Bladetech Hockey's Sharpening Series is all about getting the most out of your blades to make you a better skater and, ultimately, a better player. In Part 2 of the series, we look at "Profiling", what it is and why it's important for you as a skater.
In this blog, we cover:
- What is skate profiling, and why should I care?
- Isn’t the manufacturer’s profile fine?
- I’ve had these skates for years. I’m not changing now!
- Skate Profiling for Players
- How do I choose a skate profile?
What is hockey skate profiling, and why should I care?
Hockey skate profiling is a term used to describe the shape of an ice skate blade where it makes contact with the ice viewing from the side. Other terms for hockey skate profiling you may hear are rocker, radius (not to be confused with a radius of hollow), or contouring. For the purposes of this blog, we will use the word profile.
A hockey skate profile is measured as the radius of an imaginary circle typically in feet. If you were to draw a large circle with a 9-foot radius and then match the side profile of the steel to that circle, you would create a 9-foot radius profile on that steel. Major manufacturers ship skates with profiles between 9’ and 13’ for player steel and 27’ to 50’ for goalie steel.
Goalies have a large profile to provide a flatter surface, whereas youth skates for players require a much smaller radius. Many new goalie skates come with a 30’ profile. This is a stark change from the old days where goalies wanted their steel as flat as possible. Goaltending techniques have significantly shifted over the years, and extreme mobility has become the pinnacle of the position.
Isn’t the manufacturer’s skate profile fine?
The manufacturer who made your skates doesn’t know you or your style of play, tendencies, or habits. It's not possible to select a skate profile that is best for you and everyone else who buys the same skate. For example, a 250 pound defenseman and I am a 165 pound forward maybe both be a size 10 and buy the same skate. Their needs and style of play will be vastly different, so of course they will need very different profiles!
Skate Profiling for Players
A smaller profile such as 8 to 9 feet is excellent for agility, quick starts and stops, and quick acceleration. The downside to a smaller profile is that you bite more into the ice. This creates more stress on joints, requires a deeper hollow, and requires more energy to keep your speed. You lose glide with a smaller profile, so you must move your feet more to keep your speed up.
The opposite is true for a larger radius. An 11 to 13-foot radius is excellent for glide and speed. The larger contact area on the ice makes you dig in less, and it requires a shallower hollow to achieve your desired grip level. The downside to a larger profile is that you lose acceleration and agility. It is more common for European players to have these larger profiles as they use Olympic-sized ice and play a more fluid game than the NHL ice sizing, which requires more starts/stops and quick changes of direction.
Companies such as ProSharp have developed different profiles that have as many as four different radius’s on the blade to maximize each of these characteristics based on what you are trying to achieve. The most popular Prosharp profile is the “Quad” line of profiles. These profiles put a smaller radius on the front of the blade, with a gradually increasing radius as you move back. This allows you to have the agility you want in the corners while your weight is forward on your toes, meaning you can change directions quickly and start from complete stops. As your weight transfers back to the middle of your foot for gliding, you pivot back slightly on the steel, allowing you to reap the benefits of the larger radius on the back for better glide and speed.
How do I choose a skate profile?
Choosing a skate profile can be difficult, and you may need to try a few to find the one that suits you best. Much of the decision comes down to a particular player’s style of play. Are you a grinder who likes to battle in the corners? A smaller radius may benefit you. Are you a stay-at-home defenseman who likes to glide through the neutral zone? A larger radius is better for you.
ProSharp has developed it’s triple and quad skate profiles to optimize the length of the blade for most high-level players, proportional to a skater’s size. This is a fantastic place to start if you’re new to skate profiling. Heavier players may want to scale up while lighter players may want to scale down, or you can adjust the radius of hollow for bite. See the chart below about Prosharp profiling for more information.
When considering a profile, you must also consider your radius of hollow. It is recommended to change the profile first and keep the same hollow, as changing too many things at once can make it difficult to diagnose a profile's effectiveness. Typically, for someone going from a stock 9-foot radius to a Quad profile, we see customers going down 1 “step” from their standard hollow of choice. For example, if you are used to a 1/2" hollow, then we would recommend going down to a five-eighths inch hollow. (See our blog on "Skate Blade Hollows")
*Courtesy of https://simmonshockey.com/skateprofiling