Value Of Home Training On Synthetic Ice
Value Of Home Training On Synthetic Ice
If you want to become a better hockey player, there’s only so much you can do without skates. At some point, all the cardio and strength training in the world won’t help. You’ll need to work on the skills you need for playing the game, and whacking a plastic puck or a street hockey ball off the garage door won’t cut it.
Hockey players need ice. Unfortunately, not all players have unfettered access to ice time at the local rink, and few if any live in climates that provide year-round or nearly year-round outdoor ice. Synthetic ice has become a real solution for players who need something to skate on when the real thing isn’t available.
Fortunately, fake ice has made leaps and bounds beyond earlier efforts to replicate frozen water. The Glaciarium, which opened in London in 1844, never caught on because the public couldn’t handle the smell of a skating surface concocted of a mixture of salts, copper sulfate and lard. And the first synthetic skating surfaces, which arrived in the 1960s, stunk in another way — being no slicker than the plastic cutting board in your kitchen and dulling blades far quicker.
Such problems have largely been alleviated with newer products, which feature gliding characteristics closer to real ice. They also can provide reasonably satisfying practice stops and can last for years.
Real Benefits of Fake Ice
Here are some of the reasons why you should consider training on synthetic ice:
• It takes more effort. Even though some synthetic ice products have closed the gap considerably, none of them is as smooth as ice. So, there’s more friction against skate blades, and skating requires more exertion. Like a weighted ring on a bat in the on-deck circle makes a baseball player’s swing feel quicker once the doughnut is gone, hockey players will feel faster with less exertion on real ice.
• It provides “ice” time. With a real puck, from atop skates, you can work on your skills in more authentic ways than are possible in gym shoes or with a street hockey ball on roller blades. Stick-handling, shooting and virtually all skating maneuvers — from hockey stops to backward crossovers — can be performed on high-end synthetic surfaces.
• It’s always there. Breakthroughs can come at strange moments. Formal practice is seldom the time to experiment with technique or a new move. Having the freedom of a private environment allows you to indulge your hockey imagination, to risk failure and test your limits — not to mention get hundreds and even thousands more reps.
Prior to the 2017-18 season, the Toronto Maple Leafs installed a synthetic ice “shooting range” replicating a 60-foot zone from the blue line next to their Mastercard Centre Rink.
Among the many current NHL players to install synthetic ice for home use is Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov. In the summer of 2017, he covered the floor of the two-car garage at his home in the Tampa, Florida area.
“I get bored,” Kucherov told NHL.com. “I’ll go there for 20 minutes, 40 minutes, a couple times a day. There’s not much to do in the summer, so … ”
So Kucherov went out and put up his first 100-point season.
How Much Would It Cost?
Manufacturers differ, but let’s say you want to cover a roughly 10-foot-by-20-foot space, or 200 square feet, in your basement with a skateable surface. Here’s one way to go about it:
Should You Go Faux?
Most new synthetic ice products are easy to install, require no application of liquids or sprays to enhance glide, are maintained mostly by an occasional vacuuming or mopping, aren’t anywhere near as tough on skate blades as their predecessors were, and they last years. If you have space — a corner of the basement, a garage, a patio — a synthetic ice surface is truly a home-ice advantage.
Author bio: AJ Lee is Marketing Coordinator for Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life. AJ picked up his first hockey stick at age 3, and hasn’t put it down yet.