Hockey is a sport that has been around for a long time and will continue to thrive for centuries to come. It is not a secret that in order to be any good at the game a player must be in great shape and have sharp skills. Many of the champions that have become icons in the hockey world today have been able to hone their skills by using training aids like synthetic ice flooring. The fact that anybody can create an ice skating rink in their own home has catapulted the popularity of this particular type of flooring into popularity.
- Is it worth it?
- Does it last long?
- Can you really ice skate on it?
These are some of the questions that people ask before they make the decision to purchase and install hockey flooring in their homes.
The truth of the matter is that if you invest in a batch of high-quality synthetic ice panels, you can’t go wrong. Although it is not exactly like skating on ice, it is very similar.
Let’s start out with some of the cons that people mention when they use synthetic ice, then look at some of the pros. This way you can decide for yourself whether or not you believe purchasing panels will be beneficial for you.
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Not as Slick as Ice
Some of the people that have installed synthetic ice panels in their homes for ice skating have mentioned that the flooring is not as slick and smooth as traditional ice. This is not a surprise. Real ice is made out of frozen water and is able to provide a natural lubricant as ice skates glide across it. As the metal blades of the ice skates cut into the frozen water a little bit of friction causes the ice to melt just enough to form a trail of water for the skates to glide across. In many cases, people need to use lubricants to make sure that their synthetic ice glides the way that they want it to.
Synthetic ice gets dirty, and it’s a much different process to clean than regular ice. You’ll need to clean off your synthetic ice at least once a month to ensure that it doesn’t get a build-up of dirt and debris. The act of skating on the synthetic ice also creates shavings, which is just more of a mess for you to clean up every month. Cleaning takes time out of your day and, depending on how much you use the ice, the mess can build up rather quickly. That leaves you either having to clean it yourself or having to pay someone else to clean it for you, and neither of those options is exactly ideal.
Synthetic Ice Can Wear Down Your Skates
Ice skates aren’t cheap, especially if you want something that’s a little nicer than the average hockey player has. One of the biggest things that most people will complain about when they talk about synthetic ice is how much more quickly it wears down the blade on their skates than true ice. On average, you’ll need to sharpen your blades twice as much while skating on synthetic ice than when you’re skating on true ice. That means that your blades will be done and over with, on average, about twice as quickly on synthetic ice. This extra wear and tear can end up impacting your pockets in the long run, which is definitely something that you should think about when making your purchase. This is especially true if you prefer to go to a professional to sharpen your skates rather than do it yourself.
A Brief Segway
We’ve looked at some of the negative things that people have to say about synthetic ice, but what about some of the positives? After all, there are still plenty of companies that manufacture and sell synthetic ice, so people have to be willing to purchase it either for their homes or businesses. Let’s take a look at some of the good things about synthetic ice that keeps both new and returning customers coming.
Built-In Resistance Training
This point is actually the same as the first point that we brought up for the cons of synthetic ice. Synthetic ice just doesn’t have as good of a glide factor as true ice. Even the best synthetic ice on the market can’t quite compare to the feel of skating on real ice. It requires a lot more effort to move around the rink on synthetic ice. If you’re trying to train for hockey, that’s actually perfect. Much like how a runner that trains with weights around their ankles can move a little faster when the weights are taken off, skating on synthetic ice provides a little bit of an extra challenge that will make skating on real ice that much easier. That makes synthetic ice a great choice for your home rink if training is your end goal.
Versatile Placement Options
If you live somewhere like Arizona where it’s entirely too hot for ice skating outdoors, synthetic ice may just be the answer for you. Synthetic ice was specifically designed to be used in climates where having a regular ice rink just wouldn’t be possible because of the heat. Of course, you won’t want to cheap out if you live somewhere that gets incredibly hot, but you could reasonably set up a high-quality synthetic ice rink anywhere and it would work just fine.
On top of that, you can put your rink wherever you want. Backyard, basement, spare room, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re allowed to put it there, you can. You could probably also set it up in places like public parks, but definitely check with your local laws to make sure you wouldn’t be doing something that could result in a less than fun conversation with the police.
Take Control of Your Practice Schedule
One of the biggest drawbacks to hockey, or really any ice sport, is that you need to go to an ice skating rink at the proper time to get your practice in. If you have your own synthetic ice rink, that means you can practice whenever you want. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When you’re the one that owns the rink, no one can tell you when you can and cannot get some practice in. You’ll still need to be wary of noise ordinances so you can be sure that you won’t get a noise complaint if you like listening to music while you train, but other than that the sky is the limit.
Save Some Money in the Long Run
While you’ll probably end up spending a bit more on blades and blade sharpening when you have your own synthetic ice rink, that means that you won’t need to pay for admissions to a skating rink every time you want to get some practice in. The savings you get from that is only amplified if you have children that like to skate, too. You can even have the whole team over for impromptu practice if your rink is large enough to fit all of them. Depending on how many people you need to pay to get into the ice skating rink, your personal synthetic ice rink could pay for itself in a matter of months. It could also take years for it to pay for itself, it really depends on how much your personal rink is utilized.
Customize Your Rink to Your Liking
Many companies that sell synthetic ice also sell accessories that you can use to customize your rink. Different colored tiles, goalie cutouts, goalposts. You could even go your own route and get a cut out of your favorite Star Wars character, for instance, and have them play goalie for you while you’re getting your training in. Many people would love nothing more than to have Chewbacca as a hockey training partner. You could go even further in your own direction and get other things to decorate with that you wouldn’t usually see at an ice skating rink but would give your little rink a sense of identity that is uniquely yours. When doing decorations just make sure you keep safety in mind and don’t put anything nearby that could injure yourself or someone else if they wipe out.
Is Synthetic Ice Right for You?
We can’t decide what is and isn’t right for you, but what we can do is provide some information so you can feel more comfortable making the choice for yourself. Whether you decide that you love synthetic ice and feel like the pros or worth the cons or you think that it would be a waste of money for you is perfectly fine. What’s really important is that you feel like you’re getting the best at-home training experience that you can for your money so you can go and play your hardest during your next match.