Skate Radius and Profiling

What is Profiling?

In simple terms, Profiling is grinding and shaping the "rocker" radius of the skate blade. Still confused? Well think of a rocking chair and the shape of the rocker. If you change the rocker's curve, the chair will either rock faster or slower depending on how it is shaped. If you alter a skate's rocker, it's performance will change too.

All hockey skate blades do come from the factory with a generic rocker radius, sometimes 9 foot, or 11 foot, and others. To better understand what I mean by radius in "feet" and how that applies to skates....lets look at a 11' radius and what that means. Think of a big hula hoop, one that has a 11' radius circle. If you stood it up straight on end, there would be a portion of the hoop that touches the ground. In essence, this is the surface contact area of that 11' radius circle. If you were to make the radius smaller (like that of a real hula-hoop, then less area would be touching the ground. Make it bigger, and more would touch. That's basically what we do to the shape of your blade, make it bigger or smaller to have more or less blade touching the ice. Another example of radius is the earth itself. It has a very large radius. Many originally thought the earth was flat (BTW, their descendants now live in Palm Beach County). Seriously, they thought the earth was flat because it had a big flat surface area where they were standing). If a skate's blade were the radius of the earth, it would have a big flat area too. OK, enough weird science. When we radius, we simply are altering the size of the flat/contact area on your skates blade, the gliding surface in the center of the blade that touches the ice. But, not only does the radius alter the contact area which controls speed, the size of the curvature of the radius also controls turning and agility.

Now, some of you may have heard other players say, "I have a forward radius, or I have a 9' radius." What they are saying is they had their rockers changed to one preferred by forwards, or one shaped to 9' radius. Radiusing (also called Profiling. Contouring, rockering), is a proven process that allows you to select exactly how much blade is in contact with the ice. More blade contact = faster speeds and more stability; less blade contact = easier pivot, turns, and agility. Another part of radius and the overall "profile"  is to change the factory pitch or lie of the blade. This primarily effects balance, maneuverability and control, but also can impact other areas, like responsiveness, smoothness of the stride, and even passing and shooting.  The proper Radius and Pitch will improve your skating and your hockey game.  A blade shape that is not right for your style and stance can cause muscle fatigue, reduced skating efficiency, balance issues (feeling back on your heels for example)and less power for shooting and passing.

Skate blades can be profiled to improve speed, turning and stability. If you watch some of the best skaters in Europe and the NHL, you'll notice they all have a low body stance. This deep knee bend or "sitting" posture is essential to achieving the proper bio-mechanical skating movements that will give you maximum performance in your stride, correct balance and full power during the leg extension. The proper profile, pitch and pivot point on your skate is critical in allowing you to perform the skating maneuvers that will give you an edge over your opponents. This includes quick edge work and pivots, mohawks, and the ability to shift between inside and outside edges on demand. If you possess a large mixture of "moves" it becomes very difficult for the opposition to "read" your next deke or turn and you will be leaving them dazed and confused. If you are not sure what profile you should have, we will help you select what is best for you.

* Improved balance
* Sharper turns
* Quicker turns
* Explosive starts
* Reduced fatigue
* More powerful strides and better glide
* More skating "moves"
* Injury reduction
* Increased agility
* Increased lateral movement
* Increased speed
* Increased stability
* Controlled leg extensions
* Improved stickhandling, passing and shooting

* Left & Right blade radius alignment
 

Benefits of profiling

Why consider a radius for your skates

Well, if you are a serious hockey player, a custom radius can improve your entire game. Here's why. Skates blades made by the various manufacturers are very rudimentary in design and come from the factory with the same generic radius. Think about this, CCM and Bauer don't know you, your experience or how you skate, so they have to have a one-size, fits all rocker that will work just OK for everybody. But at the same time, it's not really great for anyone either. To tune the skate for you, there has to be other options. Compare radius to stick blades. Imagine if hockey sticks only came in one flex and curve. Well, that one curve would only work great for a very small percentage of players. Skate rockers are no different, it is not possible to shape one skate rocker that is perfect for everyone. There are many variables, age of player, experience, position played, brand of skate, etc. CCM skates for example, may come from the factory with a balanced pitch and 10' radius. If you are a forward, that may not be right for you. A better performing radius might be 9', with a forward pitch. Another example may be size 13 youth skates. These come from the manufacturer with a lot of blade surface on the ice, as that size is considered a beginner skate and more blade is needed for stability. However, today, a lot of youths are skating since they were age 2, so by the time they are in a size 13Y, they may have 4 or more years of skating experience. They no longer need a beginner radius, and in many cases that beginner radius is hampering their ability to grow and develop their skating skills.

