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Conflicting pro advice, help!

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05-11-2014, 10:46 AM
  #1
afftonhockeymom
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Conflicting pro advice, help!

My son is 8 and he has never skated prior to the spring LTP session he's been enrolled in since March 2014. We also have gotten him private ice time with a trainer to work on just skating. I started to notice straight away that something seemed off with him after the first session because he was crying and frustrated due to not being able to even stand. After a terrible second session the following week I took him into Total Hockey and they sized him for skates (we rented an ice kit from the rink) and the skates he had were 2 sizes too big.

After getting the right size skates he seems to be doing better, but still his ankles are bowing inward. The private lesson coach said it's because his feet are 'pronated' and we needed to buy him special insoles for it. I took him to a local sport gear shop and the hockey guy said that's rubbish, he just needs to strengthen his ankles. After 5 LTP sessions ...still the ankles are bowing in toward each other and he's just inching along the ice, not trying to skate at all.

I bought the insoles at $42. Now this last LTP session yesterday the coach took me aside and told me that they can't do much for him on the ice that he has weak ankles and he needs to be exercising them at home to strengthen them. I mentioned the 'pronating' of his feet and the new insoles and he said that wasn't the problem -- his ankles are weak.

So ... over the course of about 6-8 weeks I have gotten varying advice from varying forms of professionals about what's up with my son's feet / inability to skate. I have kept them tightened from toe to ankle, I have tried loosening them around the 4-5th eyehole. My son has a passion for hockey that I really admire and he's willing to put the work in to make his dream of playing hockey a reality .... as his mother however I am at a loss and I can't seem to get the same answer from any of the people who are meant to be coaching him.

I was of the mind that his ankles would strengthen up the more he skates, that the bowing of the ankles inward was normal and it would get better with time on the ice .... the coach yesterday made that seem like that wasn't the case at all.

Any advice?

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05-11-2014, 11:06 AM
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SaintMorose
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Might be good to check in with a doctor if there's a good chance of Pronation as it will likely effect walking/other sports and can be helped a lot with better shoes.

That said it's unlikely if you haven't noticed anything off with him for walking/running before and the doctor will likely rule it out.
Ankle bending is common with beginners as the strength needed for skating is different than anything he'd usually be accustomed too. Doing ankle stretches/rolls each day and some light off-ice ankle workouts might be the best way to get to where he wants to be faster.

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05-11-2014, 11:36 AM
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smcgreg
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I have a lot of direct experience with my son who is currently 9 and we went through the same thing a couple years ago. Now he is the best skater on his A level travel team and often gets remarks from other teams when we play games on the quality of his skating.

Honestly, my thoughts are too lengthy for the forum and they've previously been posted somewhere else. Shoot me a PM and I can direct you to them. (I assume posting links here to another forum wouldn't be cool.)

I'd be happy to help though as I know how discouraging that place you're in right now can be. Nobody seems to have good answers and the answers you get from experts are conflicting. I've been there, so, I'd like to pass on the benefit of my experience.

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05-11-2014, 03:31 PM
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AIREAYE
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The coach who suggested to buy special insoles is an idiot. Avoid that person from now on. He's a beginner and he's 8, proper fitting skates and more time at it is what will help him improve, like other posters mentioned.

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05-11-2014, 03:40 PM
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axman15
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My ankles used to go in a lot when I skated too. As I got older and stronger, this problem gradually went away. Skating takes some getting used to, my advice would be to get him on the ice as much as possible.

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05-11-2014, 04:02 PM
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afftonhockeymom
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Thanks so much for the replies. I thought that as he was on the ice more his ankles would strengthen up, but the LTP coach didn't seem too keen on that idea. I've been working with him on a few ankle exercises so I'm hoping that will help him. Do you think I should return the insoles? He does have very flat feet. The insoles are SuperFeet.

Thanks again!

