Preventing Falls: the Importance of Skate Sharpening

Okay parents, let’s talk about the inevitable...falling. Falling on the ice is going to happen. A lot. but, it’s completely normal and expected - especially for beginners. If you’re going to freak out every time your child loses their feet, you’re not ready to watch them play ice hockey. But, that’s what the pads are for. So, just relax.

Falling isn’t just part of the game, it’s basically impossible to avoid for new skaters because it’s usually attributed to their lack of experience, being off balance, or getting knocked down by other beginners. The good news is they will learn to avoid these pitfalls as their skating improves. But there’s one culprit that all the experience in the world can’t help them with - dull skate blades. The forth-coming is a quick guide for knowing the what, where and why of keeping your child’s skates sharp and ready for action.

Why?

Well, even the best skaters will stumble if their skates aren’t sharp. Also, proper skating techniques are difficult to learn, and even more difficult to master with dull skates.

When?

The short answer is whenever they feel dull. However, new skaters likely won’t have a feel for that early on since the entire act of skating will be foreign to them. Also, it’s difficult to pinpoint a time frame because some kids skate more often and more aggressively than others. So, a good rule of thumb to go by is that youth skates should probably be sharpened after every 5-10 hours of use. But when you notice your child having more difficulty than usual planting, turning, and performing other hockey moves, their personal time frame will become apparent.

Where?

Skate sharpening in an art and science. It’s not something just anyone can do. Your best bet is to get them sharpened at the local rink where you play. The staff will have knowledgeable people on hand who know what they’re doing. Now, if you’re in a pinch and don’t have time to get them sharpened before the next game or practice, I suggest keeping a sharpening tool in your child’s hockey bag. I use a product called “Re-Edger.” It sells for around $15. It won’t take the place of a sharpening, but it will help smooth out any nicks to get you through a practice or game. Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isAc-bBoYSM.

Can skates ever be too sharp?

YES! Players under the age of 13 should generally not have their skates over sharpened. Extra sharp skates can cause a few problems for youth skaters like slowing them down, causing them to twist their ankles on sudden stops, and reduce glide as the skates sink deeper into the ice. Extra sharp skates are meant for older players with stronger legs and ankles. The depth, or “hallow” of the skate blade determines its sharpness. The radius is measured in millimeters as follows: 9mm, 11mm, 13mm,15mm, 18mm. Youth players typically want to stay between 13mm - 18mm.

Sharp as a tack!

Now you have the info you need to keep your child’s skates sharp and safe. So get them on the ice and have some fun!

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