How To Lace Hockey Skates (Pictures AND Videos!)

You have your brand new set of hockey skates, or a new set of inline hockey skates, and you are itching to try them out – but first you need to lace those things up!  There are several different techniques for lacing your skates, and we will break them down so you can pick the best way to lace em up!  The main thing we want to achieve is a stable fit where your foot isn’t moving around in the boot, and to avoid the dreaded ‘lace bite’ which is a sharp pain that moves from the shin across the top of your foot!

Waxed vs Non Waxed Laces - The Differences

Other than color, there are two types of laces you can choose when deciding what to lace up with – Waxed or Non Waxed.

Non Waxed Laces – These are standard rope laces.  They come in every color under the sun, and are similar to laces found in shoes or cleats, but thicker and stronger to put up with the abuse they will see out on the rink.  I prefer non waxed as I have lots of experience lacing my skates and don’t require the added grip / tack that waxed laces provide.

Pros – Easier to tie the skate up, less rigid allowing for flex in your boot, softer on hands
Cons – Don’t hold tightness as well as waxed, harder to grip

Waxed Laces – Waxed laces have a thin layer of wax applied along the length of the lace.  This gives them a sticky, tacky feel.  When you are tying your skates, each set of eyelets you tighten the lace around, the wax will grip and lock in that tightness, allowing you to move up a set of eyelets easier without having to maintain pressure with your hands.  Waxed laces certainly do a better job at retaining any tightness you have laced in, but are also harder to tie up as they grab each eyelet on the way up.  If you are trying to get your child to start tying their skates for the first time, this could be a good choice for them!

Pros – Hold tightness better, last longer as they do not absorb moisture, allows for tightening of certain areas better than non waxed, don’t stretch
Cons – Harder to tie up and un-tie, wax can wear off over time leaving you with the worst of both worlds, can leave waxy residue on hands

Our Take – If you are new to hockey, or if you have a boot that doesn’t quite fit right and needs tightness in some areas and not others, we would suggest waxed laces.  If you are a veteran skater and you have a great fitting pair of skates, we would suggest going non waxed!

Looking for the best skate laces now that you know how to lace?  Check out our picks on most durable hockey skate laces!

What Size Laces Should You Use?

Here is a rough sizing guide to choose your laces!  You typically want enough lace to get through the top sets of eyelets and have lace left over for a double bow tie.  We borrowed this sizing guide from Howie’s!

Youth 8 – Junior 3 – 72 Inches
Junior 3.5 – 5.5      – 84 Inches
Senior 6 – 8            – 96 Inches
Senior 8 – 10          – 108 Inches
Senior 10 – 13        – 120 Inches
Senior 12 – 15        – 130 Inches

Now you know whether or not you want Waxed or Non Waxed and have the correct size, you’re ready to lace em up!

Need a new set of skates?  Check out our best senior hockey skates  article here!

Different Ways To Lace Your Hockey Skates

There are several different way to lace your skates.  The first two really boil down to personal preference, but the last two we believe is dependent on your skill level / playing style.  Read on for the break down!

Under Lacing

The most common lacing technique –  put the lace across the tongue and straight through the eyelet, pull over and repeat all the way up the skate!  If you are new at lacing, or lacing your child’s hockey skates, we would suggest starting here!

Photo of hockey skate laced up

Over Lacing

This method can help you get a little bit extra tightness compared to under lacing, but really they are very similar.  The main difference is the look of the lace job with the over lacing showing more lace across the boot!

Photo of laced up hockey skate

Lock Lacing

This is a style of lacing borrowed from runners, some of who swear by it for reducing foot slippage and really anchoring your foot down.  You do this by simply following either over or under lacing, and then going from your 2nd to the top eyelet outside right into the top eyelet.  We wouldn’t recommend this style for everyone as some flex in the boot is desirable, but if you are prone to ankle injuries or are a new skater it might be a preferable method to lace up with!  This can also help with Junior or Youth skates, as their feet may not fit perfectly and you need to really lock their foot in place!

Photo of hockey skate laced with

Partial Lacing / Leaving Eyelets Unlaced

This is our preferred method of lacing, or finish of lacing for more advanced skaters.  The reality is that you want some serious ankle mobility in order to lean into turns, or even for gliding.  If you are a brand new skater this style might feel unstable but as you progress we suggest giving it a try.  You simply do the over or under form of lacing, and leave the top eyelet un-laced.  This will allow for more left to right mobility of your ankle, letting you turn harder and sharper while out on the ice!  This also might be a superior way to lace if you have very wide feet and need to accommodate them with looser lacing!

Photo of skate with top eyelet undone

How To Lace Your Skates - Video


So in the end we would give you the following recommendations – Tie your hockey skates with a lock lace style if you are a new player or have injury prone ankles.  If you are middle of the road, a typical under or over lace job will suffice.  If you are more advanced, consider leaving the top eyelet undone in order to increase ankle mobility for better turning!  We hope this article helped, let us know in the comments below!

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