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05-11-2014, 05:10 PM
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AIREAYE
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At this point I don't think you can tell if the super feet will offer any benefit for him unless he explicitly states that the insoles feel much better than what came with the skates.

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05-13-2014, 07:43 PM
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vb66
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This is pretty common with beginners in general, especially young kids. Had your son played other sports growing up? Is he an athlete?

I would stop worrying about it so much as long as your son is enjoying his time on the ice. Does it really matter if he's not the best skater as long as he loves playing?

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05-13-2014, 08:02 PM
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afftonhockeymom
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The problem is he's not having much fun because he isn't progressing with the friends he's made at the sessions, he's being pushed back with kids outside of his age group really. His coach took us aside last Sunday and explained that without strengthening his ankles he wouldn't benefit from going through the LTP session.

So that's why I'm concerned. I don't want to take his fierce love for the sport and let it get twisted into a bitter dislike. If I can help in some way I want to

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05-13-2014, 08:23 PM
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smcgreg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afftonhockeymom View Post
The problem is he's not having much fun because he isn't progressing with the friends he's made at the sessions, he's being pushed back with kids outside of his age group really. His coach took us aside last Sunday and explained that without strengthening his ankles he wouldn't benefit from going through the LTP session.

So that's why I'm concerned. I don't want to take his fierce love for the sport and let it get twisted into a bitter dislike. If I can help in some way I want to
OK, if you read the materials I sent regarding my son, then the thing that I came to was that, when the "ankle bending" for lack of a better term (it's not actually pronation or overpronation) was at its worst was when his skates were too big. His ankles bent inward when he started, but he has flat feet, so, I attributed it to his flat feet. After the first year, I got him into a pair of Supremes that ended up lasting almost 2 yr. At 7 yr old, those were clearly too big to last that long. At the time though, the salesperson was actually trying to talk me into a size up saying he would "grow into them". I insisted I wanted skates that fit. Well, in hindsight, I could have gone down a full size or more.

Anyway, at that point, I tried the superfeet. He could barely skate on them at that point. We tried for several sessions to see if he would adapt, but they never worked. We went back to standard footbeds and it was better, but he was still a bender. AFter a few months, it started getting better and after 6 mo, he really started skating well.

As I pointed out earlier, now he is an exceptionally good skater. He still "bends" a bit, but it works for him. He can still find his outside edges when he needs to. We just got new skates a couple months ago and realized the supreme heels are too big for him. So, even in the right size, his ankles were rolling over because the heel was too lose. We moved him into Vapors and they work much better.

One thing you could try is an EZ fit bootie.

http://www.ezeefitsports.com/

To make sure my son's heels don't slip, I use this specific bootie

http://www.ezeefitsports.com/booties.htm

in the 2 mm thickness. They seem to help fill the heel volume without taking away the feel for the skate that a thicker sock seems to do.

Anyway, the point of this epic is maybe the skates are wrong for him. Actually, I can think of a couple kids in our mite program whose skates were probably too large and it cost them a spot on the squirt travel team. Good hands for 9 yr olds, but skating suffered due to skates that were likely too large. A good fitting skate is likely the best thing you could look into.

Again, from the other links I sent, the superfeet would likely be the wrong way to go.

Hope this helps. I know it can be frustrating.

The other thing I would recommend if he is falling behind his friends, is to take him to public skating on his own. That whole dynamic with other kids works great when the kid is keeping up or excelling, but it can actually be quite discouraging if they can't keep up. So, by getting extra ice time with you or someone else, who will skate with him, at his speed, without competition or distraction may help (**it's still gotta be fun though, even though it's not with friends). I did that once a week in the first year my son was learning and the extra ice time adds up to help him get better, without getting discouraged. Especially if he likes skating/hockey, but is getting frustrated due to the comparables.

That's it for now.

