So you’ve got a new pair of skates.
You tried them on in the store and you’re excited to break them in.
Well… you’ve been breaking them in for a while—but there’s one problem…
They’re too big.
You can’t return them at this point, so what do you do? There’s nothing worse than having uncomfortable skates. If you want to actually have fun playing hockey, you have to make sure your skates are comfortable.
Well, in this article, we’ll cover a few different methods to fix hockey skates that are too big.
Let’s dive in.
Here’s What to Do if Your Hockey Skates Are Too Big:
If your hockey skates are too big, there are a few things you can do. First, try wearing bigger socks. Bake your skates if you haven’t done so already. Use power foot inserts to make them more snug overall. Re-bake your skates (only re-bake once).
1. Try Wearing Bigger Socks
The easiest and quickest option to reduce wiggle room in your skates is by wearing bigger socks.
This may sound silly, but it can work like a charm.
When I say bigger socks, I mean thicker socks. You may not have thick socks, but it’s important to wear one pair of extra thick socks rather than two pairs.
If you wear two pairs of socks, your feet are much more likely to blister during the game due to chafing.
However, if you don’t have time to get thicker socks and you’ve got a game to play soon–then two pairs of socks is better than playing hockey in too big of skates.
2. Bake Your Skates
If you haven’t baked your skates already, then this is the next best option.
If you have baked your skates, then move onto step 3.
Baking skates is also known as heat molding. This reduces your skates’ break-in time. Plus, it provides a much more custom fit around your foot—allowing your skates to mold to your feet much better.
An oven’s heat is used to soften the materials in the skates boot. Once the boot is heated up, you’ll put on the warm skate while it’s moldable. Once it’s laced up around your foot, it will cool and form much better to your foot.
Keep in mind that you should always check your manufacturer to ensure your skates are heat-moldable. Recreational or even entry level hockey skates aren’t typically heat-moldable and can damage the skates.
You can take your skates into your local hockey shop to get them baked. Or, you can do it right from the comfort of your own home.
Here’s how to bake your skates at home:
1. Prep the Skate Baking
Set up a chair that you’ll sit on during baking. And, put a mat on the ground.
Wear the hockey socks that you’d normally wear when you play hockey.
Get a baking tray and oven mitts ready so they’re within reach.
Untie your skate laces so you can easily slide your feet into your boots.
And, get a timer ready.
You don’t want to be scrambling through the process trying to get everything prepared when you’re on the clock as you could mess a part of the process up.
2. Preheat Your Oven to 175 F
Set your oven temperature to 175 F (this usually takes 10-15 minutes).
This is the typical temperature you’ll want to use to soften materials without causing damage.
Warning: Do not turn the temperature higher. You could seriously damage your boot (and potentially burn your foot) if the temperature is too high.
Before the oven is ready, squeeze your boot with your hands to get a feel for how stiff it is before you put it in (this will help with step 4).
3. Once your oven is done heating up, turn it off and wait 30 seconds.
Then, place one skate on your baking tray and put it on the center oven rack.
It may seem strange to put them in one at a time, but it’s a way to ensure your skate is done properly. Make sure the skate only touches the baking tray (and not the element or oven rack). Then, close the door.
4. Leave Your Skate in for 3-5 Minutes
After about two minutes, check on your skate. If your quarter panels are much softer (and more flexible) than before, they’re ready.
If not, then put it back in for 1-2 minutes. Warning: Do not over bake your skates as you could ruin them.
5. Remove Them from the Oven
Using your oven mitts, remove the tray from the oven and bring your skate near your chair.
Your skate should be warm (not hot). Warning: be very careful not to touch the steel (blades) or metal eyelets as they could burn your hand.
Gently slip your feet into your skate. Make sure your heel is snug right to the back of the skate.
6. Tie Your Skate
Before you tie your skate up, be very careful not to ruin your eyelets.
Don’t pull your laces down, up, or at any other angle. If you do, you could pull your eyelets right out of your boot since the boot is so soft.
