The synthetic ice rink blog is dedicated to providing useful information to anyone considering a synthetic ice rink. The content is full of posts for hockey parents, hockey players, figure skaters, event planners, those interested in community recreation options, or those thinking about operating a synthetic ice training facility.
No different than any flooring surface – synthetic ice gets dirty and it should be regularly cleaned. The dirt comes from a variety of sources. Most of it is simply airborne dust that settles on the surface. Since most products are either white or light blue it tends to show up and can become unsightly if not taken care of.
Cleaning your synthetic ice surface does not have to be difficult, but that being said, the longer you postpone the job, the tougher it will become. Larger synthetic ice rink surfaces are clearly more work – unless you are fortunate enough to have a mechanical floor cleaning machine at your disposal. Over the years I have experimented with a variety of methods.
For smaller surfaces used at home probably the most common form of cleaning your synthetic ice is the old mop and bucket method. A good wet mop will loose up the dirt. Put a liberal amount of water on the surface and then wring out the mop and use it again to remove the dirty water. Repeat as required until you achieve the required result. If you have really stubborn ground in dirt then I have found that a stiff deck brush works wonders on puck marks and stick tape marks along with a little elbow grease. If nothing else its a good rigorous workout!
I am one of those people who happens to have a small mechanical floor cleaner which works great for synthetic ice. These devices have a scrubbing cylinder in front with a stiff brush. Water sprays out of the unit onto the ice surface and the scrubber works it into the surface and cleans it. The nice part is that it also sucks the dirty water back up into the unit’s holding tank. It usually takes me a few passes to get it looking nice again.
By far the most effective method has to be pressure washing. Most people own a pressure washer and they do an outstanding job on even the dirtiest synthetic ice surface. Some models even have a covered hood on the front of the machine with two rotating spray heads that really do an excellent job in removing stubborn dirt.
Finally, many people wonder if a detergent or degreaser is recommended? What we usually advise is if the surface becomes clean using only warm water then don’t worry about a cleaner. If you find water is not working well enough then use a neutral (low or non foaming) cleaner. What you don’t want to do is leave behind a foam or cleaner residue. Although this won’t harm the product, it could leave an unwanted residue behind. If you do use a cleaner then just make sure that it is rinsed off really well.
I hope you find this article useful for cleaning your synthetic ice and if done regularly you should be able to maintain a nice clean looking surface for the life of the product. Ensuring that your surface is clean will make for a better skating experience on your synthetic ice rink.
Hockey Drill Series – Volume 1:Drill #2
Making Excellent Passes…Every Time
In last month’s hockey drill we wrote about making a pass, receiving a pass and then taking a shot. In today’s drill we are going to simply focus on making excellent passes – everytime. It’s important in hockey to make good strong accurate passes. Your team mates will certainly appreciate your ability to pass well, and certainly so will your coaches.
A couple of things we want to focus on is the accuracy and also the strength of the pass. First let’s consider accuracy. In order to be accurate you need to define the target. Generally the target is going to be the receivers stick – or more accurately, the blade of the stick. Start out with two players on with skates on the synthetic ice. If your rink is big enough then position yourselves about 20 feet apart to start. If the rink is smaller then go with whatever space you have. Player 1 makes a pass to player 2. The idea is to get the puck right on the stick such that the receiving players does not have to move the stick much or at all. If you can get used to doing this over and over then it just creates good life long passing habits. Just focus on the target not on the puck. If you focus on the target then your brain will know what to tell your body to do to get the puck there. It really does work! If you are having trouble with that then get closer together or slow it down a bit until you can control it accurately. Once you have it down then move further apart and keep going.
Once you are able to continuously get the puck on the tape then you can start to put some more force on the pass and make them progressively harder passes. But maintain your accuracy while passing with more zip. As the passes become harder it will become more important to develop “soft hands” and cradle the stick just as the puck gets to your blade. What you are trying to do here is pull back the stick just slightly to “absorb” the pass as its gets there. If you don’t cradle the puck then it will hit your blade and skip over. You want to develop those soft hands by rolling your top wrist back and forth to “cradle” or develop a rocking sensation.
So essentially that’s the drill. I know its super basic but if you never learn how to make an accurate pass you won’t go very far in hockey. Spend some time on this and before you know it you’ll be impressing your team mates and your coaches and becoming a more valuable player.
Until the next drill, keep practicing!
SmartRink Synthetic Ice Rink Hockey Drills
Hockey Drill Series – Volume 1: Drill #1
Give a pass, take a pass and shoot:
This one is pretty basic as hockey drills go but it’s one that almost anyone with a synthetic ice surface can work on. You don’t necessarily even need a second person, which I’ll explain in a minute.
