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Opinions on stiffer skates

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05-21-2012, 02:44 PM
  #1
michaelshu
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Opinions on stiffer skates

It's been bugging me for a while.
Some people say if a skate is too stiff, it will strip your skating ability if you're a beginner.
Some say stiffer skates will give better support to beginners.

Thing is, I have several friends learning to skate, and many of the taller guys have wobbly feet and they all wear the Supreme One20 which is a low end skate. Another group of the shorter guys are generally wearing the Vapor x1.0 and they skate a LOT better (more stable, decent speed, some of them can do a hockey stop already).

I did an experiment last week by duct-taping their feet and some of them improved, some of them did not. When I asked, they said it did gave them a more stable ankle but still a bit wobbly.

Now I' can't exactly remember everything my skating coach taught me 15 years ago, but I'm pretty sure I've emphasized deep knee-bends, proper stance and all the good stuff. And I did use a pretty stiff skate when I was a beginner, but my ankle was pretty strong already due to various sporting activities so I couldn't really use myself as a comparison.

What do you guys think? Should I advice the problematic guys to try and get stiffer skates?

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05-21-2012, 03:21 PM
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hockeymass
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I don't think I've ever heard anyone say stiffer skates will hinder your skating development... I've always used stiff boots (1052/Pro Tacks/U+06) and I'm a pretty good skater with strong ankles.

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05-21-2012, 03:32 PM
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steev182
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I tried some stiffer skates than what I have ($50 CCM Rapides, I didn't know they were awful, but were better than rental skates...) this weekend (just in a store) and found that my heels were held better, my ankles were given more lateral support and they didn't feel quite as wobbly. I was tempted to buy them, but something about them didn't fit well, the 5th eyelet from the top, where the skate starts to finish on the foot and start going up, seemed like my foot was too tall, so I'll need some skates that are a little deeper.

I have my 1st anniversary soon, maybe I can convince the paper that the cardboard box is made of counts and we go get some skates fitted for me? lol

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05-21-2012, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hockeymass View Post
I don't think I've ever heard anyone say stiffer skates will hinder your skating development... I've always used stiff boots (1052/Pro Tacks/U+06) and I'm a pretty good skater with strong ankles.
Actually you could find some posts here about that... it's basicly 50/50.

Did you use a stiffer boots when you were a beginner?

I do find that today's generation have weaker bodies for being less active than we used to, but I have no idea whether a stiffer boot will hinder them or not. I'm more intrigued to think they will get better support and stability compared to the softer ones.



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Originally Posted by steev182 View Post
I tried some stiffer skates than what I have ($50 CCM Rapides, I didn't know they were awful, but were better than rental skates...) this weekend (just in a store) and found that my heels were held better, my ankles were given more lateral support and they didn't feel quite as wobbly. I was tempted to buy them, but something about them didn't fit well, the 5th eyelet from the top, where the skate starts to finish on the foot and start going up, seemed like my foot was too tall, so I'll need some skates that are a little deeper.

I have my 1st anniversary soon, maybe I can convince the paper that the cardboard box is made of counts and we go get some skates fitted for me? lol
It's probably just because the boot doesn't fit your foot. You mean custom fitted? You don't really need that unless you've tried every brand out there and none seem to fit your foot... Oh, and congrats

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05-21-2012, 03:47 PM
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hockeymass
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelshu View Post
Actually you could find some posts here about that... it's basicly 50/50.

Did you use a stiffer boots when you were a beginner?

I do find that today's generation have weaker bodies for being less active than we used to, but I have no idea whether a stiffer boot will hinder them or not. I'm more intrigued to think they will get better support and stability compared to the softer ones.
Yeah, my first skates were CCM 1052s, pretty sure they were top of the line when I got them in '01 (my dad insisted on getting them for me, even though they were most definitely overkill).

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05-21-2012, 03:58 PM
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It still comes down to personal preference. You can still get higher end skates that have a lower stiffness rating (see Bauer Flexlite 4.0 non-pro). However, higher end skates tend to be stiffer becuase overall you get better performance from a stiffer skate: they are more responsive, they tend to hold up better over time, and you can take shots off of them a little easier.

I went from a Graf G3 to a CCM U+ CL last year. Even though the G3s were considered to be a pretty stiff boot when I got them, they really broke down over time. The U+ CL is by far the stiffest boot that I have ever owned. I see the most noticible difference in performance with quick directional changes. However, it should be noted that U+ CL boot is probably the best fitting boot that I have owned as well.

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05-21-2012, 04:00 PM
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michaelshu
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Well if you can afford it, why not?

Personally, I think buying low-end skates like the One20 is a waste of money, since you will eventually get better in time and will eventually need a stiffer one.. So why not invest in 2 levels above anyway...

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05-21-2012, 04:26 PM
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The biggest difference I feel between my One40's and One100's are my edges. I can make sharper and quicker turns with the One100's whereas I feel like I'm struggling with my One40's. That and if I take a shot off of the side of the boot with the One40's I feel like I broke my foot. The One40's are great for laid back pick up games where you're not going 100% but if I'm playing a game I use my One100's. However, sometimes with my One100's my feet feel "fatigued" afterward. I haven't tested them in a controlled test though so it might just be situational and mental.

