Shoulders-down image of a woman in a grey sweater standing on an ice rink with a pair of white figure skates hanging over her shoulder

Ice skating in the off-season? Yes, you can! At indoor rinks around the country, families can enjoy this all-Canadian pastime year-round. These ice skating essentials can help you and the family enjoy this indoor experience as you join in the fun!

The snow may have melted, but at indoor rinks coast to coast, ice skating is still alive and well.

Whether you’re introducing your child to ice skating, looking to improve your own hockey or figure skating skills or you’re just excited about ice time as a fun, healthy activity the whole family can enjoy to keep moving, here are the ice skating essentials you need to get skating.

Ice Skating 101

Ice Skating 101

Types of skates

Types of skates

When buying hockey skates, opt for a snug-fitting skate as this helps make it easier to execute quick stops, fast starts and lateral skating moves. Protection-wise, hockey skates should have a sturdy nylon boot to shield your feet from pucks and sticks. Also, the back of the boot should be solid to help support your ankles.

Hockey skates for forwards are generally lighter to help provide a speed advantage, while skates for defencemen have more padding for blocking shots. Goalie skates are specially designed to help protect toes and allow for easier side-to-side movement.

CCM 2092 Senior Hockey Skates

Get ahead of the game with the CCM Tacks 2092 skate. With its durable outer shell, enhanced foot support and overall comfort, the Tacks 2092 is designed for players looking for that extra jump right out of the gate.

A non-replaceable stainless steel blade with elevated heel holder helps offer greater strides and edge work.

As with hockey skates, figure skates should fit snugly and help provide proper ankle support. Figure skate blades are usually longer than hockey skate blades and feature a toe pick used when performing spins and jumps. Also, figure-skate boots are generally made of flexible leather to permit the skater to bend deeply at the knees.

In choosing a pair of figure skates, think about the kind of skating you’ll be doing. The main types of figure skating are freestyle, synchronized and ice dancing. Each type requires a slightly different blade and boot.

Schwinn Women’s Figure Skate

You can practise twirling on the ice and show the kids your moves with these classic white Schwinn figure skates.

Schwinn Women's Figure Skate

A proper-fitting skate ensures safety and comfort and is essential for improving your child’s skating skills. Properly fitted skates reduce the risk of your child falling on the ice and suffering an injury. Fewer falls mean they’re less likely to get discouraged.

Whether they’re skating for fun, playing hockey or figure skating, kids need snug-fitting skates to perform various techniques and improve their skills. While it can be tempting to buy oversized skates for kids to grow into as a means of saving money, you’re better off choosing inexpensive skates and keeping pace with their growing foot size.

You could also purchase adjustable skates that are engineered to accommodate a few sizes as your child grows.

Schwinn Adjustable Skate – Black

Help keep kids warm and comfortable with these adjustable Schwinn skates. They are designed to adjust to children’s feet as they grow. These skates are perfect for recreational skating but have a cool hockey look.

The tool-free adjustability makes these skates easy to adjust (through four sizes!) as little feet grow. For sizes 3-6 (Youth).

Schwinn Adjustable Skate - Black

Skating accessories

Skating accessories

Like most things, skate blades need to be maintained to work their best. When your skates lose their edge, you can get them sharpened at a sports specialty store or the pro shop at the arena where you skate.

Another option is to pick up a hand skate sharpener to maintain your blades in between professional sharpenings. There’s a bit of technique involved so ask your local pro shop for direction before attempting to sharpen skates yourself.

TOPINCN portable ice skate blade sharpener shown used on a hockey skate blade

Blades can be easily damaged or dulled, so it’s a good idea to transport your skates in a protective bag such as a skate bag. These bags have handles for easy carrying and some even come in the shape of your skates.

If you skate just for fun or figure skate, a skate bag should be all you need to carry your skates. Hockey players will need a larger hockey bag to carry all of their equipment.

Hockey Canada 30″ Hockey Equipment Bag

This bag by Hockey Canada is designed to be tough enough to handle skating gear as you travel back and forth between rinks.

