Tag: Rec Hockey Altrincham


Hockey player’s guide to skate sharpening

We take a look at the blog post from Justin Bourne who shares his knowledge and experience of skate sharpening with us!


My summer job for three years during my college career was at a hockey shop sharpening skates.  We were one of those destination skate sharpening places – the best equipment, pride in the job we did, the whole package.  So I know this stuff pretty thoroughly.

Here’s what you need to know:

Standard sharpening wheels

Basically, your skate “hollow” is how deep the groove is between the edges of your blade.

If you hand your skates to someone for sharpening, and they don’t ask what hollow you get them done to, they’re probably doing them at “a half inch” (which refers to the wheel they use to sharpen your blades).  And hey, don’t feel bad if you don’t know what you get yours sharpened to – Jarome Iginla came in one summer and said “I dunno, my trainer just does ‘em”.

The sharper your edges are (which comes from the deeper grooves), the deeper you sink into the ice.  So you can get more push and accelerate faster, but also, during coasting, you slow down quicker because of the increased friction/drag of your blades in the ice.

And of course, the heavier you are, the deeper you sink as well.  Thus, being heavy with sharp skates is a bad idea.

You can get your skates sharpened anywhere from 1/8th of an inch to one inch.  1/8th would be the sharpest, and one inch would be the least sharp. The majority of pros use something with a shallower hollow, but preference does widely vary.

I used a 5/8ths hollow, but as I got older and heavier, I switched to the less sharp 3/4ths.  Basically, I like to stay on top of the ice and maintain speed, since I wasn’t really a stop-and-start penalty kill guy, I was more of a coast-and-float breakaway hunting guy.  At my weight (185 then, 200 now), I’m still able to get plenty of push from that hollow.  Plus, we had trainers to sharpen our skates as often as we liked, so there was no “get them too sharp and let them dull down” logic that a lot of rec players use.

Most of you probably get your skates done too sharp.

Standard non-portable sharpener. Pro teams have smaller versions for travel.

You want less of a hollow if you skate on soft ice, if you’re a heavier person, or if you want to better keep your speed during coasting.  I think you get less tired this way, but it may take you a second longer to get to top speed.

You want more of a hollow if you play on hard ice, if you’re a lighter person, or if you want to be able to accelerate quicker.  I think you need to consciously keep moving more, but you’re maxing out your potential quickness.

Standard sharpener

So next time you bring your skates in to get buzzed, I recommend 5/8ths.  Most of the guys I played with used that hollow, since it’s a nice compromise – a 1/2 inch is pretty damn sharp.  And if the place you take them too doesn’t know what you’re talking about, you need to take them somewhere else (preferably somewhere that they use a level to make sure your edges are  even. That makes a huge difference, and the lazy places don’t do it).

In general, stuff like t-blades are too gimmicky for me.  I’ll stick with what everybody at the highest level uses (more on this below), until something better comes along.  Unless it’s too weird, like Vern Fiddler and a few other guys testing the heated blade holder thingy’s. I’m out on that, thanks.

As for “rockering”, that’s totally a preference thing.  People say that forwards need to be more on their toes, and d-men need to be more on their heels, but unless it totally bothers you, you’re probably over-thinking it.  I took mine out of the box, had them sharpened, and wore them.  Don’t make yourself nuts.

Let me know if you tinker with it and like them less sharp.  I bet you do.


The bulk of What’s Changed since I wrote that post is the introduction of FBV – the “Flat-Bottom V” version of skate sharpening that’s more recently become part of mainstream hockey lexicon. I personally didn’t know the depth of its popularity or value, so I contacted the equipment manager of the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves (NCAA D1) – my boy P.D., who you should follow on Twitter if you’re into guys who like both rap and hockey – to find out all the details.

The consensus: elite skaters don’t notice much of a difference (if any), so you’re probably not going to either. That’s not just “NCAA elite” either, that goes for the NHL, where only a smattering of players around the league (a couple per team?) use the “new” sharpening style. Zero players on UAA use it, one or two on Fairbanks, and the majority of kids coming up from junior (the easily-influenced) aren’t asking for it.

“Flat-Bottom V” isn’t illogical – instead of the rounded hollow, they’re going for a flat-bottom with more distinct edges, with the sales point being “more flat blade on ice for glide, more edge for turning.”

And I know, the sales pitch is great. Which is why you can go back to the 80′s to find different types of “edges” that make sense and are going to revolutionize skating, until they die upon hearing things like “elite skaters don’t notice a difference (if any).” A good sales pitch can go a long way (you get to charge more!), and it’s likely the reason I have people on Twitter telling me it’s the wave of the future, while an NCAA equipment guy says the reaction among the non-paying is “meh.” Placebos are a hell of a drug. (I’ve also reached out to the Isles equipment guy who should get back to me this afternoon, so I’ll share Isles usage numbers then.)

The brands selling FBV are Blackstone and Blademaster, and they both do it better than one another, if you ask them.

The consensus from P.D. and the trainers he’s spoken to is that it’s tough to dress the stone properly, it’s tough to make level, and when it’s off, it’s a mess.

