How to Choose the Right Hockey Skate Hollow

How to Choose the Right Hockey Skate Hollow

While there is no right or wrong hockey skate sharpening radius, finding the one that feels natural to your brand of hockey is crucial to your performance on the ice. To that end, the three most important things to consider when picking your skate edge are your skill, size, and style. From Pee Wee to pro, all skaters should take the time to understand how they can benefit from a personalized skate hollow.

What Is the Skate Blade Radius of Hollow?

The ‘hollow’ refers to the concave groove ground into the bottom surface of the skate blade; the ‘radius of hollow,’ or RoH, refers to the depth of that groove.

1. Your Skating Skill Should Influence the Radius of Hollow

A good rule of thumb when first learning how to play hockey is to keep your hollow radius at or around ½”. This size allows for a good deal of harmony between how deeply the blade cuts into the ice and how fast you can actually get going. Rink veterans have already established their role on the ice and have adjusted their skating edges accordingly. But it’s a good idea to keep things simple while you or your child is still learning the ropes. Being malleable as a player is a valuable trait, especially when you’re still growing or don’t quite know where you fit in on a rotation. Over time players can start experimenting with different hollows to add further nuance to their game.

2. Understand How Your Size Relates to Your RoH

Generally speaking, as players grow, so too should their hollow radius so as to maximize their speed and turning capabilities. But the larger you are, the more force you exert on the ice, and in a game of momentum this can drastically alter how your skates perform with certain hollow radii. Heavier, stronger players naturally dig their skates deeper into the ice, so they don’t need a deeper RoH (¼”- ½”), as their bodies will naturally compensate. On the flip side, lighter weight and more nimble players can’t generate enough force to effectively dig with shallow hollows (¾” – 1”), which results in longer turns. Thus, your height and weight are extremely important in choosing the correct RoH.

3. Define Your Style Before Choosing Your Skate Hollow

Understanding how you play—or want to play—on the ice can indicate which skate hollows you may want to try. A smaller hollow radius might maximize your potential as a grinder but leaves you open to defeat in a race down the stretch. Conversely, players with larger hollows enjoy more straight-line speed but aren’t as laterally mobile in space. Coaches may have preferences for different hollow sizes based on how they like to run their offensive and defensive systems. Being in tune with the expectations of your role on the ice and finding common ground with how you see yourself as a player can be important factors in deciding what skate blade radius to choose.

Skate Hollow Sizing by Position

While it’s important to decide for yourself the hollow radius of your skate based on your skill, size, and style, there is some commonality to the blade hollow sizes per position on the ice:

  • Wing – ⅜” to ⅝”: Being able to cut in and out of the opposing defense is a must for wing players. Operating in space is the name of the game along with getting shots off at a moment’s notice. A deeper skate hollow allows for quicker acceleration and the tighter turns essential for those players trying to chase down the puck and put it in the net.
  • Center – ⅜” to ¾”: Centers must be able to dig in on face-offs as well as handle a wealth of different tasks all over the ice. Sharpening a skate hollow to a medium depth allows for a nice mixture of speed and agility to cover the many responsibilities of a middle-man.
  • Defense – ½” to ⅞”: Defenders are generally larger and thus can dig in deeper on a shallow skate hollow. Maintaining a boundary presence gives them leeway to garner more speed from their skates—and they’ll need that speed to get back quickly to help guard the net.
  • Goalie – ½” to 1”: Because goalies must be able to react in an instant, the ability to quickly slide and dig in is essential. Having a somewhat shallower cut on the skate is recommended to keep a goalie from accidentally sliding out past the posts. But because the ability to slide quickly is necessary, less experienced players may find a deeper hollow causes them to get hung up in their transitions. A player’s confidence to move quickly and suddenly is the key here.

Traits of Different Skate Blade Hollows

Deeper Hollows (¼”-½”)

  • More bite (grip)
  • Tighter turns
  • Quicker stops
  • Prone to “chatter” when stopping if moving too fast
  • Higher drag
  • Greater push-off potential (quickness)

Shallow Hollows (⅝”-⅞”)

  • Smoother skating
  • Not as rigid feeling on the ice
  • Greater glide potential 
  • Longer, less taxing stops
  • Lower drag
  • Higher top-end speed

For more information, check out our skate sharpening guide for a detailed look at how to hone your edges and keep your skates in game-ready condition.