Pros: Adjustable, comfortable, easy to put on, long runner
Cons: It's a rare product that doesn't really have any and this is one
Growing up hockey
Hockey players are constantly coming to me wanting to put their kid who just started walking on skates. There is a certain size where kids are too small to get started. Its pretty evident by the lack of skates smaller than a size 9 youth. The Tyke is the youth skate that Ive always recommended.
Hockey vs. Figure
Theres a debate that rages centering on what type of skate kids should use when learning to skate. Generally learn to skate programs are taught by women, more specifically figure skaters. Theres a simple reason for this. Figure skaters are far better skaters (in general) than hockey players. Ask a hockey player how many edges are on a blade and they will tell you twoinside and outside. Ask a figure skater and they will answer fourthe inside edge of the inside, the outside edge of the inside, the outside edge of the outside and the inside edge of the outside. Anyone using both sides of both edges enough to count them is skating better than I. I only use all four edges when I feel the need to trip myself.
That reminds me, I need to sharpen my skates. Ill be back in five minutes . . .
Sorry for the interruption. They are good to go now, slightly warm from the sharpener, shiny and ready to go fast. Now where was I? Yeah, the debate . . .
Here are the key points. Figure skaters will generally recommend that new skaters start on figure skates for one simple and basic reason. Figure skates have flatter blades. Its a true and valid point. A flatter blade lends to greater front to back stability. Figure skates typically have an average rocker (the curve on the bottom of the blade) of about 30 feet in diameter. Hockey skates are normally 9 to 11 feet. I wont argue that point at all.
The other side of the coin is that smaller kids will often grow dependent on the toe pick. They will use it to push themselves, stop themselves and kick their parents once in a while. Of course the main fear is that they wont learn to skate properly using the toe pick as a crutch. Then there is the other irrational fear that their son will grow up to wear a tutu. Thats just silly, male figure skates dont wear tutus!
This is the first reason that I like the Tyke. It has a hockey style blade with a long rocker that gives the stability of a figure skate blade. This gives kids the stability they need to learn to skate without any fear of them abusing the toe pick or wearing tutus. Its also great if kids love hockey as they often already do at a young age. They can start in hockey skates instead of figure skates (and trust me, most of them know the difference).
Dont get me wrong, the Tyke isnt really a hockey skate. Its a recreational skate with a hockey blade. So its more a hockey style skate. For really little kids, it might not matter, but once they get a year of skating under their belts, dont do them the disservice of putting them in an insufficient skate to play hockey.
Reason two that I like the Tyke is that its adjustable. No one likes buying a new pair of skates for their kid every year. Its even worse when you have a five-year-old who is changing foot size every three weeks. The Tyke line is adjustable and fits three foot sizes. It comes in a small, medium and large. Small fits size 9-11 youth. Medium fits 12-1 and for sizes 2-4 the large works.
Adjusting the skates is simple. All you need to do is press the button on the back of each skate, then slide them to the appropriate size. There are markers that indicate what size you are setting them for and they lock in place with a snap. The only other thing you will need to do is replace the insoles with the new larger size (unless your kid has shrinking feet in which case Id say put a smaller one in and call the doctor).
The Tyke uses a plastic boot much like a ski boot. Its a two-piece boot with a rear-sliding heel to allow for size adjustment. Forward flex is fixed. Instead of laces, the Tyke even utilizes a pair of ski boot style buckles. This means less time for mom or dad lacing up the skates. A removable comfort liner sits in the boot, much like a thick sock.
Fit of the Tyke is pretty broad as it doesnt offer a tremendous amount of stiffness and lower boot support. I dont think I ever had a kid who wasnt happy with the fit in the small or medium Tykes. When you get to the bigger sizes, kids are often ready for a little more skate and they are more vocal about what youre sticking on their feet though.
A pair of carbon steel blades comes on the Tyke. They are attached by way of a molded holder that is integrated with the boots so the holder and steel is not replaceable. Its pretty unlikely this will be an issue though. Carbon steel isnt as prone to breakage as stainless. Further, it isnt going to be subjected to the rigors of hockey. Lastly, its unlikely that you will sharpen away the steel on a pair of youth skates before junior outgrows them.
For a pair of $40 skates, the steel on the Tykes is really pretty good. Ive found the steel to be consistently easy to sharpen for the first time. Ive had a large number of more expensive adult skates that had much lower quality steel runners. The nickel plating doesnt seem to chip off quite as easily as it does on some carbon steel runners either.
Do make sure to get the sharpened. Skates dont come pre-sharpened and trying to skate on them dull is worse than walking on the ice in shoes. Theres no point in frustrating your future hockey star right off the bat. A deep hollow, like 3/8s is a good starting point as it offers excellent edge bite and minimal glide for learning skaters.
The Tyke seems to be the perfect starter skate for future hockey players. Its going to get them through a couple of years where youre spending enough of money on clothes and shoes without having to buy three pair of skates as well. The runner is flat enough to give them quick confidence on the ice. Theres no toe-pick to use a crutch. The skate design is durable, comfortable and fits a wide variety of foot shapes. Do keep in mind that skate sizes run smaller than shoe sizes though. If your child is in a 10 shoe, the appropriate skate size is likely a 9 and possibly even an 8.
? 2007 Scott Noble All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited.
You might also enjoy my book on hockey, Hockey for Weekend Warriors. Click here to read the reviews.