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What do I need to wear?


Sharpen your blades

To learn about sharpening your skates, download and print Caring for your Blades (PDF 41 kb)

There are some basics that you simply can't do without.

For safety, speed skaters wear

  • knee and shin pads
  • a helmet and
  • a neck guard.

You can wear a track suit to skate in, but you might like to wear a "skin suit". For speed, you need skates, call speed skates, that have long flat blades.

You don't have to start off with speed skates but it will help you to go faster once you've found your 'skating legs'. For beginner skaters, most rinks will have skates for you to borrow or hire.

Once you have your own speed skates, for your for your safety and for your speed, you will need to keep your skates sharpened.

To keep your skates sharp, you will need sharpening stones and a jig to hold them steady while they are being sharpened.

As skaters grow, their equipment is often for sale, so getting the kit together need not be expensive.

About the skates and blades

There are two elements to speed skates, the boots and the blade. Your local rink's skate shop will be able to advise you when you want to purchase your own skates. Check out our list of suppliers

There are many varieties of boots, but they have two things in common:

  • they provide ankle support and

  • they have blade mountings to allow you to adjust the offset of the blade. You offset blades to keep the boot from rubbing the ice when leaning into a left turn at high speed. The picture to the right shows an example of a blade mounting - that is, an adjustable bracket.

  • Length of the blade?


    Blade length is chosen based on your size and level of skating skill. The longer the blade, the more skillful a skater you have to be.

    Beginners (children) may start with 12 or 13 inch blades (and yes, the measurements are still in inches). Advanced women skaters, or skaters around 1.69 mt (5ft 7inches) may use 16 to 16.5 inch blades. Advanced male skaters, or skaters over 1.77 mt (5ft 10 inches), may use 17 to 17.5 inch blades.

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