day finally comes, rest assured we’ll always do our best to get you into a skate with the most amount of growing room possible while still having a well-performing skate today.
Nick Boyarsky serves as the manager and head of team sales for the BTM Chandler location.