One could easily argue that hockey is the greatest sport on earth. It’s played on a giant sheet of ice and everything about the game is fast — the shots, the pace, the players. Hockey jargon alone is a thing of beauty. As a kid, there’s nothing like the joy of learning to lace hockey skates and hitting the ice for the first time.
But hockey can also be a tough, menacing, physical game that can put a lot of wear and tear on a player’s body. Out of all the major sports — baseball, football, basketball — hockey requires the most amount of equipment that needs to be worn.
Required hockey equipment that is worn include a helmet, mouth guard, shoulder pads, elbow pads, protective gloves, heavily padded pants, an athletic protector, shin pads and skates. Goaltenders need even more. Goalies wear masks and much bulkier equipment designed to protect them from any direct hits from the puck.
But the most important part of a hockey player’s gear are their skates. Hockey skates are used to maneuver and to balance the player on the ice. The blades are specially designed to cut into the ice to provide for starting, stopping and turning. The boots are generally made from molded plastic and leather that protect a player’s feet from the puck and other players’ sticks and skates.
The Anatomy of a Hockey Skate
Below are the important parts of a hockey skate.
- Protective Tongue: The protective tongue works to protect the top of the foot from blades, pucks, stick checks and to help to limit lace bite.
- Ankle Padding: The ankle padding is meant to keep the player’s movements fluid. It keeps the ankle cushioned when transitioning through quick starts, stops and change of directions.
- Boot: The boot covers the player’s foot and prevents contact with the ice. This part of a skate is usually the most personal choice as each player has a different foot size and shape
- Toe Cap: The toe cap is a highly durable part of the skate in the front. Most collisions end with this part coming into full contact with a hard barrier. Without this, it would lead to most collisions ending with broken feet and knees.
- Heel Cup: The heel cup holds the sole securely so that when shifts in direction happen the ankle doesn’t move. During fast acceleration and hard directional changes, it holds the heel in place and prevents the heel from slipping and prevents any side to side movement.
- Blade: The blade is what makes movement on the ice possible.
How to Lace Hockey Skates
When it comes to learning how to lace hockey skates, there are several techniques that are commonly used among both professional and amateur hockey players.
Under Criss-Cross Lacing
- Insert the ends of the laces into the eyelets on the skates closest to the toe. Pull them out on both sides
- Lace up the skate by having the lace enter the eyelet from the “inside” of the eyelet and then the lace exits the eyelet and wraps over top of the boot.
- Cross the laces under each other through each eyelet in a diagonal “X” pattern.
- When you get to the very top, pull tight and tie them up the same way you tie your shoes. If your laces still hang out, you can do a double knot.
Over Criss-Cross Lacing
Follow the instructions above for Under Criss-Crossing method, but this time, run the laces first over the sides of the boot or the “outside” of the eyelet and then the lace will exit from the “inside” of the eyelet.
Skip an Eyelet
Lace up the ice skates as described above, but as you get to the top eyelets, either skip the top or second from the top eyelet and then tie your bow. This method provides for more flexion in the skate, knees and ankles and is recommended for more experienced hockey players.
How to Prevent Common Injuries
For new players, learning about the different parts of their skates is helpful for understanding player safety. Learning how to lace hockey skates is also beneficial for injury prevention. As mentioned, hockey, with all its beauty, can also put a lot of wear and tear on a player’s body — especially the feet.
Common foot injuries from hockey can include bumps, small cysts and irritation. Players can also suffer from:
- Plantar fasciitis, a form of tendonitis that affects the bottoms of the feet.
- Metatarsal stress fractures, which can cause pain on the top of the foot.
- Lace bite, which is so common that it’s sometimes referred to as “skate bite.”
Lace bite can result from irritation on the front part of the ankle due to pressure from the laces and the hockey skate’s tongue. Lace bite typically occurs when a player overtightens their laces in an effort to create a better fitting and performing skate. The tighter the player wears the skates, the more intense the pain becomes. Changing the lacing patterns of the hockey skates or padding the top of the foot inside the boot can relieve some pressure. Using Panther Teeth can also help hockey players eliminate lace bite by creating separate zones of lace tension.
What are Panther Teeth?
Panther Teeth are easy to use hinge and latch devices that clip onto a player’s hockey skates to create separate tension zones, loose or tight, throughout the entire lace section of the skate. As a player is lacing their hockey skates, Panther Teeth can be used as a lace tightener to prevent the laces from loosening thus preventing lace bite.
Panther Teeth also helps to:
- Eliminate foot pain
- Increase forward flex in the top part of your skate to improve your speed
- Set different zones of lace tension to increase performance, fit and comfort
- Panther Teeth also works with waxed or unwaxed laces, so we’ve got you covered!
For hockey players, their skates are their most important piece of equipment. So, it’s important for players to ensure a custom fit for both performance, player safety and injury prevention.
Reduce or Eliminate Lace Bite with Panther Teeth
To reduce or eliminate lace bite with Panther Teeth, place one device where the lace bite starts, and a second device where the lace bite ends. The interlocking pyramids “lock” your laces together and enable you to set the lace tension to be “snug” in the lace bite section while maintaining tighter lace tension above and below this section. This eliminates the need to overtighten your laces and can eliminate problems with lace bite.
Built to last using impact resistant polypropylene resin, Panther Teeth adapts to the unique characteristics of a player’s foot to provide a more customized fit and creates a tighter hold where it’s needed without sacrificing comfort or performance.
In a sport with as many dangers as hockey, player safety and injury prevention are just as important as skill. It’s important for new players and young athletes to learn about the components of their skates, how to lace hockey skates properly before hitting the ice and how to prevent common injuries.