What is the Difference Between Dryland Hockey Flooring and Synthetic Ice?
You’ve got a lot of options when it comes to how you want to set up your home hockey training area. The type of hockey flooring that you use, whether you want dryland tiles or synthetic ice, what you want to adorn your little rink with, the choices you have to make can be seemingly endless if you’re creative about your approach. With that being said, some choices are easier than others. Deciding whether or not you want to include a cardboard cut out of a goalie is an easier choice.
Deciding whether you want dryland hockey tiles or synthetic ice is a bit more complicated and requires a lot more research than the choice we just mentioned. These two types of flooring are both great for getting in some extra hockey training in your own home, but both have their strengths and weaknesses. Neither choice is a one size fits all solution to home hockey training. Different people have different situations at their homes, meaning that they would need to pick whichever works best for their particular situation so they can optimize the space that they have available.
Understanding What Synthetic Ice and Dryland Hockey Tiles Are
Before comparing and contrasting these two incredibly hockey training products, it’s good to understand what each product actually is. We will be covering a couple of similarities in this section, but it’s hard to explain the differences between the two without mentioning a few things that they have in common. As you may have already guessed, neither of these products are made out of water. Both are made up of chemical compounds that allow for the surface of either to be slick enough to get any hockey practice on them at all.
Explaining what synthetic ice is made of is a little easier than explaining what dryland hockey tiles are made of. Synthetic ice has actually evolved a lot in its time and only continues to evolve more and more as time goes on. The main goal of synthetic ice manufacturers is to make a surface that gives as much of a glide factor if not more of a glide factor than real ice. The first commercially available synthetic ice tiles were made out of polyoxymethylene plastic. As time went on, new materials were more commonly used. In the modern-day, most synthetic ice that you’ll find on the market is either made up of high-density polyethylene or ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene.
These materials are commonly used because of, you guessed it, the glide factor that they provide. The two materials that we listed give nearly as high of a glide factor as real ice, with some people even going so far as to claim that ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene provides a higher glide factor than ice. The jury’s still out on that one, but either way, you can be sure that you’ll get a good experience on the synthetic ice no matter what it’s made of.
Dryland hockey tiles are a little more difficult to explain simply because most manufacturers don’t share what they’re made of with the public. We can assume that they’re made up of plastic or a plastic-like substance, but without the manufacturers weighing in on the subject anything that we can say about its construction is nothing more than mere speculation. What we can say is that most dryland tiles are very durable and can stand up to a great deal of abuse. We’ll cover that in more detail in a moment, but the things that dryland hockey tiles can stand up to are very impressive.
What Makes Dryland Hockey Tiles Tick?
You’ve probably heard a thing or two about dryland hockey tiles while you’re been around other hockey players. These tiles are usually actually what people are referring to when they call something “hockey flooring” and it makes sense. When assembled it does look a lot like flooring. Most of the time you can find this product in either ice white or powder blue, which is definitely useful if you’re trying to make aesthetic choices. That’s definitely a point for those that want options for decorating their little ice rink.
Now, it’s incredibly important to note that you cannot use ice skates on dryland hockey tiles. These tiles are designed to be used with socks or shoes. If you use your ice skates on the dryland tiles you’ll destroy them, and possibly destroy your ice skates too. It’s a good idea to remember that, many people have made that mistake and most companies won’t replace the tiles if they were damaged in such a way. You may be thinking that they mustn’t be all that study if using your ice skates on them would destroy them, but that’s actually incorrect.
The reason why the ice skates will destroy the dryland tiles is that the blades on the skates are very sharp and when you skate you’re putting your entire body weight onto what are literally blades. That means that the amount of pressure that is created is compressed into a small enough area to cause damage in the form of grooves on the tiles. On the other hand, if you have something heavy like a car or other type of vehicle that has its weight distributed across an area it can actually support all of that weight without any issue.
It’s actually pretty common for people to just set up their dryland hockey tiles in their garage and park on top of them whenever they come home. You’ve got to be a little careful if you do this because the tiles are a little slick, but other than that you won’t have any issue. It’s also incredibly common for people to set up these tiles in their backyard and just leave them out year-round. This is possible because most dryland hockey tiles are actually designed to be weather-proof. Whether you have sun, rain, hail, or snow, odds are that your tiles will be fine. Make sure to check the information from the company you’re considering buying from if you want to be sure that the ones that you’re looking at have this feature.
How Good is Synthetic Ice in Comparison to Dryland Hockey Tiles?
If you’re trying to weigh all of your options so you can accurately determine which one is going to be the best choice for you, learning about the two major options that you have available to you is going to be incredibly important. Synthetic ice isn’t necessarily a better choice than dryland hockey tiles, nor is it a worse choice. It really depends on what your needs are and what kind of space you have available to you.
Synthetic ice is the option that you would want to go with if you or whoever in your household that plays hockey needs skating practice because you can actually use your ice skates on the synthetic ice. The glide factor of most synthetic ice tiles isn’t quite that of real ice, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on your perspective. Many people that consider it to be a blessing think of the lessened glide factor as an opportunity for some extra resistance training, while other people consider it to just make things more complicated when they’re trying to skate.
Regardless of which camp you find yourself in, knowing that there is a loss of glide factor is a good thing to know before you get into making your final choice. The nice thing about synthetic ice is that you can run pretty much any drill on it that you would run on real ice. That’s great for people that need practice shooting while they skate. That means that you could feasibly train like you’re playing real games if you have enough space for that size of a rink.
Much like dryland tiles, synthetic ice is usually weather-proof so it can stand up to just about any weather, no matter what time of year. That does make picking a place to set it up a little easier because you could realistically set it up in your backyard and just leave it there. That also makes it a lot easier to find storage solutions no matter which type of tiles you decide to go with. Because both the synthetic ice and the dryland hockey tiles are made up of interlocking tiles, that also means that both are pretty easy to get set up.
Pick Which is Best for You
No two people’s needs are exactly the same. Even you and your neighbor could end up getting different products simply because of the amount of space that you have and exactly what you need to train the most. Both options are great options and will get you some high-quality training that you might not have gotten the chance to get because it’s entirely too hot out for there to be any naturally occurring ice anywhere near your house.