The Effect of Recommended Sharpening Characteristics on Skating Speed
The purpose of the study was to investigate the effect of combining recommended blade sharpening characteristics; namely, radius of contour, radius of hollow and pitch on skating speed in ice hockey players. An operational definition for recommended sharpening characteristics was derived from previous research, current industry practices and pilot work. Males, currently competing at the U16 (n = 21), U18 (n = 10), and Minor Midget AAA (n = 9) levels of competitive ice hockey were recruited to participate. Players completed a battery of eight on-ice skating drills representing skating skills typically used in game situations while skating on two blade sharpening conditions: (i) the player’s current sharpening characteristics and (ii) the recommended sharpening characteristics. Movement initiation time (T1; s) and total skating time (TT; s) were measured for each drill. Composite scores were calculated as the sum of times across seven of the eight drills for T1 (s) and TT (s). Two-tailed paired samples t-tests were conducted to determine if significant differences existed in T1 (s) and TT (s) between conditions. Significantly faster times were revealed for the recommended sharpening condition on 4 of the 8 measured T1’s (s/kg), on 2 of the 8 measured TT’s (s/kg), and on both composite T1 and TT scores (p < .05). Data was then grouped in three ways for further analysis; by the number of sharpening characteristics adjusted (1, 2, or 3), by position (forward & defense), and by player weight (≤81.6 kg & >81.6 kg). When grouped by the number of sharpening characteristics adjusted, results revealed no significant differences when one or all three characteristics were adjusted. When two characteristics were adjusted significant differences were observed in 2 of the 8 T1’s (s/kg) and TT’s (s/kg) and in composite T1 and TT scores. When results were grouped by position or player weight, mixed results were revealed; meaning significant differences were revealed only on select skating drills that varied by group. All significant differences revealed faster times for the recommended sharpening condition. The results revealed may be indicative of the complex relationship between sharpening characteristics and performance in various on-ice skating skills.