It was once thought that you needed ice skates, fancy clothes, and access to a rink to enjoy ice skating.
According to Statista, about 9.5 million Americans participate in ice sports like figure skating or ice hockey.
It seems like the demand for skating was in decline, but not anymore.
A growing trend that involves no ice and no skates have been sweeping the nation, especially kids.
It’s called sock skating, a safe, fun way to ‘skate.’
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If you’ve had a chance to do some sock skating and you want to recreate that experience at home for your family, you’ve come to the right place.
What is sock skating?
As the name implies, sock skating uses socks to glide across a flat, smooth surface.
It emulates the grace of ice skating without the need for expensive ice skates and traveling to rinks.
If you’ve slid across your living room floor before – a la Tom Cruise in Risky Business - then you understand sock skating.
The smooth surface mixed with soft socks creates an environment that takes the pressure out of balancing on skates or crazy wipe outs.
Besides being fun, sock skating can happen any time of the year since ice is unnecessary.
It’s also great for almost any age. Your toddlers and tots will enjoy it as much as teens and adults.
What do you need to sock skate?
All you need are socks and a smooth, enclosed surface, and you can sock skate.
The type of socks will determine how much you can slide across the floor.
Wool and cotton socks work best.
Avoid socks with non-slip features, as you’ll get stuck and constantly fall over.
Smooth surfaces like hardwood or laminate floors work the best.
Some are pre-treated with a special liquid conditioner to make the floor slippery.
However, to get the real ice-skating feel, sock skating rinks are made with synthetic ice.
Synthetic ice is special white tiles or panels that can emulate the look of an ice rink.
The best synthetic ice material is made of high-density polyethylene that lasts for years.
Many commercial rinks in malls, hotels, and entertainment centers use large synthetic ice panels to construct ice rinks during the Holidays.
Now, you can get synthetic ice tiles in sizes large and small to fit almost any space.
The tiles have dove-tail joint edges, allowing them to connect smoothly and form a large enough surface area for skating.
These rinks allow ice skates with metal blades.
Some of the best on the market have minimal friction, allowing ice skaters to still enjoy skating without natural ice.
In fact, the more you skate on synthetic ice, the better it performs.
Recently, these same synthetic ice tiles have doubled as sock skating rinks.
Even as the seasons change, these rinks can stick around a little longer for sock skating.
Where can I sock skate?
There are several locations that have added sock skating as part of their offerings for guests/customers.
Children’s Museums and Science Centers:
Museums and science centers host thousands of kids every month looking to learn and have fun. To encourage more people, museums often set up synthetic ice rinks on a part of the main floor or the rooftop. Sometimes, these rinks stick around for sock skating, usually by popular demand. Smaller rinks are often available for toddlers and tweens.
Fall and Winter Events:
When the temperature drops, we see more events centered around fall and winter. From carnivals to state fairs and everything in between, it’s a great time to enjoy all the great things that come with the new seasons. Some of these events set up refrigerated ice rinks, but there’s now a rise in sock skating rinks made of synthetic ice.
Indoor play parks:
Do your kids love indoor play parks? These parks have trampolines, climbing walls, slides, jungle gyms, and other cool activities. With the demand for skating, you will soon find sock skating rinks in your local playpark.
Head online and search for ‘sock skating near me.’ You’ll find at least one of these locations with skating rinks, especially during the fall and winter. Make sure to bring a pair of socks to avoid overpaying at the venue.
Sock skating at home
What if you wanted to create a sock skating rink at home?
It’s as simple as setting up a synthetic ice rink and sliding to your heart’s content.
Indoor ice rinks with synthetic ice can happen on almost any surface, and use your ice skates for practice or family fun.
Here's how April and Davey were able to use our synthetic ice to surprise their kids:
You can do the same thing and swap out your skates for socks!
Here’s how to install your sock rink:
- Choose and measure your space. Most families choose a spare room, living room space, backyard, or deck. Almost any flat, smooth surface will work. Use a measuring tape to map out the square surface. Measuring helps you to choose the size and number of synthetic ice tiles. If you’re choosing an outdoor location, make sure to consider factors like weather and lighting.
- Is your surface level? A level surface minimizes falls and helps create a better skating experience. If you choose to use ice skates later, you’ll have a level surface already prepared. Use a laser level to double-check your surface, especially if you’re using the backyard. Place flat sheets of plywood before installing synthetic ice.
- When you get your synthetic ice, place each tile next to the other in the formation of your choice. Use a soft mallet to connect the edges and form your rink. Recruit some help from the family to speed up the installation.
- Sometimes, the rink needs a slip surface conditioner to make it slippery. The rink owner sprays a mist of the conditioner on the rink before skating. This is primarily for metal skates but can help with sock skating. Make sure to be careful as slippery rinks cause wipeouts!
And that’s it!
Slip on your socks and slip and slide around on your new skating rink.
7 Reasons to try sock skating at home
You don’t need to know how to skate: Anyone at any age could start sock skating. You don’t need to balance on skates or learn the fundamentals of ice skating, so even toddlers can start sock skating with confidence. The only focus is to skate and fall safely.
- It’s a cost-effective hobby: With ice skating, you’ll need to spend time getting to local rinks. You’ll also need to spend hundreds on skates and other equipment. Sock skating only requires the upfront cost of the synthetic ice rink, the slip conditioner, and lots of socks! Since you won’t be using metal blades on your synthetic ice, the rink will last longer than the 5-10 year shelf life of synthetic ice.
- You can skate any time of year: Don’t wait for the seasons to change to set up your rink. Since sock skating does not depend on ice, you and your family can have fun all year.
- It’s a great workout: Are you trying to stay active and burn some calories? Sock skating is a great way to get your blood pumping. Tone those legs while burning a few extra calories having fun with your kids.
- Cut down screen time: On average, kids 8-12 spend between 4-6 hours on screens. Teenagers spend up to 9 hours watching TV and interacting on social media. That’s a lot of screen time! Parents are constantly looking for ways to get kids to play outside or turn off the TV. With sock skating, kids can take their eyes off screens for a while and have fun on the ice.
- Get creative: Just sliding around for 30 minutes can get boring. However, there are some ways you can make sock skating more fun. For instance, you can play musical chairs on the ice! How about a sock skating talent show? Start your own TikTok sock skating channel! The possibilities are endless.
- Enjoy more family time: Sock skating can bring the family together to do something safe and fun. That’s the invaluable benefit of your own rink. Enjoy more bonding time with your kids and discover a new hobby or passion together. Sock skating is often the start and kids move on to figure skating or ice hockey. These are wonderful memories your kids won’t forget.
Sock skating is a hit with kids and we’ll continue to see them in museums and other facilities across the county.
However, you don’t need to wait to have some fun of your own.
Set up your skating rink at home and enjoy hours of sock skating fun with your kids.
With our Home Starter Kits, for instance, all you’ll need is 32 square feet of space to get started.
You can then scale up by simply adding more kits as you see fit.
If you need help figuring out which option is right for you, our team can help you out.
Slip on those socks and start skating!