Monday, March 22, 2010

How-to: Tie Figure Skates

This guest post comes to you from Ice Coach. My blog, Ice Mom's Adventures in Figure Skating will move to IceMom.net on Saturday, April 3. Joining me in blogging will be Ice Coach, Ice Girl, and Synchro Mom. Together, we'll try to give you honest answers and occasional laughs as we look at figure skating from different perspectives. This guest post will give you a little introduction to what you might find on Ice Coach's blog.

Tying figure skates correctly is important because improperly tying skates could lead to injury and bad habits. The biggest issue of tying skates is making them tight. I have repeatedly seen new skating parents not tie skates tight enough. Their child gets on the ice; his or her ankles are falling inward and not supported at all. I also know of parents who thought they needed new skates or blades remounted because their child was having difficulty skating. When it came down to it, the solution was simply tying the skates tighter.

No socks. If you’re a competitive skater you should not be wearing socks in your skates. Socks can lead to blisters, which are no fun. What’s worse than socks? Bare feet. Bare feet lead to blisters and smelly skates. Skates should fit as snug to your foot as possible leaving little room for your foot to slide around. I recommend trouser socks; they are form- fitting and thick enough to wear multiple times without getting numerous holes. You can even get moisture wicking trouser socks.


Untie your skate all the way. (See photo above.) I have seen many people untie the first couple holes only. Make sure the laces are loose enough to easily slip your foot inside the boot. Start tightening the laces at the toe and work your way up the boot. Tie the skates tight, but not so tight they cut off your circulation. I always tie my skates as tight as I can pull and never have an issue with numb feet, and I always have enough bending room. New skates are a different story. You might want to only lace the top three hooks on new skates so you have room to bend.

No skate lace tighteners. Does anyone like these things? They seem like more of a hassle.  You can tie your skates faster and tighter by using your fingers.


Cris-cross the laces and wrap them around the fourth hook, the one closest to the lace holes. (See photo above.) I prefer wrapping them over the hook rather than under it, but you can go under to over, too.


Wrap the laces. (See photo above.) On the third hook, when you cross your laces, wrap them around each other a couple of times to keep them from slipping. Do this on the first hook as well.

Bunny ears. (See photo above) On the first hook, tie a bow. Take the bow’s right “bunny ear” and hook it around the first hook again and tighten it; do the same with the left “bunny ear.” Your skates should not slip.

Never wrap extra laces around your ankle or boot. If your laces are long enough to do this, they are too long. Buy a shorter pair. Skates should bend at the ankle; if you wrap laces around the top part of the boot it will prevent this.

Lace materials. If your laces still slip and you’re using 100% cotton blends, try a nylon/cotton blend. I personally prefer them and think they slip less. But I have others tell me that the cotton ones slip less. It just depends on what you like.

Tying your skates well will help prevent injury and is the first step to proper skating technique.

Do you have a suggestion about tying skates? Do you have problems with it? Let Ice Coach know what you're thinking in the comments! If you have other questions for Ice Coach, you can put them in the comments or e-mail her at IceCoach@IceCoach.net

As always, if you have a question for Ice Mom or the Advisory Board, please send it to me. If you have an idea for a post you'd like to see, let me know that, too. Are you an expert? Wonderful. I'm looking for figure skating experts. E-mail me if you'd like to write a guest post. icemom.diane@gmail.com 

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42 comments:

PrettyBowtie said...

I happen to have rather long laces because my hand-me-down skates came with them and I like them long because I can 'double hook' them, which I see a lot of skaters at both my rinks doing. It's where you lace them as normal to the top, tie a knot, then lace back down the hooks a second time- I feel it gives me extra pull in tightness, as well as keeping my ankle perfectly supported.

I also use a lace hook, as I used to get blisters from pulling my laces.

Xan said...

For older kids with the hand strength to tie skates themselves, that's as good a tutorial as I've seen. I would add- lace tightness is a personal preference, but if a coach thinks your boots are too loose, they're too loose (coach has safety rather than comfort in mind).

I keep the last lace-hook in America in my pocket. It's great for younger children when they need to tighten their laces and I can't get off the ice because I have a class. I hand the lace-hook to the kid and she is able to fix her skates herself.

I make all my skaters at least attempt to tie their own skates once they are 8. Moms tying their 13-year olds' skates is just embarrassing, and I won't let them do it if I happen to see it.

Finally, a tip for tying your little one's skates. Rather than kneeling in front of them or bending over, sit next to the child and put his foot on your lap. This angle will mimic tying your own shoes, so you'll get a better fit, and you'll save your back.

bethalice said...

