I'm relatively new to skating and hockey. I recently acquired some used hockey skates and I'm wondering if there are some tell-tale signs for when I should go get my skates sharpened. Or alternatively, is there a rule-of-thumb for how often you get your skates sharpened?
There are a few things to look for on your skate blades to indicate it's time for sharpening. First would be visible nicks appearing anywhere along the length of the blade.
You also want to look out for 'rounded' edges.
Lastly you will want to avoid pitting which is quite common if you leave your cloth skate guards on your skates between sessions. Be sure to wipe down your steel after you get home to ensure your blades are dry.
I would argue that there isn't a 'rule-of-thumb' with regard to sharpening frequency, Pro's get their blades sharpened every period, amateurs can likely go weeks without any consequence. After you gain more experience you will be able to 'feel' when it's time to head to the pro-shop.
As a rule of thumb, an average hockeyplayer will lose somewhere between 5 and 10 % of the skates edge per hour of skating. That means that after a typical 10-12 hours of hockey, you should get them sharpened.
Pros are often closer to 50-60% due to the immense power in their strides and most have their skates sharpened before every practice and game - some even before each period.
How often exactly is as much a question of personal preference as it's about how you skate.
When you can feel your skate beginning to lose grip it's time for a shapening.
One other consideration is where you skate. Ice in outdoor rinks or on natural frozen surfaces like lakes and ponds contain mineral deposits and other impurities which will wear down the steel a little faster. So if you skate outside a lot, you may feel the need to get your skates sharpened a little more frequently.