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05-21-2012, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelshu View Post
It's probably just because the boot doesn't fit your foot. You mean custom fitted? You don't really need that unless you've tried every brand out there and none seem to fit your foot... Oh, and congrats
Yeah, I tried skate size 9s, I'm a US 11 in shoes. I haven't tried every brand yet though, so when I say fitted, I mean go to a Hockey Shop and get them to measure my feet and make sure I get the right skates for me, not build them - I'd be scare of how much that'd cost!

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05-21-2012, 04:59 PM
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AIREAYE
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I don't think anyone said that stiff skates will hinder development. What I said in my Skate Guide was that beginner skaters should not use stiffer skates (think X:40, One80, anything above mid end) because they cannot control their edges yet and a stiff boot will not have enough give for them to push into and learn their edges and balance. And plus, they don't need a stiff boot regardless. It's not a debate. That being said, I wouldn't put any beginner in broken down entry level skates either. There has to be SOME support. I mentioned that beginners should look at skates one to 2 levels above the very bottom, and more so for older skaters as opposed to little kids.

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05-21-2012, 07:22 PM
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I guess AIR has a point there with the softer skates "giving" a little more, so you can get away with a little wobble, whereas the stiffer skates will bite you right in the ass, if you can't control your edges.

You also said that the taller guys struggle and the smaller are better. Well I guess it's the difference in center of gravity. I am pretty small (5'8") and I picked up skating a LOT faster than any of the big guys I started out with, even after 4 years I can skate circles around them. I get pretty deep, but still my COG is simply way deeper, which helps.

I personally started out on mid level skates and I think that is a good compromise for stiffness and durability. I would not recommend the low end skates for guys wanting to play hockey, those are for people going to public skates.


Last edited by izzy3: 05-22-2012 at 03:48 AM.
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05-21-2012, 08:44 PM
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Having started on low-low end skates (Bauer Silver Edition, wtf is that?) and having just recently moved into mid-range skates (CCU U+ 09), I can say that the old Bauer's left me with some bad habits that I probably would not have developed had I started with my CCM's (such as dragging my non-lead foot on certain kinds of turns). That said, everything about my skating improved immensely once moving up to the better skate: my strides have much better power transfer, I can turn much quicker, and I can crossover with much more speed.

The speed and stability I now have with my new skates, my development was probably being held back by my old skates. Now I feel like I can play a whole lot harder with my new skates. My teammates noticed immediately how much quicker I was on my feet with my new skates.

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05-22-2012, 06:34 AM
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Are you sure all the skates fit correctly, Michael? If the fit's not right for their foot it doesn't matter how stiff the boot is, it's gonna be funky.

That being said I started on X:20's, moved to One80's and finally settled on U+12's. I'm not sure if it was because I was new to skating but I felt as I became a stronger skater my ankle would bow inward when I pushed on strong strides with my X:20's, especially on turns. That definitely went away with the stiffer One80's. Again, it could be because I didn't have as good technique when I had my X20's but I feel like I'm a much more explosive skater in the stiff boot of my U+12's. You absolutely don't lose any energy with a stiff boot. I doubt I'd ever bother going any less stiff in the future. Plus I don't think before blocking shots so the extra armor helps too.

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05-22-2012, 10:52 AM
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I think too many people confuse stiffness/flexibility with fit/don't fit. If a skate really fits you well, I don't think it can be too stiff for anyone.

If someone is wobbling on their skates, the likely culprits are bad fit and bad form.

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05-22-2012, 11:14 AM
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There has to be some terminology difference here.

There's ankle mobility and then boot stiffness. I always thought boot stiffness was more lateral, whereas ankle mobility is front-to-back.

Some skates, probably most at the NHL level, seem to do very well with very stiff skates AND taping the tongue/tendon guard for less ankle mobility. I think they do this to add power to their stride. But, lack of ankle mobility could lead to knee or hip/groin issues.

First thing that comes to mind is Marian Gaborik. He tapes the crap out of his ankles and is insanely fast. But he had nothing but groin issues for most of his career, eventually requiring surgery.

I don't know enough about that, but I do know I've never been very good without ankle mobility, regardless of skate stiffness. Even though my stride sucks and I don't have much power, I like the agility.

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05-23-2012, 07:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kr580 View Post
Are you sure all the skates fit correctly, Michael? If the fit's not right for their foot it doesn't matter how stiff the boot is, it's gonna be funky.

That being said I started on X:20's, moved to One80's and finally settled on U+12's. I'm not sure if it was because I was new to skating but I felt as I became a stronger skater my ankle would bow inward when I pushed on strong strides with my X:20's, especially on turns. That definitely went away with the stiffer One80's. Again, it could be because I didn't have as good technique when I had my X20's but I feel like I'm a much more explosive skater in the stiff boot of my U+12's. You absolutely don't lose any energy with a stiff boot. I doubt I'd ever bother going any less stiff in the future. Plus I don't think before blocking shots so the extra armor helps too.
Yeah, I've checked the fit and done some pencil tests also. There are some problem with a bit of pressure in the forefoot but nothing that causes pain.