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05-13-2014, 10:55 PM
  #11
afftonhockeymom
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Thanks so much for the insight and advice! He's a 2.5 tennis shoe and his skates are 1. He has very flat feet that are a bit wide. They are part of the rental hockey kit from the arena hosting the LTP session, so that might have something to do with it maybe? I just didn't want to spend a hundred dollars on skates without knowing whether or not he was going to stick with it. He was sized by two separate places and I was told he's a 1

I've been working with him nightly doing a few ankle strengthening exercises. I'll start taking him to open skates every weekend. I'm hopeful his ankles will work themselves out with time and more skating. I know it was asked before, but no he has not played any team sports prior to this LTP.

He does wear the thinner socks, would thicker possibly be better? I'll also check into those boots!

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05-14-2014, 01:56 AM
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raptor5191
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It is definitely the rental skate. Definitely get him his own set of skates. I have taught several younger tikes (including my own when they were young) to play and poor fitting skates is a very common problem in kids' difficulty in learning.

Also, thicker socks will add more "mushiness" to the bracing system a good skate can provide the player. You want the skater to get the maximum benefit from the skate boot possible, as all decent brands (when fitted right) will give some level of support to the little guy so the ankle wobbling can slowly be overcome. Like others have said, the inward ankle bend is a VERY common problem for new skaters (young and old) and goes away with proper fitting skates and conditioning of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the legs and feet as well as learning the coordination necessary to skate.

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05-14-2014, 02:17 PM
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afftonhockeymom
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Ok thanks! I will try and pick up his own pair of skates next week. We are trying to do exercises daily meant to strengthen his ankles or leg muscles / tendons ( squats, toe lifts, standing upright in his unlaced skates doing squats) and he seems to have fun with it. What alarmed me was the coach pulling us to the side and saying there was nothing that they could do for him etc.

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05-14-2014, 03:47 PM
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I have seen coaches push kids aside and gravitate towards the better players before. Sadly these coaches seem to want to live there dream through the kids. Get your son some proper fitting skates. I had ill fitting skates growing up and it was awful. Finally my mother scraped up the money and got me good fitting skates. she said I never smiled so much lol

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05-14-2014, 06:09 PM
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smcgreg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afftonhockeymom View Post
Ok thanks! I will try and pick up his own pair of skates next week. We are trying to do exercises daily meant to strengthen his ankles or leg muscles / tendons ( squats, toe lifts, standing upright in his unlaced skates doing squats) and he seems to have fun with it. What alarmed me was the coach pulling us to the side and saying there was nothing that they could do for him etc.
Nothing they could do for him???? WTF???!!!

1) get a good fitting pair of skates. They don't need to be high end, just fit right. Even size 1 used would probably do since they likely won't have been skated in long and by a skater that can't wear them down too much. As long as they fit that is...

2) Try and find another LTP. That's a load of horse crap. A LTP and they can't do anything for him? What they hell are they there for? Seriously, that just pisses me off.

Anyway, if you're in a locale without other options, sorry to hear that. If there other options,.. exercise them.

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05-15-2014, 08:32 AM
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like others have said, get him a good pair of skates that fit right. Also with his ankles will get stronger.

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05-15-2014, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by smcgreg View Post
Nothing they could do for him???? WTF???!!!

1) get a good fitting pair of skates. They don't need to be high end, just fit right. Even size 1 used would probably do since they likely won't have been skated in long and by a skater that can't wear them down too much. As long as they fit that is...

2) Try and find another LTP. That's a load of horse crap. A LTP and they can't do anything for him? What they hell are they there for? Seriously, that just pisses me off.

Anyway, if you're in a locale without other options, sorry to hear that. If there other options,.. exercise them.
I completely agree. Hopefully there is another program available in your area. This coach is... not a nice guy. "I can't help him" shouldn't be an option in a learn-to-play program for kids. If he's never skated before, that is what it is, but that's why he's there. If that's a problem, the rink should require (as some do) that he complete a basic skating course before doing LTP hockey. Or, maybe it'll take him more time to pick it up, but that's OK, and the kind of discouragement the coach is dishing out is unwarranted.

