By Steve Kopitz
Buying Roller Hockey skates for yourself isn’t exactly a complicated process. It also doesn’t come with the hefty price tag of buying a car. But that doesn’t mean that you should just find the least expensive pair of roller hockey skates on the market and expect them to perform like the most expensive pair on the shelf. Finding a pair of skates that are right for you is really all about knowing the level of player you are, the type of skating you plan on doing, and understand the parts of the product your buying. It is the purpose of this guide to help you understand the components of roller hockey skates and help you make an educated choice when purchasing a pair of roller hockey skates.
There are two different types of roller hockey skaters. One style would be standard player skates which are for anyone who is not playing goalie and then of course goalie skates which have different features that I will explain in detail later on.
Roller hockey skates are very similar to ice hockey skates with the obvious exception being wheels as opposed to a blade. Another big difference is the boot of the skate. Roller hockey boots are typically softer as roller hockey skating involves more torque and flex and the boot needs to be able to handle it. All boots feature the traditional lace lining.
Video Tutorial: Buying Roller Hockey Skates
The liner of the boot is where you put your foot in and come in a variety of different materials. Some liners help keep that fresh feel such as the Anti-microbial liner. Another liner is brushed nylon which can be comfortable against your skin which if your like a lot of players is important as you won’t be wearing socks on your feet, so a comfortable liner is essential.
Generally speaking roller hockey skates feature an aluminum frame which is lightweight and helps give you additional speed out on the rink. Aluminum frames are also much more stiff and will not torque so they are much more efficient and durable. Most skaters have their own preference as to which frame they prefer you are much better off going with a lighter frame to help give you some additional speed while out on the rink. Some frames feature a different wheel setup that will keep you low to the ground to increase your speed while decreasing your stopping distance which is highly beneficial in roller hockey.
Like all other parts of the skate, wheels are highly important. In fact one could argue they are the most important part of the skate and should not be taken lightly. The size and hardness of the wheel are very important in roller hockey as they determine the type of speed and grip you are going to get on the playing surface. First off you are going to want a wheel that is between 76 and 80mm. Not too big and not too small. Also depending on the frame you may see a different setup instead of the skate having all the same size you may see two of the wheels being a different size. The idea behind that is to give you better stopping power to get you going in the right direction which is highly important in roller hockey as you are constantly changing direction. As for durometer you want a wheel that is soft so you get a good grip on the surface, ideally you don’t want to go over 76A. Anything over that will be too hard and you may find yourself thinking you are playing ice hockey with all the sliding you’ll be doing.
Like the wheels, the bearings are also highly important. You are looking for speed so in that case you would want a skate the features either ABEC 7 or 9 or ILQ 7 or 9 or in the Mission line of skates the Swiss LE bearings. These bearings are all the highest rated bearings. The higher the rating of the bearing allows your wheels to turn faster which in turn allows you to skate much faster.
Basically, the skill levels break down as Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced. You may also see Competitive or Recreational. Recreational would be equivalent to Beginner, or intermediate and competitive would fall under intermediate or advanced. The skill level is easy to figure out. If you just play for fun with friends then a beginner or recreational skate is the way to go. If you are a serious player then you want a more advanced skate. The more advanced skates will have lighter, stiffer boots and a higher bearing rating so you will be able to skate faster. You may also find the wheel setup to be different.
Sizing roller hockey skates is different than sizing shoes or a regular pair of inline skates. For sizing roller hockey skates it is rather easy. Simply take your shoe size and select one size down for a proper fitting roller hockey skate. For example, I wear a size 12 tennis shoe, for roller hockey I wear a size 11. For more sizing information please view our sizing guide and size charts for inline hockey skates.
Goalie Roller Hockey skates are built with a lower profile ankle cut and a shorter tongue than player’s skates. The reason for this is goalies are wearing leg pads and thus does not need the same coverage up front as a players skate. Basically, goalie skates are similar to player skates but are shorter to allow the goalie to have more mobility in the ankle. Goalie skates are built with a 5 wheel chassis, however since goalies push off with the front of their skate there are three wheels in the front and the fourth wheel is taken out. The additional spacing between the last two wheels allows the goalie to strap on his leg pads through that opening so they don’t interfere with the wheels.
In this buying guide I have given the basics and all its parts to the player roller hockey skates and the basics of the Goalie skate to provide you the buyer with the knowledge to make an educated roller hockey skate selection.