Figure skates versus hockey skates
February 10, 2020 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Hi! I have a preschooler and I want to buy him ice skates next year (he will be 4). Should I get figure skates or hockey skates?

I'm a woman, and grew up skating semi-regularly. I always wore figure skates. I wonder what are the pros or cons about getting figure skates versus "hockey" skates for young kids. I have no concerns about my son wearing figure skates, I only care if there's some advantage one way or the other in terms of ease of use (for kid or parent!).

FYI we will be buying used skates but will be sure it get them sharpened. Thanks!
posted by Bebo to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The only con I see is when I watch young women skating, some will use the picks to propel themselves forwards. I took figure skating and very early on we were trained to push off with the side of the blade.
posted by TORunner at 9:52 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]

I used figure skates as a boy, but as I got older, it became difficult to find them in my size (and I didn't adapt well to hockey skates). It might not be as much of a problem any more if you can shop online for skates.
posted by eruonna at 10:16 AM on February 10

Depends why he would want the skates and how you plan to use them. If it’s just for recreational skating I would go with figure skates. If he’s going to want to use them ASAP to play hockey (the 5 YO version, cute), go with hockey skates. Figure skates provide more stability overall, although hockey skates are definitely more structured around the ankle if he’s wobbly there.

I had no trouble moving from figure skates to hockey skates and back as a 10-12 year old who both figure skated and played hockey. The skates you pick now aren’t a lifetime commitment.
posted by sallybrown at 10:23 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]

What I've done with my daughter, and feel is the best path forward, is to start with hockey style skates. It allows for learning how to propel forward without any external helpers as well as work on balance (hockey skates are not flat bottomed). Once proper skating techniques were established, we switched over to figure skates as that is the direction she wanted to go once confident.
posted by wile e at 11:01 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]

I live in Ottawa, where it seems like pretty well everyone skates and everyone puts their kids in skating classes. What you want, unless your kid is going to get into hockey or figure skating, is a pair of recreational skates. From what I have seen, very few people seem to go for figure skate blades anymore. Recreational skates usually have hockey-style blades and a more comfortable shoe instead of stiff leather (more like a roller blade shoe). For little kids, they will probably have a hard plastic shell with a boot inside that clip closed instead of lacing up. For older kids, you can get ones with a combination of laces and velcro, or even better, BOA-system. Those are awesome, as all the kid has to do is turn the knob to tighten the skates, and they can put them on themselves (I use a pair of adult skates with those, and I will never go back to laces).
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:27 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]

I think it’s easier to go from figure to hockey if you want to change. And hockey skates tire you out more quickly. I started with figure and I’m glad I did.
posted by Sterros at 6:19 PM on February 10

We rented both styles at a local skating rink over two sessions and my kid liked figure skates better. (He likes to skate but has no interest in any particular skating-based sport.) If you have a rink, this is a relatively low-investment way of test driving.
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:47 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

I've never noticed much difference. When I rent I switch back and forth depending on what is available in my size and in good condition.

But I'm definitely an amateur skater. I could definitely imagine that if you knew what you were doing, you'd care more.

If you will enroll your son in classes, observe one and see what others are doing. The one boy in figure skates is going to get bullied, possibly with the coach's approval.

Otherwise, let your son pick. He'll need a new pair soon enough anyway, right? So it's not a hard decision to undo.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 6:06 AM on February 11

I found hockey skates more attractive because once youve got the balance part down adding moves like turning around is alot easier because of the curved blades. The learning curve to do more than skate around the rink in one direction felt much steeper in figure skates.
posted by WeekendJen at 5:44 AM on February 14

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