Another thing you must consider is that even on brand new skate pairs, that about 90% of them come from the factory with a MISMATCHED radius, meaning the left blade's radius is different than the right. How does this happen? Well, skate manufacturers do not make their own blades. They use subcontractors. Most blades are massed produced in the orient. They are then shipped to the skate factory by the crate load, often in different batches  and then slapped on the skates. As with any manufacturing process, the specifications allow for a +/- variance from the desired stock radius. So even though the manufacturer specs may call for a 9' radius, it is entirely possible that one blade could have a 8.5 radius, and the other a 9.5, and the pivot/balance points could be off as well. An improper balanced pair can really mess up your game.

Have you also noticed fatigue, leg pain, or your shots and passes seem weaker for no explainable reason? Well, your current sharpener could have also mismatched  or ruined your radius by applying too much pressure while sharpening or by crossgrinding. Recently, a customer came in with blades with a radius that had been altered so much off center, that he was skating on his heels. His body balance was backwards. Another customer came in with a rocker that had been ground away leaving about 1/2" of blade touching the ice. No wonder he was complaining about having no speed. Our profiling can repair most poor or botched sharpening jobs.  First and foremost, Profiling will ensure your two blade's working radius are matched perfectly. What we mean by working radius is the area in green in the illustration above.  When you get a radius, this is the area that's reshaped.  The heel and toe areas are not altered during a radius. They are best left in factory condition, because once steel is removed from these areas, performance is reduced.

Who should have their skates profiled?

All players can benefit from Profiling. As  said earlier, about 90% of blade's radius's are mismatched, so just simply grinding the same radius and lie to the blades, the skater will achieve better performance. Kind of like getting a front end alignment in your car.  But wait, even more performance can also be achieved!  We all know there are four aspects of skating; acceleration, stopping, gliding and turns. How your blades are shaped effects your performance in each one of those stages. Your "style" and personal preferences will also determine how the skate's blades should be shaped.

Real young players (ages 5-12) and new skaters will benefit the most with a performance profile as they have not had to compensate body positioning and movements to make up for an improper radius and lie. In more simpler terms, they haven't developed bad habits yet.  We want to keep it that way. Their bodies will adjust quickly to the radius's proper body positioning and they will reap huge benefits as they develop their skating skills.

 

Any level of skater can benefit from skate profiling/balancing, but it is the "Terminal Intermediate" who will reap the most rewards from the process. Chances are this skater can't seem to get better no matter how many lessons they take or how much new equipment they buy. This skater is likely not bio-mechanically capable of getting the performance they can out of the skate. That's where profiling comes in. In addition, older skaters have bad habits and poor hockey stance that profiling can correct. For some, it may take a little time for their body to adjust but once it does, full performance gains can be achieved. The transition from non-profiled to profiled is really no more awkward than when you first skate on a new pair of skates. Most adult customers report that it takes one or two skates to adjust, youths even less. But virtually all say they are skating better.

GOALIES, we can profile your skates too! In fact, of all skates, goalies need a profiling the most.  They are extremely flat and just don't work well out of the box for a modern butterfly goalie. We can fine tune your skates for skating performance including better agility around the net,  a comfortable balance and stance, and best of all to take away that "flat" feeling for great pivoting. Also a proper skate sharpening will help achieve powerful pushes, crisp slide stops and also give you the extra confidence to leave the crease to beat that opposing player to the puck!  Talk with us about the different options available.

Lastly, be wary of shops that try to radius radius freehand, that's not radiusing, that's guessing. Only way to radius is with a precision template guide. Also many shops  will just offer limited choices like  9, 11 and 13' , or just 28' for goalies.  What if a 10' or a Combination is your "sweet spot", if they don't offer it, you're missing out on the increased performance you deserve. Since the proper radius is selected based on many factors, including skate blade size, shops with just a few few options may not be able to grind the proper radius for your skates. For example, a junior skate may need a 6' or 7' radius, because it's blade is much shorter than the adult skates. If the closest option offered is 9', the player is going to have too much blade touching the ice in proportion to blade size. Same applies to the larger adult skates like size 13, if your radius is too short you'll be teetering around and lack balance.  A one-size, fits all  9' radius just doesn't work the same on the 13 different size runners that are on skates. We offer virtually every radius in one foot increments from 6' and up. We also offer many different combination radius for the advanced skater. Because combo radius take more time and labor, they cost a little more but they are worth every penny! (Visit our Combination Radius Info Page)

Why us for your radius?

