How To Lace Hockey Skates

As every hockey parent or player knows, unfortunately at some point in your career, you’re going to have to replace your laces. Like any other piece of hockey equipment, they do not last forever.

When the time comes to lace your hockey skates with a brand new set of laces, there are a couple things you should keep in mind. In this case, we’re talking about ice hockey skates specifically, but you can use the same methods with figure skates or any other type of skate.

No one lacing method is perfect, it’s purely a matter of personal preference. Before we lace up your skates, we’ll need to answer one of the most important questions outside of skate size. We’ll get to that in a second, though. Let’s choose which type of lace we’ll be using.

Answer These Questions Before Relacing Hockey Skates

One of the best tips I’ve ever been given when relacing skates is to buy multiple sizes and waxed and non waxed laces before retying your skates. New laces are under $5 a pair, so spending the extra $15 on spare pairs is worth the frustration it can save if this is your first time.

How Does Skate Size Affect Lace Length?

As your skate size gets bigger, so does the size laces you’ll need. When most folks hit high school, they’re generally sticking with the same skate lace size for the rest of their life. However, for youth hockey parents, it can be frustrating needing to re-determine what size laces you’ll need.

The most important part of putting a new pair of laces on your skates is determining what length laces you’ll need. Use the chart below to determine what size laces you need, based on skate size.

Hockey Skate Lace Length Chart

Skate Size Lace Length (Inches) Lace Length (Centimenters)
Youth 8 – Junior 3 72″ 183 cm
Junior 3-6 84″ 213 cm
Senior 6-8 96″ 244 cm
Senior 8-10 120″ 305 cm
Senior 12-14 130″ 330 cm

Are you using Waxed or Non Waxed Laces?

The main difference between waxed and non waxed laces in hockey skates is that waxed laces tend to stay in place longer. They’re also a bit harder to tie, so not recommended for youth skaters who are tying their own skaters.

Waxed laces provide hockey players the ability to tie their skates and have the laces not come loose during game or practice play. While waxed laces don’t always work as advertised, generally speaking, they’re a much better option than non waxed laces.

One of the disadvantages to waxed laces is that they’re more prone to cause lace bite. If you prefer more forgiveness and flex in your skate boot, use non waxed when re lacing ice hockey skates.

A common myth of waxed laces is that they create waxy residue that gets everywhere. This is simply false, as waxed laces are often fairly difficult to tell. If you wax your hockey stick, you’re handling way more wax than you’d ever find on a pair of laces.

Lacing Your Hockey Skates Step by Step

Before we begin to lace our hockey skates, we’ve got to determine what size laces we should be putting in our skates. There are a number of different sizes of skate laces available and choosing the correct size means the difference between a year of skate tying frustration and a seamless experience.

We’re ready to start lacing.

Step 1: Remove Your Old Laces

This part is easy and needs no explanation. Remove your old skate laces and make sure that your new laces are ready to go before beginning. The entire process should take you less than 10 minutes.

Step 2: Insert New Skate Lace Into The Toe of The Skate (like you would a shoe)

When replacing your skate laces, you’ll be using the criss cross method of lacing. As you work your way up the skate boot, it’s important to ensure that each eyelet across from each other is completed before making your way to the next eyelet.

Step 3: Pull Your Skate Lace Evenly Through Each Eyelet on Skate Toe

Always start skate lacing on the bottom eyelets of your skate. The bottom eyelets are the eyelets closes to the toe of the skate.

When you re lace your skates, making sure that your skate lace is evenly pulled through each eyelet of the skate is critically important when lacing your skates. At this point, it may appear that you have more lace than you think is necessary. Don’t worry, by the end you may not have enough.

An easy way to accomplish this step is to set your skate on the floor, holding it between your feet, while standing and ensuring each end of the skate lace is perfectly even (see photo)

Step 4: Under The Eyelet or Over When Lacing Hockey Skates?

This is the single most common question folks ask when lacing skates.

You can choose to go under the eyelet, or over the eyelet. Most folks choose to lace hockey skates by going under the eyelet, before crossing back across the tongue of the skate to the other side. Whichever method you choose, it must be repeated the entire way up the skate boot or the skates will be impossible to take on and off.

Advantages to going over the eyelet

  • It’s easier to tie your skates, helps to avoid lace bites
  • Generally results in tighter skate, especially important if you do not like waxed laces

Advantages to going under the eyelet

  • Easiest to tie and untie
  • Creates tighter initial feeling on the foot and ankle, helps reduce slippage

Step 5: Lace Skates Diagonally Moving One Eyelet At A Time

You must lace diagonally when working your way up the boot, to ensure that lace bite is avoided and that your skates will be snugly tightened to your feet when tied. One of the most common reasons hockey players end up with ankle injuries is due to improper skate lacing, so take time to do it right.

It will not matter which eyelet you start with, as long as you use a criss cross lacing method the entire length of the boot. When criss cross lacing hockey skates, make sure that you complete the eyelets in the same order each time you push lace through.

Step 6: Choose Your Ending Top Eyelets

Many folks assume that every eyelet on a hockey skate is for use. In fact, that’s not the case. Choosing the topmost eyelet on your skate is purely a matter of personal preference. If you prefer more forward flex ability for your ankle, leave several top eyelets open at the top of the boot.

For maximum ankle stability, lace hockey skates to the second topmost eyelet or the top eyelet itself. Many players find that despite the added stability lacing to the top of the tongue creates, they actually get better grip by lacing the middle of the boot to the top of the ankle tightly, and using the top simply to hold tightness.

Also Read: How To Tape a Hockey Stick

Testing And Making Adjustments

Now that you’ve completed your skate lacing, it’s time to test them out. If you’ve done this before, you’re likely ready to go. Here are a couple tips that can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your skate tying.

Having trouble retaining tightness?

Try switching to waxed laces, or use longer laces and double cross the laces behind your ankles. This also gives some added ankle stability to your skates. If you double cross the laces behind your ankle, you should be able to leave a few eyelets open at the top of your skates.

Feeling a sharp pain in your ankle?

Odds are, you’re too tight on the 3rd or 4th eyelet. Looser lacing will benefit you if you’ve got ankle pain from your lacing method.

At the end of the day, there is no proper lacing method for ice skates as it’s purely personal preference. Find a method that works for you, whether that’s criss cross, double-cross lacing, or lock lacing.