Understanding the world of skate sharpening.

Special collaboration of:

Claude Éric Berthiaume, manager, Hockey Experts Rockland

Andrew Morrison, pro-service manager, Hockey Experts Rockland


The skate sharpening is probably the most important, and misunderstood, part of a hockey player’s equipment.

A player could have the best hockey stick and hockey skates with flawless skating technique, but all the fancy equipment and skill is nothing more than decoration if he cannot accelerate, stop and turn when he needs to. And yet, players have no problem going to the local arena to get their skates sharpened by someone who probably has no idea what he or she is doing. Add to that, if the player does not know about sharpening, then he does not know if they are getting good or bad sharpening, or even what the proper sharpening for them is. That is a recipe for disaster, or at the very least, a regrettable game for the player. Here we will talk a bit about basic concepts of sharpenings, difference in cuts, and exactly what services are offered at Hockey Experts Rockland.

The technical basics

When a player skates on the ice, he is actually gliding a thin sheet of water that rests in between the blade and the ice. A skate sharpening is the act of cutting a grove (Hollow) down the center of a skate blade to float on that thin sheet of water. The two edges on either side of the blade that appear from this grove are what skaters use to cut into the ice for turning and stopping. Depending on how deep the hollow is will determine the angle of the edges. These edges will translate to the feeling of ‘sharpness’ (deep hollow) versus ‘glide (shallow hollow)’. The rule of thumb is: The sharper the feel, the less it will glide. This is due to friction. If the hollow is deep, then the edges will have a thinner angle (sharper), which means that more of the blade stays in the ice which will slow down the player. Although, with a thinner angle, the player has more grip and therefor can turn quicker, accelerate quicker and stop faster. The trick is using all this information to find the right hollow for each player. Not always easy. As a player, it is best to know what kind of player you are (not position but style), and that will help us determine what the best cut is for you.

Different Cuts

Determining the right cut for a player depends on player style, weight and leg strength. At Hockey Experts Rockland, we offer a full range of cuts from 3/8” (Deep hollow) to 1 ½” (very shallow hollow). An average forward cut is 1/2 “, while a ¾” is average for defenseman and goalies average is 1”. The normal cut at Hockey Expert Rockland is 7/16”, which is a slight bit sharper than average. If you have ever found that the cut of your sharpening is not perfectly suited to you, drop by the pro service counter and any one of our technicians would love to talk to you about finding precisely the right cut for you. Remember: Deeper cut does not always mean a more aggressive player; Crosby and Ovechkin both skate on 1” cuts.

Other sharpening concepts

Along with regular sharpening, Hockey Experts Rockland also offer other sharpening services. The first is blade contouring. This involves changing the shape of your skate blade to alter your balance point and agility while on your skates.  Using this service can change numerous aspects of your skating, from becoming a more aggressive forward to a more agile defenseman and even a more responsive goalie. It is a more extreme option that is not for everyone, but when used effectively, can change your game from good to great. The other is call flat bottom sharpening. This is a different method of sharpening in which we remove the hollow of the sharpening in the blade while maintaining the edge angles. This makes the feeling of the blade much more ‘slippery’, as it effectively removes the friction between the blade and the ice. This type of sharpening can help a player maintain his speed longer, but does not make the player faster. Ask a pro service technician for more details.

Don’t forget, when you have a proper sharpening on your skates, it can take your performance from good to great. That can be the difference between a win and a loss. The pro service technicians at Hockey Experts Rockland are here to help make that happen. Look forward to seeing you soon!