OOPS! I still lace my newly turned 13 y/o's skates. She does the first half (up to the hooks), but can't get them as tight as she needs. Most of the problem comes from the boots being too wide. I bought her narrows, which are still a little too wide. Only other option is custom made which I prefer not to do until she is done growing.

When she takes them off, she does as you instruct and leaves them that way to air out (taking them out of the bag when she gets home). When she firsts puts a boot on, she slams her foot into the heel, tightens the skate as much as she can, slams it again, then I use the hook to tighten the instep. I double wrap the laces before starting on the hooks. Crisscross up, tie, crisscross down, then do a bow. (Boots are 2 months old and the laces stretched a lot over that time.)

She has tailor's bunions so I have to be careful not to get the area near the toes too tight, and make sure the instep is as tight as I can get it so her heel does not move.

Kate said...

This is such a timely post, as we just dealt with this on Saturday. My daughter's right ankle kept falling in, then that was pushing her legs out and down she went. LOL It was funny, but totally frustrating for her and us! When she came off the ice at the end of class, the coach suggested tightening her skates and letting her walk around in them again so he could see if it fixed the problem...yep! Now, since the skate school director/head coach tied them in the first place when he was checking the fit, we think they just loosened during the class. How do I fix that? I see you did some sort of looping thing, but our laces don't have a ton of room in them after they're laced, so I'm not sure if I can do that. Also, I don't know if I have cotton or a blend lace. How do I figure that out? She wears Riedell 121's

Thanks!

Kate said...

I also have a question about socks/tights. My daughter has tiny feet, she's a 10/10.5 and wears an 11 skate. They don't make trouser socks that small, as you probably know. I had bought her some little boys nylon knee socks to try, but the teacher didn't like that they had a seam in them. He says it's very painful, which makes sense. He suggested we just do tights all the time, but I can see her not wanting to do tights during the summer, so I was thinking you might have another suggestion.

Thanks!

PrettyBowtie said...

Kate, can I recommend Bloch knee-high ballet socks? You can order them online for $10, they come in all sizes from 3 year olds to adults and they last like mad. I can't destroy if I try! Energetiks also make excellent tights. I'd go dance tights over skating anyday.

Alice in Wonderland said...

Just last week Rinkhead and I had an heated debate over tying her own skates. She's 8, but had starting last summer and lately has lacked motivation to do it herself. I explained to her that on her 9th B-day, I cut her off, so she better start practicing again to learn how to get it tight. This post is perfect because we can review it together, the twisting at the top hooks will help with the slipping problem. She's been tying since saturday, so I hope we're on a roll!Thanks for the advice!

bethalice said...

If the skates are new, they may need re-tightening in the middle of a practice until they are broke in. Also, the laces may stretch at first. My dd's did and now they are quite long.

As for the trouser socks, I see many little girls wearing some from the junior or ladies departments. My dd just folds them over her boot to keep them from falling down.

Ice Mom said...

Hey, PrettyBowtie.

Ice Girl has two or three lace hooks, but she loses them.

She used to use the hook, but had trouble coordinating the hook pulling with lace pulling.

Now she uses her hands. I tell you, the outside edges of her palms and pinkie fingers are pretty raw from pulling on laces. No blisters, though.

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Thank you, Xan, for making your skaters tie their own laces.

Nothing irritates Ice Girl more than teens whose mothers tie their kids' skates. She, um, rants.

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Hi, bethalice.

I'm not supposed to say anything about this, but Ice Girl never reads my blog and I know you won't tell her: she has corns, bunions, and calluses.

I buy her Walgreen's brand corn cushions. (They're flex-plan deductible.) I also buy her the bigger callus cushions (Not flex-plan deductible - go figure.) she won't skate without them. (We've named her corns: Go and Away and, um, I forget the others.)

She only uses Walgreen's brand, which is good because I buy them in quantity and they're cheaper than Dr. Scholl's.

I think the cashier at Walgreen's thinks I have major foot issues!

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Hey, bethalice.

Great advice about re-tying new boots and folding over the tops of ladies' trouser socks. That folding over process will help with trailing laces, too.

V. smart.

Ice Mom

Ice Charades said...

Here's a tip you may not know of - but it only works on the nylon skate laces (for obvious reasons). If the plastic sleeve at the top (that keeps the end of your laces from fraying) comes off - take a lighter or a match to the lace and it will make a tough, burnt ball at the tip and you'll get no more fraying.

bethalice said...

