What Is the Difference Between Youth and Junior Hockey Skates?

What Is the Difference Between Youth and Junior Hockey Skates?

Youth and Junior Hockey Skates

Buying ice skates for children can be challenging, especially when you come face-to-face with all the sizes available. Nevertheless, there are some easy ways to figure out which size your kids need and whether they fit well or not. You may also be wondering what the difference is between youth and junior skates.

Youth hockey skates are for kids aged nine and under. The range will fit kids who wear shoe sizes 1.5 to 13.5. Junior skates are for kids under 13 and will fit boys who wear a 2 to 7 shoe. To figure out the size, choose skates one size smaller than your kid’s shoe size and go three sizes down for most girls.

The following article contains everything you need to get the best skates for your youth and junior hockey fans. We will show you how to size ice skates and how to know you’ve got the best fit. We will also take a look at ice skate accessories, like sharpeners.

Youth vs. Junior Skates: What’s the Difference?

Youth hockey skates fit kids aged nine and under or those who wear shoes in a 1.5 to 13.5 small kids size. On the other hand, junior skates fit kids aged 7 to 13 or those who take a 2 to 7 big kids shoe. However, the sizing systems for both types of skates are the same. Follow a one-size-smaller approach, and you won’t be far off.

You buy hockey skates a size smaller for a tighter fit. Skates must be securely fitted, not loose, and as they provide essential support to the ankle, safety is paramount when choosing skate size.

Girls’ skates, whether youth, junior, or senior, usually have to be much smaller than one size, so for girls, you should start trying on skates at two to three sizes smaller than your child’s shoe size.

A well-fitting skate should feel quite snug. Don’t worry if the skates seem tight; this is what you’re looking for. However, if the skate is too small for the foot, try the next size.

Youth Hockey Skates: Overview

The term ‘youth hockey skates’ refers to skates suitable for younger kids up to 8 or 9-year-olds. This range of skates fits kids who wear a 1.5 to a 13.5 shoe. A general rule of thumb is to choose skates one size down from your child’s shoe size (for boys) and three sizes down for girls.

What Is Youth Hockey?

Youth hockey is an all-encompassing term to describe all hockey types played by kids aged 20 and younger. Ice hockey tiers for kids start with Mite, or Mini-Mite, which involves kids aged eight and under. After that, there are tiers for every age up to 20. Kids play ice hockey with kids within a year or two of their age, so you can rest assured that your little ones are not on the ice with heavyset teenagers.

How to Size a Youth Hockey Skate

As mentioned, youth hockey skates usually fit one size down from the child’s shoe size. For example, if your child takes a size 7.0 shoe, their skate size is 6.0. However, this can get more complicated for very young children, as a size 1.5 shoe will need a 13.5 skate, and a size 1.0 shoe will take a 13.0 skate. Otherwise, the down-one-size approach fits all other youth hockey skates.

It’s always worth trying skates on before buying them, though, as the general rule of thumb might not work for everyone. Make sure your child’s skates fit correctly before purchasing.

We also have a much more in-depth article on how to size youth skates for the perfect fit.

Here is a handy sizing table for your reference:

Child Shoe Size Skate Size
1.5 13.5
1.0 13.0
13.5 12.5
13.0 12.0
12.5 11.5
12.0 11.0
11.5 10.5
11.0 10.0
10.5 9.5
10.0 9.0
9.5 8.5
9.0 8.0
8.0 7.0
7.0 6.0

However, please be aware that girls’ skate sizes are usually different than boys. Look at skates two or three sizes down from the shoe size if you’re buying hockey skates for a girl.

Ice Warehouse has an excellent video on sizing hockey skates here:

What Are the Best Youth Hockey Skates on the Market?

Some of the best brands for youth hockey skates are Bauer and CCM. Bauer offers a wide range of ice hockey skates for all ages, including toddlers. They frequently appear on Best Product lists, year after year, and are prominent figures in the ice hockey world. CCM is just as good, with several of their products making the Top 10s every year.

Either of these brands is an excellent choice for safety and longevity. They also have a much more comprehensive range than smaller suppliers and have extensive knowledge of the sport.

In fact, we have an article that goes over the best CCM skates available.

Junior Hockey Skates: Overview

The junior hockey skate range encompasses kids with a shoe size of 2 to 7. The one-size-down rule applies to junior skates, as well as youth skates. For instance, a child with a two shoe size would need a one size skate.