We do have 1 beginner who's wearing a size 7.5D Vapor x1.0 instead of 7D but he's doing better than the problematic ones.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarick View Post
There has to be some terminology difference here.

There's ankle mobility and then boot stiffness. I always thought boot stiffness was more lateral, whereas ankle mobility is front-to-back.
By that understanding, wouldn't the wobbly feet fall into boot stiffness? Wobbly means being unstable laterally isn't it?

And AIRAYE, I didn't say it was you who said it but I did a lot of google searches and found quite a few debates posted on both this forum, MSH and some other articles

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05-23-2012, 10:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelshu View Post
By that understanding, wouldn't the wobbly feet fall into boot stiffness? Wobbly means being unstable laterally isn't it?
No. A good skater can skate around with their skates barely tied, i.e., with little to no high ankle support and still not wobble on their skates at all. Wobbling is caused by poor form and/or a skate that does not fit and allows the foot to move around on the footbed.

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05-23-2012, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarick View Post
There has to be some terminology difference here.

There's ankle mobility and then boot stiffness. I always thought boot stiffness was more lateral, whereas ankle mobility is front-to-back.

Some skates, probably most at the NHL level, seem to do very well with very stiff skates AND taping the tongue/tendon guard for less ankle mobility. I think they do this to add power to their stride. But, lack of ankle mobility could lead to knee or hip/groin issues.

First thing that comes to mind is Marian Gaborik. He tapes the crap out of his ankles and is insanely fast. But he had nothing but groin issues for most of his career, eventually requiring surgery.

I don't know enough about that, but I do know I've never been very good without ankle mobility, regardless of skate stiffness. Even though my stride sucks and I don't have much power, I like the agility.
One of the best power skaters in the business (and one of the best ice skaters I've ever seen in m life) teaches out of our rink and the first thing she tells her students is not to make the top of the skate overly tight, as it limits your ability to roll your ankles and hampers your ability to get into and remain in a power skating position.

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05-23-2012, 11:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stickmata View Post
No. A good skater can skate around with their skates barely tied, i.e., with little to no high ankle support and still not wobble on their skates at all. Wobbling is caused by poor form and/or a skate that does not fit and allows the foot to move around on the footbed.
Yes, I can do that both on my x2.0 and x7.0. But really, dude I've checked their fittings and they fit just fine.

Please explain what do you mean by poor form?

Edit: I must add, the Supreme One20 feels like it has less support than the Vapor X1.0

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05-23-2012, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelshu View Post
Yes, I can do that both on my x2.0 and x7.0. But really, dude I've checked their fittings and they fit just fine.

Please explain what do you mean by poor form?

Edit: I must add, the Supreme One20 feels like it has less support than the Vapor X1.0
The flex in a boot isn't going to cause a full 'wobble' that you see in a beginner, unless you're really wearing the old leather skates with all the support of Chuck Taylors. ANY modern skate offers enough support to not wobble if the skater is properly positioned on his skates and using his edges properly. The two most common form related causes of wobble, IN MY OPINION, are: 1) standing up too straight (which negatively affects balance) and improper edge control (i.e., trying to skate around dead on top of the skates with both edges on the ice). Either one of those cause beginners to wobble around.

IMO, the best thing a beginning skater can do is watch an NHL hockey game and focus on two things. First, notice the way the players maintain their knee bend and ankle roll ALL the time, no matter whether they are skating straight, turning, stopping, relatively still, etc. Second, notice how much time they spend with their legs spread apart wide and both feet on their INSIDE edges. If you really watch this, you will notice that players propably spend over 75% of their time on the ice like this. Why do they do these things? Balance, control and agility.

Any time I find myself struggling with my skating, all I do is exaggerate my knee bend and ankle roll and I immediately regain balance and control.

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05-23-2012, 02:00 PM
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Well, they do always tend to skate upright because they said their legs are too tired. But they also seem to keep having problem even with their knees bent..

Any ideas to increase their knee-bend endurance? (besides gym/any specialized trainings.. they're not really serious skaters)
I'm kinda desperate, 2 of my worst friends have been skating for 5 months (twice a week). I've never taught anyone so slow!

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05-23-2012, 02:21 PM
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Honestly, they just need to skate more. When I started out I had 3 practices a week, 1-2 games, and skated about 2-3 times on my own top of that.

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05-23-2012, 03:07 PM
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Maybe drum it into them that knees not bent leads to poor balance leads to falls and playing like crap.

For me, the moment I stop bending my knees, through tiredness or I guess inexperience, I lose my balance and enjoy myself less.

Last night, the combination of new laces done tighter and reminding myself to keep those knees bent helped me skate, get the puck and be able to shoot it too.

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05-24-2012, 12:01 PM
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yeah i guess for now i'll keep drumming them about the knee bend.. I'll see if they have a bit of a progress in the next few months.

believe it or not i even tied their laces myself, one by one... lol
my 13 year old student is doing great though, btw

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