Much rides on the quality of a hockey player's blade - speed, sharp turns and quick stops all depend on a properly sharpened blade. A good sharpening of a hockey skate consists of square even edges, a proper hollow and good contour. When you skate, you are actually gliding on a thin layer of water created from the friction of the blade pressing on the ice. Any nicks on a blade will alter the amount of control you have over your skate, as well as affect your speed. A blade needs to be sharpened if it is either dull, or if it has grooves, gouges or nicks in it that are affecting a player's skating ability.
Carefully feel the edges of your blade with your finger, without putting pressure on it. If the blades feel dull, they need to be sharpened.
Examine your blade under a bright light. If you see reflection from the edge, it needs to be sharpened. Sharp blades don't reflect light.
Notice if you are having difficulty changing direction or making quick turns. If so, it's probably time for a blade sharpening.
Make a schedule of how often you bring your blades in to be sharpened. Some players prefer a sharpening before each game, others can do weekly sharpenings. Once you know your preference, stick to your schedule to prevent dull blades.
- Make sure you have the correct hollow setting for your blade. Most hockey players use a one-half-inch radius. Beginner skaters usually use five-eighths or three-fourths radius. The deeper the hollow, the better the blade will grip the ice for turns and stops, but the slower it will be.
- Deep cuts will slow you down, however, and you will need more energy and stronger pushes to go faster.
- Experienced skaters and defensemen need sharp edges to be able to turn quickly and change direction.
- Goaltenders often like dull blades because it allows them to slide from side to side better.