What Is Junior Hockey?

Junior hockey refers to hockey teams aged 16 - 20. Hockey at the junior level covers High School and Junior teams. Junior hockey kids can also play in the United States Hockey League (USHL) if they’re good enough. However, junior hockey skates are for much younger kids in the 7 - 13 age range.

How to Size a Junior Hockey Skate

The best way to size a junior hockey skate is to choose skates one size smaller than your child’s shoe size. This ensures a tighter, more secure fit, which is how ice skates are typically worn. Skates that are too loose are dangerous and could cause injuries, either from a fall or twisted ankle due to unproperly sized skates.

Here is a handy table to help you size your child’s junior hockey skates:

Child Shoe Size Skate Size
2.0 1.0
2.5 1.5
3.0 2.0
3.5 2.5
4.0 3.0
4.5 3.5
5.0 4.0
5.5 4.5
6.0 5.0
6.5 5.5

What Are the Best Junior Hockey Skates on the Market?

Like with youth skates, the best brands for junior ice hockey skates are from professional sports brands, like Bauer or CCM, which we have an article comparing the two brands. If the brand specializes in hockey, they are a much better choice than a general sports brand. However, some sports brands have excellent pairs of ice skates, such as Reebok.

Don’t be pressured into buying the coolest brand name. Ice skates primarily need to be safe and well-fitting. Every brand has a different interpretation of the sizes, and it’s best to buy the type that fits your child best.

If you’re looking for the most comfortable junior skates, we have an article discussing that topic as well.

What to Consider When Buying Children’s Hockey Skates

Buying youth or junior hockey skates can be overwhelming, but there are some useful tips on how to get the right fit and the correct type of skate. Remember, if you have any doubts about the fit of your child’s ice skates, seek expert advice before letting them play. Don’t forget to get some skate socks first, as you’ll need your child to wear these while trying on skates.

Skate Fit

The first thing you need to look for is a good fit. If your child’s hockey skate doesn’t fit correctly, it could lead to blisters, pain, and even injury. As children grow so much, it’s useful to frequently check the fit of your child’s skates, as they will grow out of them quickly.

Skates that are too small are painful and could be dangerous. Skates that are too big could become loose and cause a nasty fall or ankle injury. Ice skates have sharp blades along the bottom, and in the event when your kid’s skate comes off, the edge could hit them or someone else. Loose skates will affect your child’s play, as well as their safety on the ice.

We’ve also written a post on how to know if your skates are too small, which is worth a read as well. Or another describing why skates are so uncomfortable.

Don’t be tempted to buy bigger skates for your child to grow into. Consider buying mid-range skates that fit them now, rather than high-end skates that will last them but don’t fit.

Make sure to try on new skates with the skate socks that your child will be wearing in them to ensure a proper fit.

Well-fitting ice skates should feel quite tight or snug but shouldn’t cause pain, cramping, or crunching up of the foot. Skates are designed to fit more tightly than shoes for safety and better support on the ice. Your child might feel uncomfortable at first, as they are more used to how shoes feel, and striking a balance between the right skates and a too-small pair can be challenging.

Type of Skate

Buying a figure skate or a speed skate for ice hockey is inadvisable and usually not allowed. Skates are designed with specific purposes in mind, and if your child is playing ice hockey, you should stick to ice hockey skates. It would be best if you also avoided recreational skates. Hockey skates come in different styles for players and goalies.

Hockey Player’s Gender

Mainstream skates and the associated sizing systems are aimed at boys, who are typically much bigger than girls. If you’re shopping for a girl, try on skates three-sizes smaller than her shoe size, or shop from a girl’s ice hockey selection. Some boys might find a girl’s skate fits better, so if you’re struggling to find the right size for a boy, consider the girls’ type.

Lacing or Velcro

If your child is likely to put their skates on and off themself, consider whether or not you need velcro skates. Most ice hockey skates are lace-ups, and the lacing can be pretty tough for a small child to do. It might be worth contacting your local ice rink to check whether an adult will be responsible for your child’s laces or if they’ll need to manage their skates themselves.


When your child is on the ice, their skates will need to keep water away from their feet. No one likes wet, cold, and numb feet, which is even worse on the ice, as it can become a safety issue. Also, it might affect your child’s performance in the game. Many ice skates have water-wicking fabric, and it’s essential to check for this.

Are Skates for Girls Different?

