If you were like us you remember bringing your skates to your local hockey shop and handing them to the guy behind the counter for a sharpen. They didn't give you any option for a ½” or ⅝” hollow, they just put a new edge on and handed them back to you. You currently may be experiencing the same situation. If this is the case you may be skating on a sharpen that is not ideal for you. If you don’t know currently what hollow you are skating on, it is most likely you are on ½” or ⅝”. And hey there is no need to be embarrassed if you don't know which hollow you are currently skating on, I once read a story about Jarome Iginla bringing his skates into a local shop in the off season and when they asked him which hollow he wanted he replied “I dunno, my trainer just does ‘em”. So before we get any further, let’s go a little deeper into what a “hollow” is.
What is Radius of Hollow?
If you look closely at your skate blades you will see that is two sharp edges connected by a rounded valley in the center of the blade. This valley is the radius of hollow, or as we will refer to it from here on out the hollow. When sharpening skates the grinding wheel on the sharpener will determine how shallow or deep the hollow will be, the smaller the radius the deeper the hollow.
Essentially the deeper the hollow is the more bite you will get from your blades, the larger groove allows the blades to sink more into the ice surface. This can give you more push, quicker acceleration, and tighter turns, however the deeper cut creates more friction with the ice which can slow you down quicker and also result in you using more of your energy. A shallow hollow creates less friction which will allow you to glide easier on the ice and helps with increased speed, however the trade-off is you will lose some of the bite you get with a deeper hollow.
Which Hollow is Right For Me?
At Rusty Skate we offer 12 different hollow options so you may be wondering which one is right for me? There is no wrong or right answer to which hollow you should use, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable on your skates and they are performing the way you want them to. A few general things to look at when choosing a hollow is the weight of the skater and the condition of the ice surface.
Younger and lighter players tend to lean towards a deeper hollow as it makes it easier for them to grip the ice. A larger player will look towards a shallow hollow as their size will already assist with them getting bite on the ice from their skates. An easy way to think about this is to imagine a 350lb man standing on the ice next to a 50lb kid, the 350lb will get more bite simply by the amount of pressure he is putting on the ice.
When it comes to ice conditions softer ice is easier to grip requiring less of a hollow to get that good bite. Harder ice would require a little bit deeper hollow to get that same bite.
I’m a Goalie, What Should I Use?
Similar to skaters the hollow that is right for you will come down to personal preference and the style of goaltending you play. How experienced you are as a goaltender can also come into play. Typically less experienced goalies start with a shallower hollow and will go deeper as they become more comfortable in the position. This is because it is easier to make the lateral movements and not get caught up by an edge while moving side to side with a shallow hollow. Historically as goalies tended to play in the stand-up style many leaned towards a ¾” or 1” hollow. This style uses more skating and less up and down action. These days as many goaltenders adopt the butterfly style they are opting for deeper hollows, typically in the ⅜” to ½” range. This deeper hollow allows the goalie to more easily pop up and down and aggressively slide post to post as the butterfly style requires. Playing the butterfly style may require you to sharpen your skates more often, as a sharp blade is required to dig into the ice and get that push and as your skates will come into contact with the posts much more frequently.
Smaller radius=deeper hollow
- Tighter, more aggressive turns
- Faster acceleration
- More grip when battling for position on the ice
Deeper radius=smaller hollow
- Less friction creates more speed while gliding
- Doesn’t require as much energy to get to top speed
- Still retains sufficient edge for stops and turns
The depth of the hollow will affect the way your skates perform for you on the ice, that is why it is important to use a hollow that is suited for your game, not just any sharpen you may get done at your local shop. As stated above the correct hollow all comes down to personal preference. What feels right to you is the right one for you. We recommend trying out a few different hollows to figure out which one will be best for you and your game.
See you on the ice!