How often you should be sharpening your hockey skates will be completely dependent on how they are being used. If you are playing hockey multiple times per week, then it is likely that sharpening them at least once per month would be the best option, particularly if the play is quite strenuous. However, with light playing (no more than an hour or two per week), you may be able to get away with sharpening them once every three months or so.
How often should you be sharpening your ice hockey skates?
Many rental companies will be sharpening their ice skates every 20-30 hours of use. This is generally what you should be aiming for too. This means that if you are playing 6-hours of ice hockey per week, then you will likely need to be sharpening them every month.
Of course, this doesn’t tell the full story. Some people may need their ice hockey skates sharpened a lot more frequently than others, while some may go dozens and dozens of hours without needing it.
Style of play
This is perhaps the main factor when it comes to how often ice hockey skates need to be sharpened.
The purpose of the blade is to ‘bite’ into the ice. This ensures that you have a grip on even the slipperiest of surfaces.
If you are somebody that plays hard and heavy, then it is likely that you will be pushing your feet firmly into the ground. This means that the ice hockey skates wear down quicker. After all, they are cutting deeper into the ice.
The same goes for sharp turns on the ice. Regular sharp turns will mean that you are wearing your blades down quicker than somebody that spends most of their time skating in a straight line. This is why figure skates will likely need to have their blades sharpened far more often than an ice hockey player.
The heavier you are, the more pressure you will be putting on your feet. This means that the ice skates are going to be digging deep into the ice, even if you didn’t really intend for that to happen. So, if you are on the heavier side of things, you may notice that you need to sharpen your blades a lot more frequently.
The Hardness of the Ice
Hard ice requires a lot more effort for your blades to cut into. This means that the blades will start to dull a lot quicker. It really is as simple as that. Sadly, for the most part, this isn’t something that you really have much control over. However, if you play on multiple rinks, you will likely find that some of them have more of an impact on your blades than others.
The temperature of the ice
Ice skates work by effectively ‘melting’ the ice as they bite into them. This is because as you move, they generate heat.
This means that the colder the ice, the harder the blade needs to work in order to break into it. If you spend most of your time playing on outdoor hockey rinks, then you will likely find that your blades dull quicker. This is because outdoor hockey rinks are naturally colder.
Indoors or outdoors?
Even if you take the ice temperature out of the equation, playing outdoors will still likely damage your blades far quicker. This is because it is a lot easier for debris to get onto the ice rink. Even the smallest of stones can cause a major dulling of your ice hockey skates if you end up hitting it at speed.
The quality of the blade
Higher quality ice skates are made with better steel. Better steel is harder to dull. So, if you find that your blades dull very quickly, it is likely that you have a cheaper pair of ice skates.
How often you maintain the ice hockey skate blade
When you come off of a hockey session, you should be touching the blade up a little bit. Nothing too intense, but you want to give it a little bit of an edge. A simple sharpening stone is all you really need for this, and using them should be pretty simple.
If you keep your blade ‘touched up’, then it is likely that you will be able to wait a longer period of time before it needs a proper sharpen. If you get the kinks out as soon as they start to appear, then they do not really become a major issue. If you leave them to form, you will lose the amount of grip you have on the ice, which can cause serious issues with your game.
How do you know when ice skates need to be sharpened?
As we said before; going by 20-30 hours of regular use is a pretty decent shout. However, some will notice that their ice skates need to be sharpened before this.
If you find that your feet are no longer gripping the ice in the same way that they used to, then it is likely that your skates need to be sharpened. This is going to be especially true if you find that you are regularly falling over when you are trying to do sharper turns on the ice.
Some people also recommend the ‘fingernail’ test. The idea is to run your fingernail across the length of the blade. Just gently. You will know that your ice hockey blades need to be sharpened if this doesn’t cause a scratch in the fingernail. It should cut into it ever so slightly. This is actually the same test that many pros will use to determine whether their blades need to be sharpened. Well, at least their kit guys will use.
If you are new to playing ice hockey, then most people will not be that fussed if you ask them whether your blades need sharpening. A lot of people are more than willing to impart their wisdom. Just look for somebody near the rink, preferably a coach, that doesn’t seem to be all that busy. Obviously, do not ask the people that sharpen blades, they will tell you that they will need to be sharpened no matter what!
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What happens when ice hockey skates are not sharpened?
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When your ice skates are not properly sharpened, they will not grip the ice correctly. This means that you will have less control over your movements. In fact, you will likely end up slipping up a lot.
No matter what happens, unsharpened ice skates mean that your game will be hampered. You will not be able to turn as quickly. You will not be able to move as quickly. You will become a far less effective player on the ice rink.
People are surprised at how quickly this happens too. It often only takes a few hours of ice skating to see changes in the way that you move. Although, of course, for amateur players, this probably isn’t going to be something that you need to worry about too much. For pro players, ice hockey skates will likely need to be switched out regularly to maintain their game.
How do you sharpen ice hockey skates?
Honestly, if you have to ask this question, then you probably shouldn’t be sharpening your own ice hockey skate blades. If you do things incorrectly, then you could cause permanent damage to your ice skates, which can cause a few issues.
That being said, once you start getting into ice hockey, it may be worth investing in a set of light ‘touch up’ tools. As you play ice hockey, you can use these tools to gently touch up your ice skates. Just a quick sharpen here and there, or maybe the removal of a small nick. You should not be using them for a full sharpening.
Ideally, whenever your ice hockey skates need sharpening, you will be taking them to a professional. This is affordable, and you do not have to worry about your prized ice skates being ruined!
Can you sharpen your ice hockey skates too often?
When you sharpen ice hockey skates, you will be removing a very fine layer of metal from the skates. This means that, over time, the skates will begin to wear down. There will be a point where you can’t really sharpen the skate any more without hampering the quality of it. This means that you will need to replace them.
This means that, ideally, you would be sharpening your skates as little as possible while also ensuring that your game is not hampered. It can be quite a delicate balancing process, but as you start to play ice hockey more and more, you will begin to get a feel for when you need to sharpen your ice skates.
Remember; quality ice hockey blades are likely to last a lot longer than cheaper ones. So, it may actually be worth investing in a quality pair of ice hockey skates at the start. It may actually save you a lot more money in the long term. They tend not to blunt as quickly, and thus need less-frequent sharpening.