How to Select the Right size Boots/Skates


Photo by Kevin Drum (

How to Select the Right Size Boots

When it comes to acquiring new skates, there are enough choices to make your head spin.  Preparing to make a commitment to footwear that binds four wheels to each of your feet can seem daunting.  Since you’ve probably already heard your share of opinions on different setups, I’ll save you some of the guesswork and share my opinion on sizing the boots that you select.

Proper-fitting roller skate boots can enhance your on track performance and prevent injuries.  The best designed skate boots in the world will not do their job if they do not fit properly.  Become an informed shopper, and check out these fitting guidelines and facts before purchasing new boots.

If possible, purchase your boots from a derby shop, or skate shop that sells quad, inline, or ice skates at the very least.  The staff will ask you questions about your skating style and podiatric history.  They will also measure your feet (length and width are preferred) which should be done regardless of where you buy from.  One of your feet is usually bigger than the other, so be sure to MEASURE BOTH OF THEM, and size to the bigger one (unless your going the full custom route).  Most boot manufacturers provide instructions for measuring your feet on their website.  The link for how to measure your feet for Bont’s sizing (any company actually) is here. Remember, you may pay more when buying from a physical shop, but you’re also supporting a local business, and improving your chances of obtaining the right boots for you.


Photo by payachi (

Since derby is an athletic venture, you’ll want to strongly consider treating your boots as athletic footwear. The boot should provide a thumb’s width of space between the longest toe and the end of the toe box.  This will allow for more natural foot splay under high exertion conditions, as well as being able to extend your toes fully when standing.  If you’ve ever skated for more than 30 minutes in boots that are too tight, you understand how painful your feet can become.  Foot splay, that is closer to barefoot, alleviates most foot pain, as well as improves the functioning of your lower body.  So be sure to measure your thumb’s width (from the side), or just add between 3/8” and ½” (or more if you’re a larger person) to your feet’s measurements.

The optimal time to try on boots is after a training session, or at the end of your day.  Both circumstances will better simulate a skating session, as your feet will be at their largest (normal swelling due to gravity and movement).  Also, wear the same type of sock that you will wear when skating.  Plus it’s nice to have a change of socks!  If possible, you’ll want to skate in the boots before you buy them.  This will rely heavily on finding somebody with similar size feet, and have the boots that you’re thinking about.  Be sure to re-lace the boots to match your preferred lacing pattern as well. (Check these out here)

Once laced up, the boots should grip each heel firmly.  If you’re trying the boots on, you can at least perform some standing squats in them to put your ankle through partial flexion and extension to assess the heel cup.  If there’s any play, don’t be afraid to try adding a set of neoprene ankle sleeves underneath or on top of your socks.  These will also alleviate ankle discomfort during your first few skate sessions.


All skate boots have a fairly large degree of rigidity compared to tennis shoes, due to the sole and upper materials.  So expect a break in period, determined by several factors (skater size, intensity, temperature, etc.), of at least a few hours. Luckily, most boots are now moldable, so taking the time to heat treat your boots will accelerate your break-in period.  There are also ways to adjust the counters in your new boots (these help add rigidity without too much weight), so don’t be afraid to ask your league mates or hop online to search out different options.

The content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnoses or treatments. If you need medical advice, contact your primary doctor.  For further information, please visit

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