Ice Hockey Goalie Skates Vs Player Skates: 3 Differences
I remember when I started ice hockey, and I didn’t even know that hockey goalies use different skates as they look quite similar, especially when on the ice. After months passed, I was curious why goalies needed hockey skates of their own and not player skates. In this article, I will explain why there are different skates for ice hockey goalies and players and the difference between the two.
Ice hockey goalies’ skates vary from player skates in boot, blade, and protection. A goalie skate cut is shorter than a player boot, and it doesen’t feature a tendon guard on the back. Also, goalie skates have more protective material, and the blade is longer, thicker, and less curvy for optimal movement.
The skate difference is that players and goalies are in different positions that require different skill sets. Ice skates are designed for both positions, so they will enhance the needed skills, which makes them different. That said, take a quick look at where are both skates designed for
- Fast stops
- Quick movement changes
- Side to side movement
- Extra protection
There’s so much more I want to tell you, so stick with me, and you’ll learn everything!
Three Differences Between Goalie Skates and Player Skates
Three differences distinguish goalie skates from player skates; boot, blade, and protection. Let’s start with the boot.
When it comes to the boot, you would think that the goalie boot is higher on the ankle to protect the goalkeeper from pucks. However, this isn’t the case as goalie skates are shorter than player skates, with a valid reason.
A shorter cut and the absence of a tendon guard on the back of the boot drastically increase the range of motion of hockey goalies. Quick side-to-side movement, overall position adjustments, and stability is important and better achieved with a shorter boot.
The fact that goalie skates don’t have a tendon guard won’t put them in harm’s way as the hockey pads cover a large area on the back feet.
The front tongue on the goalie skates is also shorter than in player skates, again for better mobility.
When looking at hockey player boots, they have a higher cut, full tendon guard, and a longer front tongue. That’s because players don’t have goalie pads that give significant protection, so the skates must be higher to protect the players.
The blade on goalie and player skates differ significantly as well. When examining goalie skates, the blade is longer and thicker, and it isn’t as curvy from the ends as the player skates.
A long, thick, straight blade helps the goalies move because the blade will get better traction from the ice as it has more area in contact with the ice.
Side-to-side movement and overall control are essential for the goalkeepers to keep the goal as puck free as possible. In addition, the blades need to be sharpened far more often than the player skates.
In contrast, the player skates are shorter, thinner, and curvier on the ends. This helps the players adjust direction very quickly and in overall agility.
When comparing speed skates to hockey skates, or any skates, the blade is by far the longest. There it’s due to increased speed, not overall maneuverability.
Protection is very important for both ice hockey players and goalies, yet the puck is intentionally shot towards the goalies, making it more important.
However, goalie skates feature more protective material all over the boot, especially in the skate’s toes, sides, and back. The blades usually feature increased durability because a puck repeatedly shot at them is a lot of force.
In contrast, hockey players need protection too because pucks will get shot towards them too, other players will smash your legs on their sticks, and give fierce tackles where your feet will get hit.
I already mentioned that player skates are longer with a tendon guard on the back for protective reasons. However, the boot is fully hard as well.
You can see a big difference in other ice skates compared to protection. For example, when comparing hockey skates to figure skates, you’ll notice that figure skates are hardly protected at all.
The boot, blade, and protective design are the three main differences between ice hockey players and goalie skates. For a quick comparison, check out the data table below.
|Feature||Player Skates||Goalie Skates|
|Boot||Higher cut with tendon guard||Shorter cut without tendon guard|
|Blade||Shorter, thinner, and curvier||Longer, thicker, and straighter|
|Protection||Less protection||More protection|
Can You Use Regular Hockey Skates as a Goalie?
Now that you know the differences between player skates and goalie skates, you might wonder whether you can use player skates as a goalie. If you’re a versatile player, you might play as a player and goalie from time to time, and given that hockey skates aren’t exactly cheap, knowing it is important.
Generally, you can use regular hockey skates as a goalie if you play recreationally at a low level of play. However, if the players can shoot powerful shots, getting goalie skates is necessary for your protection.
Here are a few scenarios you don’t necessarily need goalie skates;
- You are a junior
- You play occasionally
- Other players can’t shoot powerful shots
Here are instances where you need goalie skates;
- You take ice hockey seriously
- You play hockey at a high level of play
- Other players shoot powerful shots
Even if you play occasionally, your opponents can shoot powerful shots, so you should get goalie skates as one accurate shot to the wrong part of your leg can break bones and cause pain. That’s why you should get goalie skates if you play as a goalie.
Can a Player Wear Goalie Skates?
Turning the tables around, are goalie skates good for playing ice hockey as a player in the offense or defense?
According to rule 302 of the USA Hockey Rulebook, All participants must wear hockey skates of a design approved by the Rules Committee. The use of speed skates, figure skates, or any skate so designed that it may cause injury is prohibited. Thus, players can’t wear goalie skates in ice hockey.
This has spread confusion as the rulebook doesen’t clearly state that you can’t use goalie skates as a hockey player, period. However, goalie skates have longer, thicker, and pointer blades that can cause injury to others, so it’s prohibited.
People have been removed from the game when a referee notices a player, often changed from the goalie position to a player wearing goalie skates.
If you play recreationally and other people are aware of your skates and agree to play with the slightly increased injury risk, then it’s more than fine. However, in official games, stick with the player’s skates.
Is It Harder to Skate In Goalie Skates?
Ice skating is fun, and there are many different ice skates. Yet, ice skating isn’t equally easy or hard with all skates. Given today’s topic and the obvious fact that skating is easy with player skates, the answer to whether it’s hard to skate in goalie skates is good to know.
Ice skating is harder in goalie skates than regular hockey skates because the blade is longer and thicker, and the boot isn’t as stable. Player skates are higher with a tendon protector on the back, giving extra stability that goalie skates don’t have.
However, goalkeeper movement, such as side-to-side movement and pushing off the ice, is easier thanks to the increased blade size in length and thickness. There are separate goalie skates, as the movement of both players and goalies is different.