1. Loosen laces halfway down so your child’s foot can slide in easily. The heel should sit flat and toes shouldn’t touch the end of the skate. Bang the heel on the ground to ensure it’s in properly.
2. Starting at the toe, pull each criss-crossed lace so the skate feels snug, but your child can still wiggle her toes. Hockey skates can be looser at the toes, but figure skates should be snug from toe to top.
3. For hockey skates, lace up to the top holes and tie with a bow. For figure skates, cross laces and loop around the eyelets, pulling as you go. Tie at the top. (If getting skates tight enough is a challenge, pick up a lace-pulling tool.)
4. Have her stand up; make sure her ankles feel supported and aren’t dipping inward.
—Angela Morris, former figure skating coach; Joe Boughner & Chris Etheridge, hockey coaches
* practise tying laces at home so your child has a better idea of what’s comfortable.
* purchase laces that are long enough to make a comfortable bow at the top of the tongue, but not too long that they have to be tied around the ankles.
* wear thick socks—tights or thin socks help prevent blisters.
* buy second-hand skates; they’re molded for another foot and can cause uncomfortable “hot spots” on feet.
How tight is too tight? When the skater bends his knees in a squat while standing, you should be able to slip a finger into the back of the boot about an inch or two down.
A version of this article appeared in our October 2014 issue with the headline, “Quick fixes: How to help kids tie skates,” p. 50.
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