So what you are working on in this drill is a combination of your passing and receiving a pass skills, plus shooting. There are several objectives with this hockey drill. The first is to work on the accuracy and timing of giving a pass. You want to get the puck right on the tape of the other player in the drill and ideally they are providing a pass to you with the same objective in mind. If you find that your passes are not very accurate then you can work on that by slowing it down a notch and making sure that you follow through on your pass by pointing at the intended target – which is the other stick.
Before you worry about part two of this “hockey drill”, make sure you are first really comfortable and accurate on making and receiving a pass. Once you have that mastered you can move on to the second part of the drill which is receiving a pass and then shooting the puck at a net or target.
So you make a pass and then receive a pass back, and then shoot. Again, keep it simple to start with. Start out with a wrist shot at your target. Pick various targets, upper right, upper left of the net and so on until you are consistently hitting your target. Call out your target before you shoot and try to mentally keep track of your success.
If you are young and just starting out, don’t worry about using a puck just yet, Use a tennis or hockey ball and work your way up to a puck.
If you are practising by yourself and wish to work on this hockey drill you still can! There is a product out there called Perfect Passer and you can buy it online. These triangular metal frames use a rubber band to send the puck back to you for passes and one-timers. They work quite well and are designed to be used with pucks.
Again, this is a basic hockey drill you can do with skates on using your home synthetic ice surface. Master this drill and you will be on your way to filling the net at will.
Check out part 2 of passing hockey drills.
Until next time.
SmartRink Synthetic Ice Rink Hockey Drills
Synthetic ice sheets
Synthetic ice sheets come in all shapes, size and in a variety of different materials. Every seller of synthetic ice sheets has their particular thought around why theirs is better or faster or cheaper or what have you. To the average consumer it can be just super confusing. There are now dozens of companies selling into the market, and some are fly by night operations and some make it their full time business. How is a consumer supposed to navigate through all the synthetic ice sheet options?
Set a realistic synthetic ice sheet budget
Most people honestly just don’t have any clue what to expect when they are looking for pricing. And then when they get it they often think “it’s too expensive”. Well you aren’t buying tupperware here folks. Synthetic ice sheets can become a significant investment and good products cost some money. I wouldn’t say any company is out there making a killing on their product margins – there is just too much competition – and we all keep each other pretty honest – or simply we lose sales. For a home based skills practice surface you should expect to invest between $1,000 and $5,000 on average. Now this is going to depend of course on the size of the surface and the type of material. Comparing what synthetic ice product is best for you all depends on what you need the product for.
What is the best synthetic ice sheet material?
Everyone thinks their particular brand is the best. The mis-information that is out there in this industry should almost be a crime! The industry players don’t even understand their own material, and yet they are selling it! Your best protection as a consumer or buyer is to ask lots of questions and stick with the companies that can provide good solid answers. When it comes to synthetic ice sheet material – do your homework, because the differences are vast. Always, Always, Always, higher priced material is better material!! Ignore the industry idiots that claim they have the best skating material for less money. If that were true then they truly are dumb. That’s like saying ‘I sell Porsche’s for the same price as Chevrolet’s”. It just doesn’t happen. Ignore those companies…scratch them off your list of legitimate synthetic ice sheet suppliers.
So what synthetic ice sheet should I buy?
Do you buy a car without driving it first? Do you buy a pair of skates without trying them on? Well SmartRink continues to be THE ONLY company in the world – as far as we know – that offers a FREE TRIAL of our synthetic ice. You pay the shipping, we send product. You like, you buy. You don’t like. you send it back. Simple, simple, simple. To date we have actually taken back 3 trials. People try it and for whatever reason they didn’t keep it. Could be a case of buyer remorse, or second “sober” thoughts, or “the boss” thought it was too much money, or it took up too much space in the apartment, or my two year old couldn’t really skate on it….anyway – we take it back. So there you have it. We have sent out literally hundreds of FREE TRIALS and 3 came back. So the smart money goes to the smart consumer who reduces their risk by taking advantage of a FREE TRIAL of SmartRink synthetic ice sheets. Even if you don’t want to work with SmartRink, at least challenge the other suppliers to offer a free trial as well. Read about our synthetic ice research to help you with your decision.
Is synthetic ice training really what you or your child needs? This post is going to attempt to help you answer that question. First of all you have to ask yourself what it is that you are trying to achieve. Are you focused on getting a better shot? Is it skating you are looking to improve? Perhaps it’s puck handling. Maybe it’s all of those things. Regardless, you have to try to decide what your priorities are and whether a synthetic ice surface will help.
There are a lot of misconceptions about synthetic ice in general. There are a great many products around now and some are good and some are poor. In very general terms you can pretty well do anything on the better quality synthetic ice training products. The low end products can be fine for shooting but bad for skating. It’s really worthwhile to understand what you are buying. If your goal is to be able to work on your stride mechanics for example then make sure you look at the best quality products or you will be disappointed. I often hear hockey dads and moms complaining that the synthetic ice is bad or too difficult to skate on. In some cases they are correct. But to be fair in a lot of cases their child is simply a poor skater mechanically. A choppy stride on real ice will not mysteriously translate into a smoother stride on synthetic ice. It will likely look even worse! If a kid has never been taught about how to take a full stride and then a full recovery of that stride then they will struggle on synthetic ice. Sorry parents, I know its not what you want to hear but its a fact. Most kids are never taught to run either, and therefore some can run smoothly naturally, and others are poor runners. Skating is much more complex. Real ice can hide those flaws because the child can glide and therefore get away with their stride flaws. But skating on the right synthetic ice surface can be easy!
As far as shooting and puck skills improvement go – there is probably no better tool than synthetic ice training. That being said, they still need to have the basic instruction as a foundation to improvement. I have certainly seen first hand how my oldest child went from a below average shooter to a consistently top point player on whatever team he played on. His “big breakthrough” came one summer when he literally took 10,000 shots with his skates on training on synthetic ice. This gave him tremendous confidence in his game, and he’s now 20 years old and still plays junior hockey and is in love with the game. For him synthetic ice training at home was a tremendous investment in his skill that will be with him for life.
If your child is one who might be described as a timid player – then synthetic ice training can be used to develop his “competitive spirit or drive”. Hockey dads get your skates on too and work on angling, rubbing out, small body contact, driving the net and so on. There are dozens of fun little drills you can dream up. Stop saying “I wish my kid could do this or that”. They can do it. I’ve seen it myself. I have seen kids transform from mild mannered kids off ice to super competitive players on ice. But they have to put the time in, and there has to be a lot of patience at times (I’m talking to you hockey parents).
Synthetic ice training is no magic trick. It’s a training tool that allows you the flexibility for your child to train when they want, in the privacy of your home. It allows hockey dad to have countless hours of fun with your kids and to help them with all those little subtle things that will make them better players.
So in summary, decide first what skills you will like to work on most, and then decide on the quality of product you can afford. The best product ARE the most expensive – regardless of what the suppliers all say. If you are not 100% sure how much to get – then buy a smaller amount now and then once you get it you can always buy more later. Have fun and enjoy your synthetic ice training!!
Check out these hockey drills you can try on your synthetic ice surface.
Had a great discussion today with a Montreal homeowner looking to create a backyard rink using our SmartSkate8000 product which is a dovetail connection system. He currently has a grass surface so we talked about what he would require to do to prepare the surface for that product type. Montreal is obviously a winter climate with lots of snow and freezing wet weather, so its important to do it right.
He was thinking that he would create a crib frame using framed lumber – likely 2×6. He wanted a size that was approximately 10 ft x 16.5 ft. It was suggested that the lumber frame could be mounted on some concrete patio stones that would allow easy leveling of the frame. Inside the frame a landscaping cloth should be stapled to the wood frame to hold it in place. Then either sand or crushed stone would make a great base that would allow any water to easily drain.
The client did some research on what could be used as a solid base on top of the levelled and compacted sand or crushed stone base. The product he came up with is called EZ Base and its a polypropylene material with drainage holes. Looks like it should work really well. Plywood could be used as well but I’d like it to be a marine grade product and then drainage holes should be drilled in the plywood to allow water to drain. You can learn more about backyard synthetic ice rink boards our clients have used.
After all this is done the building the backyard synthetic ice rink is pretty well done other than to install the synthetic ice itself. That will the easiest part! Simply take a rubber mallet and bang the joints together tightly, and away you go for a skate.
Hope this post might help a few folks with building a simplistic base for building the backyard synthetic ice rink.
Finally a new synthetic ice product…
It’s really been sometime since something truly innovative has come along with the synthetic ice industry – until now! SmartRink is extremely pleased to announce the newest material in their impressive lineup. It’s a brand new synthetic ice product and we call it ProFast-SG. The “SG” stands for “SmartGlide”. SmartGlide refers to the permanent glide material that has been thoroughly mixed and infused with the dry resin prior to being sinter pressed. The reason this technology is “smart” is because the glide material is found completely throughout the pressed sheet material. It’s not just a patch here and a patch there as other material makers have. It’s not “dripping” out at the “pores” of the material as some well known products are known to be like. This material is “smart” because it actually feels “dry” to the touch. It’s not greasy, it does not drip, it does not leach out or evaporate. It just stays there and does it’s job – for the life of the panel – just like you would expect.
Truly a heavy duty synthetic ice connection system
The commercial synthetic ice rink panel shown in this image is the ProFast1500-SG. This is a heavy duty commercial synthetic ice panel that is 15mm (0.60 inch) thick that uses our “hybrid” connection system – a combination of male and female machined perimeter edges and H-Tongues for connecting the solid synthetic ice line markings and creases. This is a rink that will not fail due to expansion, contraction, or severe temperature changes. This product has it all!