It is made from heavy-duty water-resistant polyester and has durable two-way nylon zippers for easier access.

Hockey Canada 30

3

Skate trainers

Skate trainers are used to assist those just learning how to skate. Similar to a walker, they give new skaters something stable to grasp as they learn to balance on their skates.

Skate trainers are lightweight and often foldable for convenient storage. Make sure you use one that’s sturdy enough to support the beginner’s body weight.

When shopping for replacement laces, be sure to check the packaging and get the right length for your skate size.

Wax laces are better than the non-wax variety for tying your skates up snug, but a good lace tightener is designed to help give your laces that extra pull for the perfect fit.

Metal lace tighteners are a bit more expensive, but they’re also more durable.

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Safety gear

Safety gear

Helmets are a must for anyone learning to skate. Young skaters, especially, must wear helmets as they tumble and fall during the learning process.

Road Warrior Protégé Deluxe Goalie Mask

Molded from plastic and featuring a chromed metal cag, the Road Warrior Protégé Deluxe Street Hockey Goalie Mask is designed to help provide full face protection with a pro-style look and feel. It’s also fully adjustable with a padded back head plate and five-point elastic harness system to fit most players.

Road Warrior Protégé Deluxe Goalie Mask

Elbows and knees don’t have much protecting them, leaving them very vulnerable to injury on slips and falls.

Protect your bones with elbow and knee pads, choosing ones that are strong yet lightweight. They come with stretchy velcro so you can adjust them to fit your arms and legs.

Skate blades should be covered with skate guards to prevent injury to yourself and to others. When not in use, they keep the edges sharp.

They’re also handy for walking to and from the ice on those areas not covered in a thick rubber mat.

Those playing hockey will need a pair of gloves to protect their hands, whether just from holding the stick or from other players.

They’re specially designed to be padded on the outside and up the wrist, with joints that allow you to bend and flex your fingers easily and naturally.

Skating apparel

Skating apparel

Young ones new to skating could benefit from snow pants to keep them dry and help cushion their numerous falls. Recreational skaters should wear comfortable, warm clothes that aren’t baggy.

Hockey players perform best with thermal tops and bottoms worn under their hockey gear. For figure skaters, a leotard with a skirt for a girl and athletic pants and a sweater for a boy is most appropriate.

Apparel that’s specifically designed for sports tends to feature rugged construction and moisture-wicking materials. This helps to keep you warm, dry and comfortable when on the ice.

Make sure to read the laundry instructions on the tag carefully to keep your sweatshirt and pants in good condition for as long as possible.

George Boys’ Fleece Jogger

Your skate enthusiast can learn to glide on the ice in comfort with this cotton-polyester-blend jogger by George.

It features an elasticized waist for a relaxed fit.

George Boys' Fleece Jogger

Add an extra layer of warmth with thermal underwear, also known as long johns. They should be thin and form-fitting to insulate you as best as possible for those chilly moments when you’re not skating up a storm.

Feet can get cold when skating, especially on outdoor ice rinks. Socks should provide proper insulation and help wick away moisture from the skin.

Ladies Pathfinder by Kodiak 2-Pack Thermal Cotton Socks

Help keep feet warm and cozy so you can enjoy longer ice time with thermal socks like these pretty-in-pink beauties by Kodiak.

Heavyweight cotton fibers insulate against the cold, while spandex helps keep socks in place.

Ladies Pathfinder by Kodiak 2-Pack Thermal Cotton Socks

When it comes to ice skating essentials, there’s more to the sport than just skates. Having the right gear and accessories is key to a safe, comfortable family outing to the local indoor rink.

When is the best age to introduce kids to skating? Karen De Vito, a professional skating coach, tells Today’s Parent that kids are ready to start on skates somewhere between the ages of three and five.

Be patient, she cautions parents. “It’s a whole new environment, new equipment and new skill set,” De Vito explains. “It can take quite a while for children to start to feel confident.”