Creating an environment to make synthetic ice training a reality takes some thinking, planning and research but the rewards are invaluable. As with all modern-day sports physical fitness is the foundation for the potential of success one can achieve outside of genetics. Being a "gym rat" or in this case a "rink rat" can take a player with an average skill to the next level if the effort and desire is there. The challenge with ice hockey and figure skating is you need to spend an extensive amount of the ice time at the rink to excel at skating.
There’s No Place Like Home
With all of today’s modern day distractions (facebook, instagram, twitter) that unfortunately consume the bulk of any young athletes day, introducing home synthetic ice training is more acceptable today than ever before. Trying to find time between homework assignments and practices is difficult for any young athlete to continue self-training. Having a dedicated space in a home environment becomes even more valuable than ever especially for those athletes that need to master the art of ice skating.
How to Start
If you see you have a dedicated player or skater it's time to find a dedicated space to fit their needs. It's always best to optimize a minimal amount of space to maximize your overall training. A bigger synthetic ice rink is not always better as a smaller space allows you to repeat the drill and correct the mistakes and limit the amount of wasted time. You'll only need enough space to work on your edges and skill sets.
I know this is not what you’re used to hearing but can you see how this makes sense? The need when it comes to home ice training is to become a better skater or player.
Get More for Less
The goal is to utilize your synthetic ice surface to limit the amount of travel and maximize the amount of training. The advantages you'll save on travel time and getting more workouts over the long term will only help you to maximize your abilities and become a better skater or player.
This will put you on the fast track to accomplishing your goals and enable you to do it all in the comfort of your home by utilizing synthetic ice training.
What is the ideal location for Your Rink?
This question doesn’t have just one answer. Synthetic Ice can be installed virtually anywhere, anyplace at anytime.
Examples of Common Rink Project Locations for the Home:
- Garage: Hands down, the family garage “takes the cake” as the most common indoor rink location in the home, A single car garage measures approximately 12ft. x 20ft whereas a 2-car a garage ice rink would measure closer to 20ft x 20ft. Both are ideal sizes and locations for your home training rink.
- Basement: The basement has always been an ideal place for creating a playroom space for your kids to play. What better way to train AND have fun by converting this area into a home ice rink? (Something tells me the kids will not object.)
- Deck: Home outdoor decks have grown tremendously over the last few decades and are now a commonplace in most homes. Decks provide the perfect flat, hard subsurface for any home synthetic ice rink project.
- Driveway: When the weather starts to warm-up you can always move your garage rink out to the driveway for some fresh air (or just open the door)
Utilizing home ice training is ideal because it can help you become an impact player or skater. The additional resistance makes synthetic ice training ideal for any skater or player looking to strengthen their skating, improve on basic stickhandling drills and advance their skills and performance. Why not take advantage of a tool that can offer you maximum results?
Find Your Ideal Rink
Now that you’ve learned a little bit about synthetic ice, it’s time to find a rink that works within your budget. This can seem overwhelming—especially if you feel you don’t know enough about the product to make a decision. That’s okay. We can help.
First, there are a lot of products on the market that make claims to having the best synthetic ice. When you're researching about the different options and types of surfaces, you may want to have some paper handy. Browse through the different products and take notes as to what you may or may not like about each of them. Continue this process for each product you come across until you’re confident you’ve exhausted your search.
Take your time to review this information and narrow your selection down to your top three (3) choices. Don’t be afraid to call the companies to discuss their product and allow yourself to get a feel of who you’re dealing with.
Return on Investments (ROI)
Owning your own home synthetic ice rink will certainly pay off in the long term when you consider less time spent traveling back-and-forth to the rink. Artificial ice is not meant to replace natural ice but only to enable athletes to advance their skills without relying on ice time at the local arena. Less time traveling in the car means more time training at home.
The Road to Success
I came up with a few quick questions you may also want to ask yourself about the player or skater you’re purchasing the rink for. You can add these few to your list:
How would you best describe the Skater?
When looking to purchase a synthetic ice rink try to evaluate where your child is on the development scale (beginner or advanced?). If you’re a parent this is often a subjective question as we are all a little biased when it comes to evaluating our own child…..but try to be honest.
Think about how dedicated or committed your child is to their sport. If the rink is for you then fine but it’s probably not something you want to purchase to make your child enjoy it. That would not be a good start. Here’s some of the other things you may want to consider:
- Favorites: Does your child actively follow their favorite team, player or skater?
- Games: Do they like to compete and play in other sports and games?
- Hobbies: Have they shown an interest in other hobbies that they like….not influenced by anyone else?
These are just a few examples of some different interests. What other ones may apply to their life?
The Three “S’s”
- Schooling: Will having a home ice rink allow your child to have some additional time to get their homework done?
- Schedule: Are they being shuffled back-and-forth to the rink frequently with little “down time”?
- Stress: How does your child handle stress? Children can easily be overwhelmed if they take on too much.
Activities and Health
- Exercise: Is your child involved in daily physical activities? Do you feel they get enough exercise throughout the week and in between meals?
- Diet: Are you happy with your child eating habits and diet? Are they making good choices when eating on their own?
