Is It Time to Buy New Hockey Skates?

Player lacing skate

The better the condition of your hockey skates, the better you’ll feel on the ice and most likely the better you’ll play. It’s a truth most athletes understand: what you wear on your feet plays a crucial role in helping you reach your maximum performance potential. Your hockey skates are no exception; they should be rigid and support your feet and ankles, allowing quick starts and stops and precise turns or crossovers on the ice.

Don’t be sluggish on the ice—good hockey skates that fit your feet and your game style are essential to your playing success. Know when it’s time for a new pair.

Signs That It’s Time for New Skates

If your skates feel loose around your feet and ankles, this might be a sign that some stretching has occurred in the skate material or that the supportive uppers are getting worn and don’t cradle your ankles—and thus don’t hold up to sharp turns—as well as they once did.

Hockey skates should firmly cradle your feet and provide support up through the ankles, similar to ski boots. If your skates don’t support your foot and ankle, it’s time for a new pair.

Also, check the steel blades on your hockey skates. If they’re pitted, rusted, or worn, they might need sharpening—or replacing. Further, inspect the blade supports for any cracks that might loosen the blade and make it unstable. This also raises the question—does the infrastructure and integrity of the skate look okay? Be honest. If any part of the skate is questionable, replacement is probably the answer.

How Often Should I Sharpen My Skates? 

How frequently you have your skates sharpened is an objective measure, meaning the correct answer for you will be different than it is for one of your teammates. Your height, weight, and most importantly, your playing style, influence how quickly your skate blades lose their edge.

Feel the blades frequently—literally run a fingertip along the blade to gauge its sharpness. Pay attention to the performance of your skates, and if you notice a difference in how they bite the ice (or don’t), have the blades sharpened—it’s that simple.

Some coaches suggest sharpening the blades after 15 to 20 hours on the ice, and that’s not a bad benchmark. Certainly, don’t go much longer than that without a sharpening. Be sure to sharpen the blades on both of your skates, so the steel remains uniform on both blades. And know that eventually you’ll need to replace your blades.

Do You Have to Sharpen Brand New Skates?

Factory skates are not sharpened to fit you, so yes, new hockey skate blades must be sharpened. The brand new blades won’t have a hollow, or a concave curve on the bottom, which helps you to turn and stop. (A radius of hollow is ground into the length of the blade during sharpening. Some hockey players simply call this the hollow.) The length of a new skate blade is flattened, and the hollow is formed on the bottom of the blade in a cross-grinding process.

Pure Hockey will sharpen the blades of any new skates you purchase from us, or you can take your skates to an ice facility to have them sharpened. But be sure to explain that the skates are new, so the blades get a hollow.

How Long Does It Take to Break in Skates?

You’ll need to take to the ice a few times before your new hockey skates truly start to feel broken in.

After sharpening the skate blades, you’ll want to make the skates conform to your feet. Hands down, the best way to start the break-in process is to bake your skates—a method of heat-molding them. (Note: lower-end skates can’t be baked.) If you’re not familiar with this process, learn how to bake your skates, and why it’s important.

But since baking isn’t always an option, the one tried-and-true way to break in your skates is to wear them on the ice. There is no substitute for play, and each time you’re out on the ice, the skates will conform better to your feet. Think of breaking in cowboy boots—they have to fit your feet well before you really start to get the boot-scootin’ boogie!

All told, even if you bake your skates, expect several times on the ice before the skates start to feel like an extension of your feet.

Replacing Your Hockey Skates

Worn out hockey skates will slow you down and hamper your play. When you know it’s time to retire your current pair of skates, keep fit and function top of mind. Learn how to fit hockey skates, and consult the Pure Hockey Skate Guide for useful tips to help you make an informed purchase.