If you’ve never heard of your skate profile, then your skates are likely not performing to their potential. Your skate profile will determine how much of your blade is in contact with the ice at any given movement. Recent developments in sharpening machines mean that you no longer have to use whatever profile your skate manufacturer mass-produced for your skate. Propsharp profiling can help you get the right skate profile for your style of play.
In this article I will discuss:
- 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 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 article, we will use the word profile.
Profiling for goalie skates is a relatively new service available to the general public. Goalies who play in the pros have had access to limited goalie-specific profiles for quite some time. The needs of a goalie differ significantly from those of a forward or defenseman, but most shops in the retail environment do not have the expertise and equipment necessary to meet the needs of a modern goaltender. You can read about my personal experience here: https://simmonshockey.com/skate-profiling-for-goalies
A hockey skate profile is measured as the radius of an imaginary circle illustrated below, 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. This is also different from the most common goalie profile we sell, the “Goalie Sam”, which has a 50mm flat spot in the middle with a 10’ toe radius and a 27’ rear radius. 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. How could they possibly select a skate profile that is best for you and everyone else who buys the same skate? My friend is a 250lb defenseman, and I am a 145lb forward who loves to fly through center ice, and we both wear a size 10 skate. We use very different profiles, of course!
I’ve had these skates for years. I’m not changing now!
Fun fact: your skate profile is not the same as it was. Your left and right skates are probably not even the same. See our article on sharpening for more detail: https://simmonshockey.com/skate-sharpening-basics
Pictured above is a tool that is used for measuring the skate profile. This particular blade has just over a 15 foot profile as indicated by the dial gauge. It uses two calibrated pins along a beam with a micrometer in the middle. A flat line would show both pins and the micrometer as having zero difference along the flat plane. The distance in the middle between the two pins shows us an average radius.
Surprisingly, we see significant variations even on new skates due to manufacturing tolerances. More commonly, excessive pressure when sharpening will deform the blades causing divots or hollow areas. This is especially common on the first sharpening of new steel, as more material must be taken off to get the initial hollow on the steel.
Different profiles create significant differences in the feel and performance characteristics of your blade.
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 direction changes.
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. I recommend customers do not change their hollow immediately, as changing too many things at once can make it difficult to diagnose any issues or complaints. 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 half-inch hollow, then we would recommend going down to a five-eighths inch hollow. Personally, I went from a five-eighths to 1-inch switching from stock, un-profiled steel to a quad zero profile.
Update October 2020: forward and rear bias
Forward bias is something that helps many players increase agility and their ability to transition. When we grind a stock single radius skate in favor of a triple or quad profile, we can see that most of the material is taken out of the front of the blade. This is part of the reason why people like the feeling and performance of the multi-radius profile. There are really two ways to create, or change the forward bias of a player’s skate. Either you can change the pitch or the pivot point. With a ProSharp Triple or Quad profile, the decreasing radius on the front of the blade means that we can move the pivot point toward the rear of your skate to add forward bias. The opposite can also help, if more stability is desired then we move the pivot point forward making the larger radius on the rear cover more of the skate.
Understanding your hockey skate profile can help your on ice performance since your profile caters to your play style. Goalie style especially has changed over the years, and it’s important that your skate profile changes with it.
For the reasons mentioned, ProSharp is trusted by many professional teams. Our favorite NHL team is using ProSharp. Is yours? https://prosharp.us/pages/about-us
Thank you for reading our article. If you have any questions or comments please send us an email to Sales@simmonshockey.com
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