And ankle-strengthening exercises for an 8 year old who's not affected by disease or injury is ridiculous. Your son will certainly benefit from well-fitting skates, and a pair of inline skates, if you can swing buying both, would probably be the best benefit. There are skills to be learned on ice that won't transfer from inline, but at this point, getting comfortable on inlines will be a great boost to your son's confidence on ice.

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05-15-2014, 10:34 AM
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My advice is to get him skates that fit him properly. Different brands are designed for different feet types. Similar to your son, I had weaker ankles and I needed the support of a tighter fit. I've found Bauer (Vapours) to be a good fit for me as the heel tends to be a little smaller.

Just another piece of advice, to continue to fuel your sons passion while also helping to develop his skating, look into getting him a pair of hockey style roller blades for the summer months. It should help him work on his skating technique and become smoother while also building up ankle strength.

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05-15-2014, 03:58 PM
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afftonhockeymom, I see tens of beginners kids with same issue. Its usually happens with most of them at 4-5-6 when they start to skate.
The issue here is that he is 8 already and his ankles are not strong. Its not a drama for sure. As previously mentioned he needs good pair of skates and ... make them really tight.
I had to tight skates at the top a lot when my son started. I am not sure if you can do it as tight as required. Ask somebody in dressing room to help/show you how to tight skates.
You can use a tool for tightening laces. I can say that with tool I can make it tighter rather than without it (for my skates too).
Also when my wife was with my son at the rink, he complained after that she was not able to tight it properly.

Quote:
This is pretty common with beginners in general, especially young kids.
- Exactly.

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05-15-2014, 09:25 PM
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I'd find a small/local hockey shop vs Total Hockey to get him sized. At a chain, you're more at the mercy of who ever is working that shift. Pay more for better service.

And as mentioned, all brands fit different.

Learn to Skate/Learn to Play, you don't need top dollar skates. I was of the mind to buy the cheapest they had, knowing their " cheap" were still good skates, but bought them each year to fit that year.

Even after 2.5 yrs of skating, my boys left ankle still bent in a bit.

We used the thin foam wrap for a coupla months, just enough wraps to help fill the boot tighter. Might have even just been enough to remind him to straighten it. Either way, 4-5 wraps of thin foam and problem solved.

If I read this right, you were looking for results after a handful of skates?

If so, realize it can easily take a full season or more.

Doesn't sound like he's ready for LTP.

I'd find a Learn to Skate program first.

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05-15-2014, 09:34 PM
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AIREAYE
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I'd find a small/local hockey shop vs Total Hockey to get him sized. At a chain, you're more at the mercy of who ever is working that shift. Pay more for better service.
Tough to draw meaningful correlations on this one, trust me I've worked both large and small.

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05-15-2014, 11:06 PM
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smcgreg
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Tough to draw meaningful correlations on this one, trust me I've worked both large and small.
No kidding. I stay away from my small LHS, because the service is horrible. I used to drive one hour each way to get premium service at a Total Hockey until they just put one around the corner from my local rink. Service is excellent and the expertise is excellent as well. Importantly, they don't think they know more than me like the small LHS, where they've done a different hollow than I wanted because they didn't think I NEEDED the hollow I asked for. Give me the F'in service I ask for and don't condescend.

Anyway, in my experience, Total Hockey is excellent. Granted all of the TH stores in my area are less than a year old. So, maybe that will diminish with time.


Last edited by smcgreg: 05-15-2014 at 11:51 PM. Reason: clarification
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05-16-2014, 12:51 AM
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Quote:
you were looking for results after a handful of skates?
-

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05-17-2014, 07:02 AM
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Gino 14
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Nothing like making your kids suffer so you can live through them. Whatever happened to letting kids enjoy the game as just a game?

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05-17-2014, 08:38 AM
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Kids in this age bracket develope at vastly different rates. Make sure you have the right fitting equipment and help him/her to have FUN.

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