Most shops don't even do custom radius. Those that do might only offer a CAG radius, or just a few single radius choices. We have so many radius options, CAG's, traditional singles, dual combos, triple combos and Quad combos.  Most of our radius's we designed ourselves after extensive testing and feedback from our "beta" testers which consists of skaters of all skill levels. We are certain we have a radius among our choices that will be the perfect fit for you. Why settle for less.  Not to mention, we are true radius experts.  On a typical day we are literally radiusing skates non-stop from opening till closing.  We probably do more in a day than some shops do in a year. One shop near us bought a radius machine and the next day took out a full page ad in a hockey publication claiming to be "Radius Experts".  Seriously, that's like having a first day intern do your heart surgery.

After you've selected us to optimize your blades, we will have you fill out our detailed interview form. From this we will evaluate you and recommend a complete profile we think will work well for you.  Other shops will offer you their house "forward" or "defenseman"  radius,  which they probably give to every skater that walks in the door.  Our many years of experience gives us the ability to tailor a profile specifically for you, not to mention we have numerous unique radius and choices that no other shop has. Why do we have so many choices?  Well, a good example is we have some crazy radius that most skaters hate, but for the handful of skaters it does work for, they love it!  It's all about what works for you.


Most shops that do radiusing charge $40-60 or more. Our prices start at just $31.99 and that INCLUDES a normal skate sharpening! In addition,for our first time customers,  if after testing a radius (that we we selected for you) for 30 days, if you don't like it, we will gladly do one free adjustment.  We usually nail your radius on the first try but the option for fine tuning is there if you need it.  You are also welcome to experiment and try different radius, and we'll help you select options, but sorry only the first adjustment is free.

Also, please don't confuse us with those shops that use crossgrinders to radius skates, or worse those that freehand. Those guys take off a lot of steel off your blade and can burn your steel if not done perfectly. We will cut your radius in using a fine grit grinding wheel set to the same hollow or FBV that's going in the steel. Using this process, very little steel is removed. So little steel is removed you may not even be able to see the difference with your eyes, but, you WILL feel the difference on the ice!

 

Housekeeping

Lastly, keep in mind that all skates that are radiused will need the radius refreshed at some point. Each sharpening alters it a tiny bit and after many sharpenings it can change significantly. If you are having your skates sharpened here, you will only need to refresh once a year or longer depending on how many sets you are rotating. If you are sharpening elsewhere, or at random shops, we recommend you have your skates re-profiled about every 12-16 sharpenings. This will ensure the profile remains constant. Also, anytime you've had a bad freehand sharpening and your profile was ground away you can simply order the same radius we did for you previously to get it back in spec.

After we radius a new set of blades for you, if you want, you can then send us your old blades for a matched radius. You'll then have a spare set, or two sets to rotate. This is the option most customers choose because they eventually send their blades to us for regular sharpenings. Having two sets to rotate is the easiest way to do it. (We have some customers with 7 sets who actualy save a lot on shipping as they only need to mail in the bunch a few times a year)  Note: Please understand that depending on the condition of your old blades, that the new pair and old pair may visually not match exactly, as more steel has been taken off your old blades by numerous sharpenings. Hacks may also of ground down your toe and heel areas.  However, when we are done with them the radius and pitch applied to the bottom  will be exactly the same as your new ones. We do also offer blade matching (between left/right blades) and blade balancing on your old steel at additional cost if they are way out of whack. Some brand new steel is off from the factory as well. A radius doesn't correct this so if you want to be sure your blade pair matches exactly, it may be wise to order our Blade Matching option. Lastly, if for some reason you do not like the first radius we select for you, you are NOT stuck with it, simply send the blades back to us for one FREE adjustment. For details on sharpening by mail, please read our SHARPEN BY MAIL FAQ. Then when you're ready to order, visit our SHOPPING AREA on the home page.