Hockey Skates vs Figure Skates | What Are The Differences?

Ice skating has come a long way since the Scandinavians first came up with the idea of using sharp animal bones attached to their boots to glide across frozen lakes. Today, ice sports such as hockey and figure skating have evolved into a competitive level that appeals to tons of people. Jumping from that, learning to ice skate is an exciting chance to join the hype as a hockey player or figure skater. Who knows, there might be a spot at the professional level!

But, before you get to that, first things first. Get your first pair of ice skates. Figure skating boots and hockey skating boots both allow a smooth glide over ice, but that is as far as it goes for similarities. So let’s take a closer look as we compare hockey skates vs figure skates.

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Figure Skates

A pair of figure skates: hockey skates vs figure skates

Figure skates have a well-rounded build perfect for balancing and precise movements, making them the go-to choice for those looking to learn tricks such as spins and jumps.

Figure Skating For Beginners

Choosing figure skates as your beginner pair is a popular choice to get the feel of maneuvering on ice and learning to balance properly. Since they are made using numerous layers of leather, they hug your foot and ankle more closely for added support. This works well to help skaters execute more precise movements such as spins and jumps, helping maintain good foot positioning amid various movements. 

Here is a rundown of the benefits of figure skates for beginners:

  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Serrated picks (toe picks)
  • Precise maneuvering 

Hockey Skates

An ice hockey skate: hockey skates vs figure skates

Ice hockey skates are built for speed. Since hockey skates are built for speed, they are more agile and can easily move quickly over ice. That agility allows players to get to the puck quicker and perform better.

Hockey Skates For Beginners

While ice hockey skates are built for speed, they lack the flexibility of figure skates. As a result, players using ice hockey skates must learn to perform turns and stops that are much more difficult to execute. Choosing hockey skates as your beginner pair is ideal for a player looking to learn to skate faster and play more aggressively. In addition, hockey skates are great for those looking to learn how to pick up and pass the puck. 

Here are the benefits of getting the right ice hockey skates for beginners:

  • Speed and agility
  • Ability to learn how to pick up and pass the puck

You may also like: How to lace hockey skates

What To Look For In Beginner Ice Skates

Aside from choosing the right type of ice skate to begin learning with, it is also necessary to know the basic fitting requirements. This not only gives beginners more control and balance while learning, but it also goes a long way in making sure they are comfortable with the fit and feel of the boot while on ice.

While it is tempting to get one size larger for children earning how to skate so they can grow into them, it is not ideal. Ice skates that are too large will affect maneuverability and balance, while those that are too small will cause discomfort and pain if used for long periods of time. 

Size and fit are the number one consideration when learning basic skating skills, but make sure to consider these as well:

Hockey Skate Blades Vs Figure Skate Blades

Ice hockey skates carve up the ice

A hockey skate blade is built for high speeds. They are slightly curved like a rocker and shorter in length than figure skate blades. Hockey blades do not have a toe pick and are secured to the boot with durable light plastic to reinforce the thin blade.

On the other hand, figure skating blades are made for precision moves, have a longer blade, and are secured to the boot with strong bolts. In order to perform precision moves, the serrated edge toe pick allows a skater to execute jumps with good height for full rotations. This toe pick and longer blade length are not optimal for the quick turns and fast acceleration that hockey blades can provide.

Of course, it goes without saying one that keeping your blades sharp is key to performance, so be sure to take a look at out post about the best skate blade sharpening tools.

Different Boot Material

Just as the blades are designed to help skaters perform in a different manner, the boot material also differs between hockey skates and figure skates. The design of the boot is constructed to help skaters perform optimally. 

Hockey skates are designed to allow players to move quickly and safely during matches. The boots are specially designed to protect the player’s ankle when hit full force with a hockey stick or puck while they are skating. The boot itself is stiff and made with hard materials, offering up less flexibility in favour of ankle protection against playing elements. 

The figure skate boot is designed to provide support to the skater.  The design of the boot helps to improve foot control so as to perform different movements. Figure skates are made with leather, tightly fitted around the ankle and feet. The boot’s flexibility is also designed to help the skater perform precise setups and checks during spinning and jumping without losing balance. Heels can be used to jump higher. Skaters use different parts of the foot to perform different moves. 


Which ice skate is easiest for beginners?

Choosing the easier skate depends mainly on preference. Beginners who want to learn quick stops and attain high speeds on ice will find hockey skates easier to start with. Those looking to get accustomed to spins, jumps, and form will find it easier to learn balance and precision using figure skates.

Each skate has beginner variants to explore, so those who are just starting can choose that before getting more professional variants.

How do I know which size skate to get?

Ideally, the beginner skates chosen should be an exact fit. This allows for better control and balance while learning. An ice skate that is too large offers up less foot control and can also lead to injury. Those that are too small will be very uncomfortable when used for long periods. Your chosen beginner ice skate should be the exact size of our foot for better maneuverability and safety as well.

Which skate is easier to maintain?

Both hockey and figure skates need the same amount of care to maintain. The main point here is to have the right blade care. Get yourself a good pair of soakers and guards to prevent quick dulling of blades and ensure you do not run into rust and corrosion.

Should I enroll my child in beginner skating lessons?

If your child shows comfort in learning the basics with you or by themselves, lessons are not necessary right away. If they seem very uneasy and you think they need extra professional guidance, then yes, lessons are a great way to get them comfortable. However, professional lessons and training are highly recommended once they start getting into the more advanced figure skating and hockey levels.

Which brands are the safest for beginners?

If you are looking to invest in a good pair of hockey or ice skates, here are our top 3 for each:



Hockey skates vs figure skates final thoughts

Whether you begin with hockey skates or figure skates to start ice skating, the important thing is to get comfortable balancing yourself on blades on ice. It’s easy to switch from one type to another until you find which is more comfortable for your style. Don’t be afraid to try both, as figure and hockey skating have pros and cons. It’s a new experience that is worth exploring!

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