How to Tie Ice Hockey Skates

Every ice skater and ice hockey player knows that blisters and other forms of foot injury suck, as they cause discomfort, pain, and absence from the ice rink. A lot of that can be prescribed to inadequately fitting skates, but you’d be surprised to know that most problems are caused by improper lacing.

So, if you just bought a new pair of ice hockey skates or any ice skates in general, you’ll need to make sure you’re lacing them properly and also breaking them in. Your feet will thank you for it, especially in the long run. This article will discuss how to lace hockey skates or figure skates for professional and recreational skating and ice hockey. But before we dive into “how,” let’s discuss “why.”

Why Is Proper Lacing Important?

Proper lacing is important

Adequate lacing ensures your safety on the ice, as it helps secure your foot and ankle while providing enough support and flexibility for maximum control. Even custom-fitted and heat-molded hockey skates can, and most likely will, cause blistering and discomfort without proper lacing.

So, if you want to squeeze every ounce of performance from your skates while avoiding a world of pain and bad blisters, continue reading through. We’ll take you through the most important things you need to know about tying your hockey skates, as well as several methods you can use to lace your skates. But before we do that, it’s essential to talk about the laces first.

Waxed Versus Non-Waxed Laces

Before you learn how to tie your hockey skates properly, it’s essential to choose the right type of lace that suits you best. If you’re new to ice hockey or skating, finding the suitable laces is more of a trial-and-error kind of thing. We generally recommend trying several pairs and lacing methods before settling on the best fit.

There are two basic types of laces you can choose from:

  • Waxed laces – this type of laces features a thin wax coating throughout their entire length, making the laces sticky and tacky. This provides a better grip on the eyelets, allowing you to lace up without providing consistent pulling pressure with your hands.

The upside of waxed laces is that they’re more effective in retaining tightness, making them an excellent option for individuals with limited experience in skating. However, they’re harder to tie because of their grip, and despite being consistent and moisture-resistant, they might leave a waxy residue on your hands.

  • Non-waxed laces ­– Non-waxed laces are your standard rope-type laces, similar to those you’d find on sneakers and shoes. However, they’re slightly thicker and more rigid, so they’re capable of withstanding the abuse they might suffer on the ice rink. Still, they’re much softer and less rigid than waxed laces, allowing you to flex your feet in your skates, making them more suitable to experienced players.

With everything said, non-waxed laces are prone to stretching and can’t retain tightness as their waxed counterparts.

How Do You Determine the Correct Size Hockey Laces?

As a general rule of thumb, you should have enough lace to pass through all the eyelets, with some left to make a double bowtie. Still, here’s a rough idea of hockey skate lace length:

  • Youth 8 to Junior 3 – 72″ long
  • Junior 3.5 to 5.5 – 84 inches
  • Adult 6 to 10 – 108 inches
  • Adult 10 to 13 – 120 inches
  • Adult 12 to 15 – 130 inches

Different Ways of Lacing Hockey Skates:

How to lace hockey skates

Now that we’ve covered the basic types and lengths of skate laces, it’s time to move onto how to lace your hockey skates. There are several different lacing methods you can choose from, depending on your skill level, playstyle, comfort, or just personal preference. Adequate lacing will make your hockey skate boots fit snuggly and tightly, especially at the ankle, without causing pain or discomfort. Here’s how you do it:

Under Criss Cross Lacing

Under crisscross, lacing is the most commonly used lacing technique, usually found in your regular, daily footwear. As such, this method is most suitable for children and beginner skaters. You can start by inserting the laces into the bottom eyelets underneath, ensuring both ends come out equally.

Run the lace diagonally from each eyelet, across the tongue, through the next eyelet on the opposite side, coming from underneath. Keep doing this until all eyelets are laced.

Over Criss Cross Lacing

This variant is the same as under crisscross lacing, except that you’re lacing the eyelets from the outside, instead of the inside, or underneath. This method shows a little more lace and provides more tightness; however, it can take longer to lace than the previous method.

Double Cross Lacing

Think of double cross lacing as a cherry on top for the previous two methods. Just lace the skates using one of the previous two techniques, but with a twist – you should cross your laces twice before lacing the final pair of eyelets instead of once. Double-crossing laces will provide exceptional ankle support while keeping the laces tight and without any slippage.

Lock Lacing

Lock lacing is an excellent lacing method if you’re a complete beginner skater or wearing slightly improperly fitting skates. It does an excellent job of locking the heel in place, but it does reduce your mobility.

To lock lace, lace up your skates like you usually would, leaving the last two pairs of eyelets open. Then, thread the lace through the second top eyelet from the inside and lace it through the adjacent top eyelet from the outside. From there, cross the laces over and run them through the loops you’ve created on both sides, tying the laces as you would tie your shoes.

Partial Lacing

Partial lacing, also known as “dropping an eyelet,” is the preferred lacing method of advanced players, as it allows more agility for tighter turns and unrestricted freedom of movement. It consists of leaving uppermost eyelets unlaced, allowing for better side-to-side movement. It’s not suitable for beginners, as it provides less stability.

Tightening your skates

Tightening skates

Once you’ve laced your skates, it’s time to tighten them and hit the ice. Start by slipping your foot in the skate so that it feels comfortable. Start tightening from the toe of your boot, going upwards, holding the laces tightly, pulling them towards you while pushing the skate towards the floor. You can check for tightness by slipping your index finger between the lace and the boot – if it barely fits, it’s tight enough.

Make sure to secure your ankles and provide them with sufficient support unless you’re dropping an eyelet. Before you end everything by tying a bow tie, make sure to wrap any excess lacing to prevent tripping. You can do this by wrapping them around the back of your skate boots, or around the ankle, shortening them to a safe length. Once everything’s done, tie a bow tie.

And that’s how you tie hockey skates.


Knowing how to tie your skates will allow you to skate safely and make the most of your skates. It will also eliminate any possible discomfort, allowing you to focus more on the game instead of the uncomfortable feeling of boots overtightening over your feet. So, pay attention to your lacing, and watch your feet blister-free, which will allow you to up your performance, and hone your hockey playing skills.

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