Skate Blade Radius
The amount of blade that's on the ice
An important factor in your ability to skate well is the radius of your hockey skate blades. The skate blade radius is the amount of the blade that is actually in contact with the ice while you are skating. Some players prefer to have a large amount of the blade on the ice while others prefer a smaller amount of the blade in contact with the ice surface.
The radius of a skate blade is measured by placing the two skate blades together, bottom to bottom and holding them up. The length where the blade edges make contact with each other is the radius.
Beginners need to have as much of the skate blade on the ice as possible, approximately five inches when they are learning to skate. This will help provide you stability on the ice. As you progressively become a better skater you may want to change or experiment with your skate blade radius. A smaller blade radius of about three to four inches will help you to cut and turn on your skates a little bit quicker and will help to give you more mobility.
The position you play on the ice and the style of game you play may also change your skate blade radius preference. Defensemen usually prefer a longer radius for stability, while forwards often prefer a shorter radius for better maneuverability and quickness. Goaltenders, like defensemen, usually have most of the skate blade on the ice. However, it basically comes down to a personal decision. If you are just learning to play the goaltender's position you would be well advised to use a larger blade radius until you have the position mastered before thinking about experimenting with a smaller radius.
It is a good idea to ask your skate sharpener about skate blade radius and try to find out which length is the best for your style of skating and play. One small problem with this technique is that most skate sharpening is done by hand and the radius isn't always consistent at each sharpening. However, there are some computerized skate sharpening machines out there which try to give you a consistent sharpening each time. Setting the radius on the blade is sometimes referred to as "rockering" the blade. When you are setting the radius of your skate blades remember that you want the centre portion of the blade on the ice, not the front or the back of the blade.