Skates for girls are sized differently than boys’ or men’s skates. To find the right skates for a girl, you’ll need to go three sizes down from their shoe size if you’re shopping in a mainstream size range.

Most hockey equipment is sized for boys, so unless you’re explicitly shopping from a girls’ ice hockey selection, go for much smaller sizes due to the size difference between girls and boys. This is especially obvious in teenagers, but less so in smaller children.

What Are the Skates That Teenagers Wear?

Teenagers wear senior skates, which is the adult range. If your child takes a size 7.5 shoe or larger, you’ll need to shop from the senior range. The rule for senior skates is slightly different, as you follow a one-and-a-half-sizes-down pattern. For instance, if your teenager takes a size 7.5 shoe, he’ll likely need a 6.0 senior skate.

Here is a handy table to help you size senior skates for your teenager:

Teenager Shoe Size Skate Size
7.5 6.0
8.0 6.5
8.5 7.0
9.0 7.5
9.5 8.0
10.0 8.5
10.5 9.0
11.0 9.5
11.5 10.0
12.0 10.5
12.5 11.0
13.0 11.5
13.5 12.0
14.0 12.5
14 13.0
15 14.0
16 15.0

Remember not to use the same principle for girls. You’ll need to go two or three sizes smaller than the shoe size for girls.

Other Products You Need With Ice Skates

Ice skates need deodorizing, secure storage, and transporting. They may also need occasional sharpening, which you can get done in some hockey equipment stores or possibly at the ice rink. You can even personalize your child’s skates with name tags and fun or coloured laces.

  • Skate guards: Skate guards fit over the blades of the ice skates while your child is in the locker room. Guards protect the sharp edges while off the ice and make it easier for your child to walk around. We recommend the Supergard Skate Guards from Amazon. They’re suitable for kids aged four and over. With the Supergard Skate Guard, you won’t have to sharpen the skates as much.

  • Sharpener: Like the Edge Again Skate Sharpener from Amazon, a skate sharpener is a useful tool to have around if your kids are ice hockey players. It only takes 3 - 10 seconds to sharpen a blade, and your kids won’t even need to take off their skates to use it.

  • Skate socks: Socks are an essential item for any skater; they prevent blisters and ensure the best support. They come in some fun colours and designs, or you can buy plain ones from most ice hockey stores. You can get skate socks featuring your child’s favourite characters or brands. If you want something simple, try the ChalkTalkSPORTS. They come in several colours and have moisture-wicking fabric to prevent blisters.

  • Laces: If your child likes to stand out, try getting them some funky laces for their skates. This is useful if you’re teaching your child how to tie their laces, as it could be just the motivation they need. If your hockey player is a girl, she might like red or pink laces, like these Derby Laces Skate Laces from Amazon. They’re coated with high-performance wax, so they’re ideal for sport, and they come in a wide range of colours.

  • Deodorizer: Ice skates get sweaty, and where there’s sweat, there’s usually a bad smell. You can pick up sprays from your local sports store or try these GEARHALO Deodorizer Pods from Amazon. The pods take the moisture out of the skates, preventing odours. They come in packs of two, so there’s one for each skate, and they’re designed for hockey and lacrosse players.

  • Skate bag: A skate bag is roughly the same shape as a pair of skates and will provide your child’s ice skates with some extra protection in their gear bag. We recommend EALER’s Hockey Skate Bags. They’re heavy-duty and come with shoulder straps for easy carrying.

Does the Rest of the Hockey Gear Come in Youth and Junior Sizes?

Youth and junior helmets are available wherever hockey gear is sold. You can also get a full range of equipment for the entire age range, such as shoulder pads, socks, shin pads, elbow pads, hockey pants, shirts, and gloves.

When buying hockey equipment, make sure your child can move comfortably with the gear’s weight. Hockey gear should never impede your child’s movement in any way, but it should provide adequate protection from falls and hits.

Don’t forget groin guards for boys, as they’re never too young to get badly injured in that area.

When buying your child a hockey stick, check the length against their height on skates, and not their regular height.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we looked at the difference between youth hockey skates and junior hockey skates. We examined the sizing systems and explained the one-size-down rule. We also offered useful tables detailing what size skates your kid might need based on their shoe size.

You can also find information on teenage skates and girls’ skates and a section on ice skate accessories. Finally, we looked at how to tell if skates fit well and what to look out for when buying children’s ice skates.