Figure Skates vs Hockey Skates: Which One to Buy?

There is no better feeling than skating through the icy terrain in winter. It’s one of the most exciting and fun things to do in winter. However, in order to have a great experience, you need a good pair of skates. That’s where figure skates and hockey skates come into play.

Both figure skates and hockey skates look quite similar as they’re both designed for gliding gracefully on ice. But these two types of ice skates have some major differences that can completely change your ice skating experience.

So in the article, we’ll talk about figure skates vs hockey skates and help you choose the right one to buy according to your preference. 

What Are Figure Skates?

First, let’s talk about Figure skates. These skates are designed with artistic performance in mind and have some unique traits. Let’s talk about some of the characteristics of figure skates: 

1. Blade Shape and Placement

The blades of figure skates are longer and flatter. They are designed for maximum stability and control, crucial for executing spins, jumps, and intricate footwork. These blades are set farther apart which lets you have better balance and precise movements.

2. Boot Design

Figure skate boots are typically higher and stiffer. Figure skates provide excellent ankle support which is necessary for complex movements and landings. The high boots also give superior protection to the skater’s lower leg and minimize the risk of injury.

3. Toe Picks

One of the most distinctive features of figure skates is the toe picks. These serrated edges are located at the front of the blade and are used by figure skaters to grip the ice during jumps. They’re essential for providing the necessary traction and control in figure skating.

What Are Hockey Skates?

In contrary to figure skates, hockey skates are built for the fast-paced, physically demanding sport of ice hockey. Let’s take a look at some of the unique traits of hockey skates: 

1. Blade Shape and Placement

Hockey skate blades are shorter, narrower, and more curved than those of figure skates. The design of hockey skates is ideal for speed and agility. It allows hockey players to make quick stops, turns, and rapid accelerations on the ice. The placement of the blades is also closer together, providing a lower center of gravity and enhancing maneuverability.

2. Boot Design

Hockey skate boots are low-cut and designed to be lightweight and flexible. This way, hockey players can have a full range of motion in their ankles and perform actions like crouching, striding, and shooting. The disadvantage is that it doesn’t offer the same level of ankle support as figure skate boots.

3. No Toe Picks

Unlike figure skates, hockey skates don’t have toe picks. In fact, the front of the blade is smooth and flat. This design eliminates the risk of tripping over toe picks during intense gameplay and allows players to quickly switch directions and pivot on the ice.

Also Read: Indoor vs Outdoor Roller Skates

Figure Skates vs Hockey Skates: Which One’s Better?

Now that we’ve broken down the key differences between figure skates and hockey skates, let’s see which aspects you should consider before buying your ice skates:  

Figure Skates vs Hockey Skates

1. Purposes

Figure skates are primarily designed for the artistry of figure skating. If you want to perform execute intricate footwork, and engage in elegant spins and jumps, figure skates are the best options. They are optimized for the precision and control required in figure skating.

On the other hand, if you’re captivated by the speed, physicality, and team dynamics of ice hockey, hockey skates are the natural selection. Hockey skates are tailor-made for the rapid movements and agility necessary in a fast-paced sport like ice hockey.

2. Ankle Support

Figure skate boots offer high ankle support, which is crucial for figure skaters who need to land jumps and execute intricate moves. The rigid, high-cut design of figure skate boots provides stability and minimizes the risk of ankle injuries during demanding maneuvers.

But hockey skates have a low-cut, flexible design, and offer greater freedom of movement in the ankle. This is essential for hockey players who need to crouch, make quick strides, and shoot the puck. However, it’s worth noting that this flexibility can make hockey skaters more prone to ankle injuries.

3. Traction and Control

Figure skate blades have toe picks at the front. These toe picks provide a solid grip and allow figure skaters to perform jumps, spins, and other advanced moves with control and precision. They’re a vital tool for any figure skater’s repertoire.

In contrast, hockey skate blades have a smooth and flat front. This design enables hockey players to make quick turns and pivots without the risk of tripping over toe picks. The absence of toe picks in hockey skates is a deliberate choice to prioritize rapid directional changes during gameplay.

4. Comfort

Comfort is essential for extended periods on the ice. Figure skates come in various styles and designs to accommodate different foot shapes and sizes. Finding a well-fitting pair is crucial to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable skating experience.

Similarly, hockey skates come in different designs and styles, so it’s important to try them on and find the right fit for your feet. Uncomfortable skates can lead to blisters, discomfort, and even injuries during intense gameplay.

5. Skill Level

For beginners in figure skating, the high boots and toe picks of figure skates can be a bit difficult to adjust. It may take some time to adapt to the additional ankle support and toe picks. But with practice and dedication, beginners can also become proficient in using figure skates.

Beginners in hockey may find the lower-cut, more flexible design of hockey skates easier to adapt to. The flexibility in the ankle allows for a greater range of motion, which can be advantageous for newcomers learning the fundamentals of the game.

Final Verdict

Between figure skates vs hockey skates, the choice is completely up to you. Both of these ice skates have certain pros and cons, so you should buy the one that fits your style and preferences. Whatever you choose, you’ll have a wonderful experience of gliding gracefully or dashing across the ice while having a blast.


Are there any age restrictions for using figure skates or hockey skates?

There are no strict age restrictions for using figure skates or hockey skates. Skating is an inclusive activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Can I sharpen figure skate blades and hockey skate blades the same way?

Figure skate blades have toe picks, which need to be sharpened carefully to maintain their performance. On the other hand, hockey skate blades are sharpened with a different technique to ensure smooth edges.

Can beginners use figure skates or hockey skates comfortably?

Beginners can use either type of skate, but there are considerations. Hockey skates are generally easier for beginners because of their ankle flexibility. On the contrary, figure skates may present a steeper learning curve due to their higher boots and toe picks.

Why is figure skating a good sport?

Figure skating is considered an excellent form of sport because it can enhance the strength and endurance of the human body.

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