So, the majority of players still use the old-school cut, as things stand. Now go get a more shallow hollow, will ya?


Jets prove their mettle against Canadiens

The Jets had the honour and privilege of meeting 4 times Stanley Cup winner  Yvon Lambert on our training session recently. So when we were also offered the challenge of playing against his well seasoned, professionally coached Montreal Canadiens who travel around the globe playing against teams of all nationalities and levels we pretty much bit their French Canadian hands off.

The Jets all assembled in the bar of Altrincham Ice Rink giving the locker room space to our esteemed guests. As each of us turned up we discussed and joked how we were going to get annihilated by the foreign visitors but settled on the notion it was going to be a good experience and a bit of fun. We were told by the ref that we weren’t allowed slapshots so naturally we all looked at Patrik, Patrik looked at himself with inwards reflection whilst he tried to remember what a wrist shot was.

We gathered round the boards waiting for the ice to dry whilst one of their players pointed out the tiny, novelty net they’d brought with them to give us a chance. Out of respect we laughed because… well you’re respectful of your elders.

The Jets rose to the task ahead, each line playing in succinct fashion, passes on tape, players marked, shots sniped. This caused some frustration for the visitors and the pre-agreed style of play went two sheets to the wind meaning the Jets had to defend and become more physical. This we did and ultimately after a strong 2-0 lead by the visitors Jets retaliated with goals from Jake Harrison, Milan Branik and Alex Towns taking the final score to 3-2 to the Jets. MVP went to netminder Steph Drinkwater after a stellar display between the pipes!

The evening was both exciting and humbling and we extend our thanks to the Canadiens for the opportunity to play against them and Laurie Tebb for organising.

Jets 3 – Canadiens 2


An update & Off Ice Workout

A bit of an update from the Jets and some workout tips…

It’s been a while since we’ve had a post up on the site, if you play rec hockey or follow it you know summer is the busiest time for us. We’ve had head coach James Ashton putting us through our paces on training sessions to ensure we’re all ready for the upcoming games. We’ve entered into the annual Swindow rec hockey tournament taking place over Sat 5th & Sun 6th August with the intention of picking up silverware! Keep an eye on our Facebook page for fixtures, it’s always free to watch. Jake Harrison (Of the Jets, no official title but proper committed ‘helper-outer’) has been working really hard to organise games for every weekend in July. So get down and show your support! We all really appreciate seeing you turn up!

In other news we’ve signed up new players, been getting them kitted up and making sure everyone has a Jets hoodie! (Thanks to Victory Hockey UK)

We’re also in the initial stages of arranging a charity shield match at Altrincham, more details to follow!

Anyway, for our off ice workout digest. The following article is credited to Jimmy Smith. Hockey players have a very specific athleticism. The following workouts are specially designed around your core and explosion strength.

“Even if hockey isn’t your favorite sport, these workouts will make you slap-shot ready. Improve your core and explosive strength with this hard-hitting workout!

For the majority of sports fans, the NHL might take a backseat to the NFL, NBA and UFC. Sports fans should know, however, that hockey players might well be the most-conditioned athletes in the world. So, the next time you’re bored, flip on a hockey game and watch how agile and explosive the athletes are, especially someone like Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks.

Hockey increases the demands on areas of the body that most people never get around to training. So, if you’re wondering why someone who has no desire to get cross-checked would want to know about hockey workouts, consider what parts of your body might be in need of some extra work.

These tips and workouts will not only give you a better understanding of the intense training that hockey players submit to, but will also add some spice to your bland workout routine. They might also help you shed those New Year resolution pounds.”



We can all agree that training the same way, workout after workout after workout, can be excruciatingly boring. To add some spice to your bland routine, try some more explosive training methods that will increase your power while giving you a surprisingly good cardio workout.

By combining a traditional exercise with an explosive exercise, you stimulate more muscle fibers in different ways. Medicine balls are my preferred tool for explosive strength work, but if your gym doesn’t allow medicine ball throws, there are other ways to incorporate explosive movement into your exercises. Simply accelerate the weight as quickly as possible.

I caution you to refrain from using bad form. When you lift the weight, raise it as fast as possible, but control how you lower it.


There’s a growing trend in core training to not train the core for movement. This avoidance measure is okay, initially, for people with low-back pain, but it doesn’t do much for those of us who want dynamic strength.

A good example of core movement is how a hockey player performs a slap shot. In order to perform a slap shot, a hockey player needs to have enough movement in his core to generate torque, which is relayed to the extremities to create power, which is released from stick to puck to create velocity. The initial torque must be generated by the athlete from core power. Strength and stabilization in the back and shoulders is required for the torque to flow into dynamic power and, ultimately, velocity.

By training your core to move, you increase the strength of your low back stabilizers and improve your dynamic power.


Day 1: Rest 45 seconds between sets
Day 2:
Day 3: Rest 45 seconds between sets



Day 4: Rest

Day 5: Rest 45 seconds between sets


Day 6:
Day 7: Rest