Developing the proper “hockey stop” technique is an important skill for any new and developing ice hockey player. Not only does this stop, and look cool when the ice sprays everywhere, but it’s also an efficient way for players to stop their momentum and keep their bodies in the proper position for continued play.
If you are considering purchasing a synthetic ice set up for your home, you may find yourself wondering whether or not you can practice your drills and hockey maneuvers on the surface. The answer is yes, you can perform a hockey stop on synthetic ice. You can perform a variety of drills on the surface of this polymer-based material, such as crossovers, toe kicks, and stops and starts.
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How to Hockey Stop On Synthetic Ice
Jim Vitale, who has been coaching hockey for over two decades, says this about hockey stops on synthetic ice: “You can really come to a full stop with the same type of resistance.” Premium-grade synthetic ice is the closest thing to real ice that you can find on the market these days.
When you go to practice your hockey stops, you’ll want to get low as you begin to stop. By pushing your weight down, you’ll gain more control and your skates will dig into the ice.
The bit of increased resistance found on synthetic ice means that once you’re used to working harder during practice, you’ll have more power once you hit real ice which improves your game overall. You may even find it easier to engage your hockey stops on the real ice once you’ve been trying them on the synthetic stuff.
What is Synthetic Ice Made Of?
Synthetic ice is made from a polymer material that is commonly divided into panels that the end-user simply pieces together to fit whatever dimensions they require. This material holds up to the metal blades of hockey skates and is a great tool for players that provides them with a fairly realistic “ice” to practice on.
Synthetic ice is a great choice for people who want to turn their garage or a portion of their backyard into a practice area. In fact, players such as Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins have even purchased their own outdoor setup for their young children.
In the past, synthetic ice wasn’t considered a great option as the surface would damage skates and the movement didn’t feel realistic. However, through years of innovations — synthetic ice is a fairly close stand-in for the real thing and has improved texture that offers a similar “slip” as ice does.
Open ice time can be hard to come by in some areas and especially during the summer months, but with synthetic ice set up, you can use it year-round at your convenience.
Why Many Players Choose Synthetic Ice
The synthetic ice panels are incredibly easy to put together as they fit like a puzzle and only require a mallet to knock them firmly into place. This makes setup a breeze and allows the player to lace up their skates and get moving as quickly as possible.
NHL players who have skated on synthetic ice say that the surface response is 95-100% in puck response, which is pretty impressive. This makes it a practical solution for off-season practice when players may not have immediate access to a nearby rink and simply want to practice some puck handling and footwork drills.
There’s no need to ensure that the panels stay cool and they can even be set up outside during the warm summer months. There is very little maintenance required and if taken proper care of, the panels can last for many years with heavy and frequent use.
Players can practice a few drills in the morning or evening to stay sharp on their skills. There’s no commute required and no extra charge for using the local rink.
How to Properly Maintain Synthetic Ice for Best Results
Once you’ve invested in synthetic ice, you’ll want to upkeep it so that it lasts you many years. Some quick tips for keeping your synthetic ice in the best possible shape while you practice on it are:
- Keep your skates sharp — especially when you’re practicing hockey stops and digging the blades into the surface, it’s important that you don’t damage the material with dull blades.
- Cover the panels with a tarp when not in use, especially if you’ve set them up outdoors.
- Sweep off your synthetic ice to ensure you have a clean and clear surface to get to work on — no Zamboni required.
- Apply a lubricating finish if the brand of tiles you purchased requires it — this ensures the proper “slide” of the synthetic ice for a realistic feel.
Synthetic Ice Can Be a Great Option
All in all, synthetic ice can be an incredibly convenient option for players of all ages and skill levels. From young players just learning how to skate to NHL players who want an easy way to practice some drills — synthetic ice provides a great alternative to seeking out an ice rink daily.
Hockey stops can be performed on synthetic ice, along with a wide variety of other drills and maneuvers. The art of the hockey stop is an important skill for a player to have in their repertoire, as it allows them to keep playing at full speed and ensures they won’t miss their next shot.