As ice hockey continues to grow in popularity, players and teams constantly seek ways to improve their skills and enhance their training. Two popular options for off-ice training are synthetic ice tiles and dryland flooring.
While both offer a way for players to practice their skating and hockey skills away from the rink, they have distinct differences.
This article will cover the dryland tiles vs synthetic ice comparison.
What is Synthetic Ice?
Synthetic ice is a surface material made from high-density plastic designed to simulate the feel and glide of natural ice.
It is typically used for ice skating and hockey practice, providing a slick and smooth surface for skating and other ice-specific movements.
Unlike natural ice, synthetic ice can be used both indoors and outdoors and doesn’t require refrigeration.
It can also be more cost-effective and convenient for those who don’t have access to a natural ice rink.
What is Dryland Flooring?
Dryland flooring is a surface material designed to provide a non-slip surface for off-ice hockey training exercises.
It is typically made from rubber or plastic and can be used for hockey-specific drills, including stickhandling, shooting, and passing.
Dryland Tiles vs Synthetic Ice Tiles
Material of surface
First and foremost, the main difference between synthetic ice and dryland flooring is the surface material. Synthetic ice is made from high-density plastic that mimics the feel and glide of natural ice. It requires regular maintenance to keep it slick and smooth, but it can be used indoors or outdoors and can be an excellent alternative for those who don’t have access to an ice rink.
On the other hand, dryland flooring is typically made from a rubber or plastic material that provides a non-slip surface for training exercises. Unlike synthetic ice, dryland flooring doesn’t mimic the feel of natural ice. However, it can still provide a suitable surface for hockey players to practice and improve specific skills away from the rink. It can be used for hockey-specific exercises, including stickhandling, shooting, and passing.
In addition, the most obvious disparity between the two types of flooring is that ice skating cannot be performed on dryland flooring due to the lack of necessary surface conditions required for ice skates to glide and perform the necessary movements. Unlike natural ice or synthetic ice, dryland flooring doesn’t offer the necessary low-friction surface that enables ice skates to glide, turn and stop effectively. As a result, it is unsuitable for ice skating and can even cause damage to ice skates due to the higher friction coefficient between the skate blades and the flooring surface.
Another key difference between synthetic ice and dryland flooring is the cost. Synthetic ice can be pretty expensive to install and maintain, while dryland flooring is generally more affordable and requires less maintenance. Creating a flooring surface that can consistently withstand the wear and tear of ice skates and generate its own lubricant requires a more sophisticated engineering approach, so synthetic ice is generally more expensive than dryland tiles. However, the initial investment for synthetic ice can be worth it for those who are serious about their off-ice training and want a surface that closely simulates the feel of natural ice.
Regarding the specific benefits of each type of flooring, synthetic ice offers the advantage of practicing skating and other ice-specific movements. This can be particularly useful for players who want to work on their edges or overall skating technique.
On the other hand, dryland flooring is better suited for stickhandling and shooting practice, as well as other off-ice exercises that can help players build strength and endurance.
Moreover, if rollerblading is your preference during hockey practice or play, then dryland tiles would be the better choice since rollerblading is not possible on synthetic ice. This is because the high-density plastic material of synthetic ice can cause increased friction between the wheels of rollerblades and the surface, making it difficult to achieve proper traction and movement.
Dryland Tiles vs Synthetic Ice Tiles: What’s Better?
Determining which type of flooring is better depends on the specific requirements and preferences of the individual.
If ice skating is the desired activity, synthetic ice is the obvious choice as it provides a smooth, slick surface similar to natural ice.
Attempting to ice skate on dryland flooring would be akin to skating on a kitchen floor, which is not ideal.
Conversely, dryland tiles may be the more suitable option for those who prefer rollerblading, given the high friction coefficient between the wheels of rollerblades and synthetic ice tiles.