There's often confusion around the subject of custom contouring. Sometimes referred to as profiling or rockering, and not to be confused with the traditional sharpening process, this simplified Q&A format helps shed some light on the subject.
Here's a simplified look at why you should have your skates custom contoured.
1 - CONTOURING
Custom contouring is a precision system of re-shaping the radius on a skate blade. You might now be asking what a radius is and that is totally normal. If you’re wondering what a skate blade is I think you may have stumbled onto the wrong website.
2 - THE TERM “RADIUS”
When talking about a radius it’s important to remember some basic elementary school math terminology. A radius, in math terms, is the length of a line segment from the center of a circle to its perimeter. Simply put, the longer a radius the bigger the circle. As far as how the word “radius” relates to hockey skates it’s not much more complicated than that.
3 - WHAT DOES A MATH TERM HAVE TO DO WITH MY SKATES?
While technically there is an endless supply of options when it comes to the radius you can put on your steel the most common are 9’, 11’ and 13’. Before I lose you here just picture a bike wheel that’s standing up next to you and it has a 13’ radius which means it’s 26 feet tall. This wheel you’re picturing would have more rubber contacting the ground than a tire with an 11’ radius, 9’ radius and far more than a regular bike tire. By changing the radius of a skate blade you’re directly changing how much steel is making contact with the ice when you’re skating.
4 - WHY DO I WANT TO DO THIS?
So what’s the point of increasing or decreasing the amount of steel on the ice? Whether you're a recreational player or professional, an optimized radius will improve your on ice performance.
Depending on the profile you choose it can help with acceleration, more straight away speed, a quicker turning radius and increased agility - and there are additional benefits like greater stability and even a reduction muscle fatigue.
Increasing the amount of steel on the ice would increase the gliding speed you could achieve but decrease your turning ability. The opposite is true if you decreased the length of radius, you’d have more turning ability but you wouldn’t be able to skate quite as fast.
5 - HOW MUCH TIME WILL IT TAKE TO ADJUST?
Changing the radius on your skates can be an adjustment but it’s not something a skater should worry about. Going to a longer radius requires a bit of an adjustment in your turning, something that shouldn’t take more than one ice time to accomplish.
6 - HOW DO I DECIDE WHICH RADIUS TO GO WITH?
It really depends on what you’re looking to get out of your radius. If you’re speed challenged and want to give yourself a little bit more when you’re racing for a puck it might be a good idea to go to a longer radius like 11’ or 13’ if you’re confident in your ability to turn on any radius. If you’re a great skater but feel like you could use some extra turning ability then you can go with a 9’ or lower although Bauer for example has all of their skates come out with a 9’ radius.
7 - WHAT ARE THE OTHER STOCK RADIUS’?
Bauer and Easton are 9’ while Reebok and CCM are 10’.
8 - WHAT’S A COMBO RADIUS?
A combo radius is when you get two different radius’ on the same skate. Going with a shorter radius on the front and a longer on the back is a way of splitting the difference. If you’re skating on a 9’ and you’re wanting a little more speed but you’re worried about jumping all the way to 11’ because you’re not sure about being able to turn as well you can go with a 9’/10’ combo radius and get the best of both worlds.
9 - WHAT ABOUT FORWARD LIE?
The other thing you’re able to do when profiling a skate is change the lie of the steel. By profiling some steel off of the front of the skate you can get yourself a little more on your toes if that’s something you're looking for. Some skates are forward already because of how the holder sits and don’t need any more help but others like the Supreme are very neutral and some would say even lean back a little so they are the perfect candidate for a forward lean.