Icemom- Please let me know if we are at the same competition so I can tie my dd's skates in the car. LOL! Seriously though, she cannot get them tight enough because of her narrow feet. As long as I can get them tight enough so her heel does not slip, I refuse to buy custom boots until she is done growing. She does a good job getting them tight, just not enough to keep her heel from slipping. I am NOT one to baby my children - just ask them! I am the meanest mom! :P

Ice Mom said...

Hey, bethalice.

It's not me you need to worry about when/if you're tying your kids' skates. It's Ice Girl.

Truth: Ice Girl tried and succeeded in conning Ice Coach into tying her skates for a very long time.

More truth: Ice Coach doesn't give into that nonsense anymore.

Ice Mom

Kate said...

PrettyBowTie~ Thank you! I'll look around online for them right now. It's so hard when they're young AND tiny to find the right thing.

IceMom~ I think you need a message board feature on the new site. Look at all the good info that gets shared in the comments!

jumpingbeanmom said...

My girls cannot tie them properly yet, and it makes me nuts- they are 9 and 10. My 9 yo was tying herself, but then she got much stiffer boots (working all the doubles) and cannot tie them adequately any more and I end up fixing it anyway. Are they just lame??

Ice Mom said...

Hey, Kate.

I think message boards are a great idea. My fear: I'll set them up and no one will come to discuss.

It's like throwing a party and no one comes.

Maybe I'll put up a poll and ask folks if they want/would use a message board. It would be shared among the four blogs (coach, skater, parent, synchro parent), so we'd have a lot to discuss.

Thanks for the input, Kate!

Ice Mom

Anonymous said...

Xan,

Glad you like my first post. I agree its good for older kids who can tie their own skates. I'm so happy everyone is trying to encourage their skaters to tie their own skates.

Pretty Bowtie,

Great suggestion on the ballet tights.

Kate,

I agree on the message board. Ice Mom, get to work :) Acutally we already discussed something like this. I think it everyone would use it. Right?

-Ice Coach

Ice Mom said...

I can take a hint! I'll put up a poll. If people want a message board, I'll put one in! (I was thinking maybe six months from now, but, um, two weeks? Could happen.)

Ice Mom

bethalice said...

I just assumed that we could comment on your posts (at the new site) just like we do here. Did I assume incorrectly? (Not the first time. heh heh!)

Anonymous said...

bethalice,

You will still be able to make comments on all 4 (Ice Mom, Coach, Girl and Synchro Mom) of our blogs similar to Ice Mom's now. A message board would be another way to talk back and forth on any skating topic. Not just what we post on our blog. We of course will still want you to comment on the posts :)

-Ice Coach

Ice Mom said...

Hey, bethalice!

Great question. Ice Coach is right: we can still have comments on blog posts, but there will be an area where everyone can start independent conversations, make connections, ask questions, and interact with others in figure skating about life at the rink.

It'll be more informal and flexible than a blog.

I put up the poll on this site. I'm still not sure about it, but if readers want it, I'll make one!

Ice Mom

Denise said...

When my daughter was young and had very small feet, her coach suggested we cut the feet off of a pair of old tights, a little below the knee, wear them as socks and fold the tops down over the tops of the skates if necessary. It's a great way to recycle a pair of holey tights, and it's all she ever wears now.

Anonymous said...

How tight is too tight? That's what I want to know. Sometimes I feel like I might tie them too tight, but I just got higher level skates and I'm not sure how they're supposed to feel.....Any general rules of thumb I could follow? Thanks!! :D

Anonymous said...

Kate,

Regarding your earlier question, if you don't still have the packaging its not too hard to tell. 100% cotton laces are typically thicker. The Nylon blend are thin and have a sheen to them. Take a look at the pictures for this post. Those are a Nylon blend.

-Ice Coach

Anonymous said...

Anoy,

How tight is too tight? Are your feet falling asleep? Then they are not too tight. You will know if they are. There isn't a general rule, like there is for loose skates. Like I said in the post I tie mine as tight as I can and don't have issues.
-Ice Coach

bethalice said...

I have been meaning to ask - what is the ring for?

Ice Mom said...

Bethalice: tripline.

No, no. It's for Ice Girl's Champion Cords. When she can find them, they hook into the ring.

The real question: what's a Champion Cord? No idea.

Better question: where are her Champion Cords? No idea.

Worse question: how much do Champion Cords cost? $50 for a pair

If you see Ice Girl's first pair of Champion Cords, please let me know. If you see one-half of her new set of Champion Cords, let me know.

