Sharpening your hockey skates is an important part of playing a strong game.
The blades on your hockey skates get dull over time. The more you use them, the more they get dull, making it harder to turn, generate speed, and stop on the ice.
Whether you just bought brand new hockey skates, or you’ve been skating for a while, you may be wondering just how many times you can sharpen them?
How much is too much?
Well, in this article, we’ll go over how many times you can sharpen your skates… how often you should… and exactly how to tell when it’s time to sharpen them again.
And, if you’re wondering how to make your skates more comfortable, check out our guide here.
Let’s dive in.
Here’s How Many Times You Can Sharpen Hockey Skates:
There’s no real limit to how many times you can sharpen your skates. It’s very normal to sharpen them every 3-10 hours of skating. Elite players sharpen them after every 2nd or 3rd game. However the more you sharpen them, the quicker they’ll wear down over time—and blades typically last 5-8 years.
Can You Sharpen Ice Skates Too Much?
You can’t technically sharpen your skates too much.
Many hockey players will sharpen their skates every few games.
But, if you sharpen your blades too frequently, your blades will begin to wear out prematurely.
However, if you don’t sharpen them often enough, you’ll find yourself losing an edge when you try to turn. Or, you’ll simply be unable to properly control your skates.
You should get a feel for how often your skates need to be sharpened. The best way to do this is to stick to a schedule.
For instance, if you play 2-3 times per week, you could try sharpening them twice per month (or every two weeks).
If you find your performance is dropping by the time two weeks rolls by, then start sharpening them every week or so.
Hockey skate blades typically last about 5 to 8 years for the average skater.
But, if you play a few times a week throughout the year and you’re a hard skater, they might last you 3-5 years.
How Often Should You Sharpen Your Hockey Skates?
The general rule of thumb for sharpening frequency is about every 10-20 hours of ice time.
However, this depends on a variety of factors like how many times per week you’re skating and your level of skating intensity.
If you play two times per week, you should try sharpening them one or two times per month.
If you feel like your skating performance is starting to drop early, then get them sharpened sooner.
There are a three other common factors that come into play when looking at how often your blades will wear down:
1. If you’re playing indoor or outdoor ice hockey
Outdoor ice is typically colder and harder which wears down your edges quicker. Plus, there’s usually some debris on the ice outside (sticks, leaves, dirt) that will wear down your blades more.
2. The temperature of the ice.
As mentioned above, outdoor rinks will likely be colder than your indoor rinks which makes the ice harder and tougher on your blades. However, your rink could be a bit colder as well. Rinks typically range from 17-24 degrees Fahrenheit, so if yours is closer to 24 F, then it will wear your blade down quicker.
3. The Quality of Your Steel (Blade)
The better your steel is, the less you’ll need to sharpen them. Elite-level skates will have much higher quality blades, or steels, on them than entry level or mid-tier skates. These high-level blades will hold an edge much longer, requiring fewer sharpenings.
How Do You Know When To Sharpen Your Hockey Skates?
In order to play at a high level, you need to make sure your gear is maintained at a high level.
This means ensuring your skates are sharp enough on the ice. Otherwise, you’ll start to fall, lose your edge, and you’ll have more difficulty stopping.
It’s normal to get your hockey skates sharpened every 3-10 hours of time on the ice.
Depending on how long your ice times are, this could be every 2-5 sessions.
But, this is just a general framework for a sharpening schedule.
If you want to know what’s best for you, then you need to feel out your edges and start to understand when your skates are at their best.
This means consciously analyzing how your skates feel on the ice right after a sharpening. And… It means taking note of how they’re feeling after you’ve played 3 or 4 games to see if there’s a difference.
The moment you start to notice your skates slipping a bit and getting dull is when you should get them sharpened.
Getting a feel for your blades’ performance on the ice comes with time.
If you wait too long and your blades get dull, you’ll start to have trouble making tight turns and will start slipping a bit.
Here are a few tips to know when to sharpen your hockey skates:
- If your blades are chattering on the ice
- If your blades pull to one side
- If your skates are wobbling more
- If you can’t turn as tightly
- If your blades don’t bite into the ice as good
- If you can feel nicks or gouges in your blade with your finger
Do You Need to Sharpen New Hockey Skates?
If you just purchased some new hockey skates, you may be wondering if you need to sharpen them… or if they come pre-sharpened?\
Brand new hockey skates do not come pre-sharpened.
It’s important to note that the first sharpening of your new hockey skates is the most vital. The bottom of your blades will be very flat and rounded.
They’ll need an initial hollow groove cut into them before you use them for the first time.
Go to your local hockey shop and get a trained skate sharpener to give your skates the edges they need to help you perform well on the ice.
Some hockey shops will even ask you if you want your skates sharpened when you buy them. They’ll usually offer this to you as an additional add-on service.
Just keep in mind if they sharpen your skates, it will typically make your return policy null with the retailer.
How Do You Know When Your Skate Blades Are Dull?
How do you really know if your skates are dull?
Well, thankfully there are a few things you can look for when analyzing the sharpness of your skates:
- Visually inspect your skates every time you play
- Look at your blade—at both inside and outside edges
- Look for nicks or dings on your edges
- Run your finger (slowly and softly) for nicks and gouges
You can check out this video for another nifty trick you can do with your thumb: