Skating on synthetic ice has it’s advantages. Sure there are folks out there who love it and there are those who don’t – like anything. What I will write about here is my own experiences with my kids – both who I (more importantly all their coaches) always considered excellent skaters.
First I will say this: if a hockey player can do something on real ice then they could do it on a high quality synthetic hockey ice surface.
That being said there are some industry “negatives” I often hear about from people who really don’t understand or perhaps haven’t skated on the best synthetic ice surfaces:
- “you can’t skate backwards on synthetic ice”
- “goalies can’t do lateral slides”
- “there is too much resistance to skate properly”
- “will it affect my stride?”
There is no doubt that skating on synthetic ice where some products are concerned is radically different than real ice. There are some products that are so bad that it is difficult to skate backwards. Heck with some products it’s hard enough to skate forwards!
What motivated me to get into this business was our own experience with low quality products. It always amazed me that a business owner selling synthetic ice practice time would install a poor quality product but those were our first experiences with it. It was OK for shooting pucks but that was about it.
In my own experience here are things my own kids have worked on:
- stride mechanics (relationship of hip, knee, ankle, toe)
- posture (head up, back position, butt)
- stride starting position to recovery
- explosiveness (those first three quick strides)
- edge control (leaving your comfort zone on both edges)
- quick direction change
- agility, footwork, quick feet
And really this is just the tip of the iceberg. But these are some basic fundamentals that all aspiring young hockey players need to pursue to get better. If a hockey player doesn’t learn these things they will struggle. Period.
We’ve all seen that kid with the quirky stride. We used to call that “skating on railroad tracks” where they have that real choppy short stride. With proper instruction skating on synthetic ice can absolutely fix that if the player is committed to fixing it. They might be filling the net but if they skate poorly they won’t get very far in hockey.
A high quality synthetic ice product like we sell at SmartRink is a great investment for your hockey kid(s). Don’t listen to people who say you can’t do certain things on synthetic ice. They are ignorant and simply don’t know. They had a bad experience or knew someone else who did. What is important is that skating on synthetic ice can not only fix flaws in skating stride it can improve your overall game.
Do all the dryland training you want – there is no substitute for being on your skates to get better. Check out passing hockey drills and passing and shooting hockey drills that are fantastic when using synthetic ice rinks.