This is why tripline is a much more satisfying answer.

Ice Mom

Kate said...

OK, I've searched all afternoon for Bloch dance socks to no avail. Anybody have any ideas? PrettyBowTie?

Ice Mom said...

PrettyBowtie is in Australia. You might have to look down under for the socks. Not sure, though.

Ice Mom

sk8rmom.p said...

Great topic! The post and comments are really informative!

We always end up buying shorter laces than what comes with the skates. It is just easier for DS to deal with. I would imagine that this would be the case for younger skaters learning to take care of putting on their own skates.

IceCoach likes DS's skates to be tighter around the ankle--and supportive, but not too tight on the foot area. Also keep in mind that if you are using new laces, they will stretch during the session, so it might have been tight at first, then not tight as time goes on. Usually this is only that first session as they stretch pretty quickly.

Another great tip from IceCoach is that for competitive skaters in competitions, you should have some pre-stretched laces ready to go in case of a breakage at the last minute. Probably a good idea for all level skaters who are competing. We didn't find out about this until DS reached a higher level.

DS used to tie his skates in the car on the way to the rink and didn't have any problems with them. Now he has adjusted to tying them at the rink. I think you adapt.

Anonymous said...

Ah ha. Here you go Kate. I love ebay. Auction has ended, but you can see a picture of them here.

http://cgi.ebay.com.au/BLOCH-Girls-Ballet-Socks-New-/110486351153


Ice Coach

Anonymous said...

Kate,

Here is a picture on ebay. Auction has ended tho. But at least you know what your looking for.

http://cgi.ebay.com.au/BLOCH-Girls-Ballet-Socks-New-/110486351153

Ice Coach

PrettyBowtie said...

Kate-

sorry, should have said I'm in aus. I'm not sure how commonly Bloch is stocked in the states, but I know capezio and energetiks make similar tights and offer online shopping.

If that fails, there's usually some floating around on eBay. If you're really keen I can send you some, they're cheap as chips.

Ice Mom said...

Hi, Kate. PrettyBowtie sent Ice Girl a pair of these Bloch socks. Ice Girl really likes them.

Ice Mom

Ice Mom said...

Hey skatrmom.p!

Welcome back from vacation!

Ice Girl keeps an extra pair of laces in her Zuca...until she takes them out and leaves them at home. At that moment, the laces on her boots will break.

We're never organized enough to have the laces pre-stretched. Good idea, though.

Ice Mom

sk8rmom.p said...

LOL IceMom. Before Regionals I had three pairs stretched haha. DS never cleans his bag, so the laces are still in there ;). Guess that's one of the perks of having a boy. haha.

kortney said...

Long time reader, first time commenter...

I've figure skated for 18 years (competitively, then as a coach, and now as a judge) and never, ever worn anything BUT socks. It's the only thing I feel comfortable in - I hate the feeling of nylons in my skates. Gross ;)

I remember arguing with coach and dad when I was younger that they tied my skates too tight and couldn't skate properly. Hated it, started tying my own skates, and I definitely tie them looser than the average skater. But that's what worked best for me. If your kid says they're too tight and their feet are falling asleep, sometimes (not always) it's good to listen to them.

I've also never heard of crisscrossing the laces like that and I used to discourage skaters from putting the bunny ears around the hooks - I've had them come undone that way. I double knot and pull the tights over.

Kate said...

Ok, PrettyBowTie I give up! I can't find them anywhere. I find short cotton socks, but nothing tall like we're talking about.

Would you email me? I would love to get you to send me some if you don't mind. kmwhl1@gmail.com

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kourtney

Thanks for the comment. I agree with you sometimes (not always) it's good to listen to your skater. No one else can feel their feet better then them.

After doing the bunny ears did you knot your skates, or double knot them? I think that should prevent them from coming undone. But everyone has to figure out a way that works best for them.

-Ice Coach

Ice Mom said...

You know, when I first took Ice Girl to the skate shop for her first pair of real figure skates, I stopped at the store first. Predictably, Ice Girl was wearing two different socks. (Why does she do that? Anyone?)At the store I bought the finest athletic socks they sold.

At the skate shop, the man told me that skaters shouldn't skate in cotton socks because the cotton traps foot moisture, expands, and shifts in the boot, which causes blisters. Better, he said, were nylon socks that allow the foot to move smoothly in the boot. The boot's leather will absorb any foot moisture, so I needed to make sure to open up the boot and allow it to air dry.

I'm not a skater, but Ice Girl has about a million trouser socks. Of course, none of them match...

Ice Mom