A happy synthetic ice owner
The owner of this new synthetic ice rink certainly thought so when his son saw it for the first time and spent 2 straight hours on it – after just playing 8 hockey games over the past 3 days!
Enjoy your new rink!
Finally there is a new technology available for synthetic ice that comes with an infused glide solution – that will not wear out!
SmartRink is now promoting their newest technology for synthetic ice! We call this the “SmartGlide” because it contains a glide additive that is found throughout the product.
But hang on a second, haven’t other companies been promoting this for some time already? Well yes they have, but the technology has never been that good frankly. in the case of one company the product actually feels “wet” and the silicon they use is seeping out of the material. What do you think happens when that continues to occur? What do you think happens when the product expands or contracts due to temperature changes? Presumably when that wet material leaches out then what is left behind is empty space and then the product will really start to wear down prematurely. This is one of several companies that advertise themselves as the “best in the world”. Well if that is the best then we would hate to see the worst! Other companies also claim to have mastered this complex manufacturing technique but when we have tested it out it just felt slow and indeed their clients have told us that they still need to add glide solution to the surface. Well that’s no good either.
So the R&D people behind our products decided to take this a step further and really examine another approach to making this work. What they were able to do was mix the dry resin with the glide additives in such a way as to create a product that was so thouroughly mixed that it actually feels “dry” to the touch but when skated on you can definitely notice the glide additives under the skate blades.
In the end we have produced a product that will not require the use of a sprayed on glide solution. And the best part is that it will never “leach” or “run” out of the sinter pressed sheet because it will be a single homogeneous sheet where the material in the centre of the sheet will be exactly the same as the material on the surface or the edges of the sheet.
They will outglide and outlast any of our competition.
Hockey lines and creases for synthetic ice rinks need to be safe:
We receive inquiries everyday about the possibility of adding hockey lines and creases to synthetic ice rink products. Well the good news is that it is certainly possible. The bad news is that not many systems out there actually do it in a quality manner. Read on and I’ll explain. From what I have seen out there in the field many suppliers and re-sellers simply try to “loose lay” the lines and creases between the full panels of dovetail style synthetic ice. This is an extremely poor method of trying to add hockey lines and creases for synthetic ice rinks. Here’s why. First of all the substrate surface would have to be laser leveled and perfectly flat for this to work. It might work on the factory floor but introduce variables such as uneven asphalt or concrete and you’ll have a frustrating and unsafe installation on your hands. I have witnessed firsthand how pucks will not glide over this type of hockey line or crease for synthetic ice rinks. The market likes the do-it-yourself ease of the dovetail style joint system. Everyone sells one. But how we do hockey lines and creases for synthetic ice rinks is we actually machine the “lines” and goal creases into the panel – so that they are actually part of the panel.
Synthetic ice creases can be can have different looks
We aren’t saying this is the “prettiest” or most authentic looking method by any stretch – but it looks quite good and more importantly it works excellent with puck movement and is completely safe for the skater. Now if you are really serious about looking pro then we can do that too. With our commercial lineup of synthetic ice we use a commercial grade connection system. You see – anyone that sells a standard dovetail system and calls it “commercial” grade needs a lesson in strength of connection systems. We sell three system that would qualify as a “commercial” grade because the horizontal and vertical tear apart strength is significantly greater than a standard dovetail system. Anyway – our commercial grade systems use solidly connected hockey lines and creases for synthetic ice rinks. And yes they are more expensive! But they look awesome, they are safe for the skater in any weather, and the puck nicely glides over them.
Hockey lines and creases for synthetic ice rinks for any indoor or outdoor application
So if you happen to be in the market and are looking for hockey lines and creases for synthetic ice rinks then look no further. Call us and we can discuss your application and options.
So here is the newest SmartRink project using our ProFast1800 heavy duty severe climate connection system for our synthetic ice. It’s no coincidence that clients are asking us for this connection system because they know just how awesome it is. It doesn’t matter if there is snow, ice, freezing temperatures or a heat wave, this connection system is the only one that will prevent the typical problems known to be caused by expansion and contraction of synthetic ice floors.
What is also really interesting about this synthetic ice video is that we get to show off just how well this product works without any glide solution added to the surface. The ProFast1800 material uses a dry slip additive as part of the manufacturing process. I can tell you first hand (just watch the video) how well it works. When the spray on glide enhancer is added the product can’t be beat in terms of realistic glide action for synthetic ice.
Cave and Basin is a National Historic Site developed and run by Parks Canada. The SmartRink synthetic ice surface installed here has become part of the multi million dollar restoration and enhancement of this beautiful historic site located in Banff Alberta. The site is surrounded by soaring mountains and might just be the most spectacular rink setting we have ever built.