Instead, pull your laces directly outwards from the eyelets and then lace up your skate.
Then, tie your skate how you normally would.
7. Sit for 10-15 minutes
Once your skate is tied up, sit with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle for 10-15 minutes.
Don’t stand. Don’t walk. Don’t do anything. Just sit there. If you feel like you’ll get antsy, watch some hockey highlights on your phone to pass the time!
8. Remove Your Skate
Once 10-15 minutes has passed, gently untie your laces and remove your skate.
You should wait 24 hours before you use your skate again as you want it to cool down and harden in place.
If you want to speed up the process, you could put it in your freezer for an hour or two. But, even so—you shouldn’t use your skates for at least 12 hours even with this method.
9. Repeat Steps 2-8
Once you’ve done one foot, it’s time for the other. Simply repeat steps 2-8.
3. Try Using Superfeet Hockey Insoles
One of the coolest hockey accessories is known as the Powerfoot Performance Insert by Adrenaline.
This isn’t your standard foot insert.
Adrenaline designed this insert to elevate your overall performance in a game.
However, the Superfeet Insoles are also really helpful to get rid of negative space in your boot, making it more snug.
It does a great job of eliminating empty room in your boot to give you a better fit.
This is really handy when you’re dealing with skates that are too big.
The best part is, the insert is much more affordable than having to replace your skates entirely.
This video shows how it works:
4. Re-Bake Your Skates (Be Careful)
If you’ve tried all the above options (wearing bigger socks, baking your skates, and trying Powerfoot inserts), but your skates are still too big… Then it may be time to re-bake them.
Now, this isn’t always the best option for two reasons:
1. It doesn’t work with every pair of skates. Baking a pair of skates a second time can be a hit or a miss depending on the type of skates you have. But, it may be worth trying if your skates are way too big.
2. It can damage your skates.
Every time you bake your skates, you break your skates down a bit more. If you bake them too many times, it could drastically shorten the lifespan of your skates.
You should be cautious about re-baking your skates. And, you really should never bake your skates more than twice.
Follow steps 1-9 in section 2 above if you need help re-baking your skates.
5. Buy Another Pair
I know you didn’t want to hear this piece of advice…
But, if you’ve gone through steps 1-4 and you’re still having issues, then sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and buy a new pair.
The most important thing when it comes to your hockey skates is how they fit your feet.
You don’t want to be lugging around skates that are way too tight or way too big as it can be uncomfortable. But, it could also be damaging to your feet if you play on skates that don’t fit long enough.
When you go to get new skates, make sure to try on a wide variety of brands and models. Sometimes you may find that you fit better in a skate that is half or even a full size bigger or smaller from one brand (or one model) to the next.
How Do You Know if Your Skates Are Too Big?
So, how do you really know if your skates are too big?
What if you’re just breaking them in still?
Well, generally speaking—if you’re breaking in your skates, they’ll typically feel a bit tight and stiff rather than big.
Here are a couple ways to know if your skates are too big:
- They’re too big even with thicker socks
- You don’t have much ankle support
- Your toes are too far from the front of your boot
- You feel a decent amount of heel lift
Your toes should be able to brush the font of your skate when they’re undone. But, when they’re tightened up, your toes should draw back a little.
Keep in mind that it’s natural to go 1-3 skate sizes down from your shoe size.
Here’s a great way to test if your skates are too big:
- Loosen up your skates a lot.
- Slide the front of your toes on the ground so your foot slides all the way to the front of your skate.
- Stand up how you normally would (make sure your toes are still touching the front of your skate).
- Bend your knees slightly.
- You should only really be able to fit a pen at the back of your heel. If it’s much bigger than that (about a ½ inch or less), then your skates are probably a bit too big.
For more hockey gear tips, check out our other popular blog posts: Bauer vs. CCM Sticks, Can You Use Hockey Gear in Lacrosse, and Should You Tape Your Street Hockey Stick.