So you've finally decided you like the idea of investing in a synthetic ice rink for your hockey player or figure skater so they can enjoy ice skating at home. Then as you start to do your research you quickly become overwhelmed and wonder which way to turn after trying to educate yourself on what is truly the "Best" product available at a reasonable price.
When things start to get a little crazy it's always best to take a step and evaluate the reasons why you started your search in the first place. This can help you access what makes the most sense moving forward BEFORE buying your synthetic ice rink.
There are four basic questions you need to ask yourself before buying a synthetic ice rink:
# 1 – Who is the Rink for?
Beginner or advanced skater? If the rink is intended for a beginner that wants to learn how to skate, trust me when I say you do not need much more than 100 square feet to achieve this goal. The nice thing is there are many options available today that can help you create either a "skating lane" or runway for forward and backward strides or mini-rink shape for cross-overs and turns. The age and/or size of the skater will help you decide on the overall size of your start-up rink. If the rink project is for an advanced skater that you know has already committed a lot of time to work on their skills then you may feel more comfortable investing in a larger rink knowing it will be put to good use.
#2 – What is the Purpose for the Rink?
Is the purpose of your rink for recreational use or to train to become a stronger skater? If you simply want the easiest skating surface that feels the most natural when compared to real ice then purchasing an infused surface may be your best choice with the understanding that is important to maintain the surface by keeping it clean. If your skater is focused on trying to become a stronger skater then resistance is a good thing (as many trainers will tell you) and you don't necessarily have to find the product with the lowest coefficient of friction to achieve your goals.
#3 – Is there a Dedicated Space for your Rink?
If you've allocated a dedicated space for your rink you may want to opt for larger panels with less seams over your rink layout. If you're not pressed for time with the installation of your rink you could entertain a spline with "tongue and groove" connection method that involves multiple parts. If you prefer a quicker connection method then a one piece "dovetail" profile will help make your project a quicker one. If your space is for multi-purcpose use it would be wise to choose a lighter, more portable panel for easy set-up and breakdown so the space can be quickly utilized for other things when not in use.
#4 – What is your Budget?
Limit the cost to what you can afford to get your rink project started. Sit down and give some thought to what size budget makes the most sense for your rink project. Be honest with yourself when you ask, "Person, Purpose and Space?" for your rink. Take that information and do your research in finding three (3) manufacturers that can provide references, reviews & samples to help you make your decision. When figuring your budget you will also need to consider what if any savings will be made by having a home practice rink. There may be a cost savings associated with less travel back-and-forth to the rink. Will this save you any fuel costs or wear and tear on your vehicle? WIll the rink eventually pay for itself in savings? What is the value of your own time spent traveling when you could be doing other things? All these things add up and when you take the time to put it all down on paper you'd be suprised on just how much.
Go through the Exercise
By going through the exercise of laying it all out on paper before cuing up the Google search bar it will help keep you focused on what your project needs are. What's good for one person or skater does not always apply to everyone....in fact, very rarely does it. We all have different needs and ideas on what the best personal choices are for all of us. A home rink project is just like any other home project. There's no need to make a hasty decision until you've given it some real thought.