- Passion: Is your child excited or passionate about Hockey or figure skating and ready to devote their time to the sport they love?
These are just a few examples of some of the things you may want to take into consideration prior to purchasing your synthetic ice rink.
Notice how this list contains a blend of specific talents that encompass both hobbies, schedules and specific skills. Not all of these apply to everyone—and they’re not meant to. Most players and skaters these days have busy schedules with limited time. There’s no better way to make use of that time than by synthetic ice training at home.
By creating your own home training rink you can make the most of your valuable time and achieve maximum results. It’s a “win-win” for both the athlete AND the parent.
Once you’ve decided which synthetic ice product to purchase and completed your installation the real fun begins. If you want to get the most out of your training you will need to create a workout program that will help you achieve your goals. Now it’s time to get real honest with yourself:
What Are Your Weaknesses?
While it is important to know your talents and focus on them, it is also a good idea to understand and admit your weaknesses. Knowing what they are and how to improve them will only put you on the fast track to achieving your goals.
If you're great at making tight left turns, spend your time turning right. If you’re a skater that needs work on your spins, don’t waste time working on your crossovers. Once you can isolate and work on your weaknesses you can begin to improve your skills.
- Powerskating: Powerskating is designed to improve overall skating technique, speed and edgework. Starting, stopping, Pivoting, turning and acceleration drills are repeated at a high rate of speed until each skill is achieved.
- Small-Area Games: Small-area games are game-like competitive drills that utilize a playing surface that has been reduced in size. Your home synthetic ice rink is the ideal space for your own small-area game drills. Be creative and have fun challenging yourself.
Basic Stickhandling Drills: Practicing stickhandling at home with a simple shooting pad is one thing but doing it in your skates on synthetic ice brings it to another level. It's important to get your feet (skates) involved when practicing basic stickhandling drills.
- Jumps: There are six kinds of jumps currently counted as jump elements in ISU Three are edge jumps—the Salchow, loop, and Axel—and three are toe jumps which use the toe picks on the front of the blade—the toe loop, flip, and Lutz. The Axel is the most difficult due to an extra half rotation.
- Spins: There are many types of spins, identified by the position of the arms, legs, and torso, the foot on which the spin is performed, and the entrance to the spin. A combination spinis a spin where the skater would connect a spin with another separate spin. Spins are a required element in most figure skating competitions.
Target your weaknesses and work hard on improving them.
As you continue to train and address your weaknesses your overall skills will continue to improve until you reach your goals. Hard work, determination and dedication are the tools you’ll need to get you there.
What Are You Passionate About?
These are the things that you are interested in that fuel your passion, and help build good character….it’s what makes you tick. The traits of many athletes are the core foundation for their success. Here are a few examples of Good Leadership and Character traits:
Good Leadership Traits
- Integrity & Honesty
- Inspire Others
- Commitment and Passion
- Good Communicator
- Decision-Making Capabilities
- Delegation and Empowerment
Good Character Traits
Here’s some basic examples of Good Character and Leadership:
- Helping others: Do you find it rewarding when you help someone other then yourself?
- Showing Responsibility: Do you own-up to your mistakes or failures without blaming others?
- Being Unafraid: Do you shy away from trying something new at the thought of failure or fear of being unaccepted by others?
The Total Athlete – Mind & Body
In today’s modern day of training it’s not all physical. If an athlete is not mentally tough they will fold at the first sign of failure. Building strong character traits will help build any athletes confidence and teach them how to pick themselves up after being knock-down.
The next step is to look at your skills as the building blocks for you to achieve maximum performance. Find out how they fit into your passions. Feed off your character and use it to your own advantage because we’re all good at something.
Now that you know what skills you need to work on be sure to chart your progress using your own notes. This way you can go back and see how you achieved success and continue to build confidence along the way. Measure each skill using your own scale (1-5) with 5 being the best.
The bottom line is if you can’t have fun doing the thing you love then you may need to reassess the situation or take a break. Getting rest and knowing when to take a break will only make the player or skater a stronger athlete in the end. Video-tape your progress, it’s the perfect way for you to allow yourself to look back and see the gains you have made.
There will be nothing more rewarding in the end than reaping the rewards of your hard work by winning that medal, trophy or team championship. Hard work and discipline will take any person or athlete a long way throughout their life in helping them achieve the goals they set out for themselves.
The lessons you learned along the way are just as important as the accomplishments you achieved. They make us stronger and wiser. Life lessons, whether good or bad, make us who we are today. Learn how to work on your weaknesses and excel at your talents.
Ready to get started?
Follow each step we outlined and soon you’ll be on your way to owning your own synthetic ice rink. Understanding the benefits and "The True Value of Synthetic Ice Training" will help lead your Hockey Player or Figure Skater on their way to maximizing their full potential.
Now that you know more about the benefits of synthetic ice training you can map out a plan to get your rink project started. Remember, every person has different needs (and budgets), so you need to find out what’s best for you. Each new self-taught skill will provide you with the building blocks to achieving your goals!
With synthetic ice, you’re provided with a new tool that can help you get an “edge” over the competition so why not take advantage of it? It’s time to “Bring the Rink Home”!