Many hockey players wonder all the time, which is going to be better? The slick tiles vs synthetic ice debate has been going on just about as long as the two products have existed. Which one is actually better? It’s hard to say, and especially when you’re looking at two products that are so incredibly similar. We’ve gone ahead and done our homework so that you don’t have to, and we think that we’ve been able to come up with good arguments for both sides. By the end of this article, you’ll realize that the only real winner here is you.
There are a lot of different things that you need to keep in mind when deciding which of these products will work best for you. What exactly is it that you need to train more, how much space do you have to set up your rink, are you looking to leave your rink set up, the list goes on. No one knows exactly what you need from this experience better than you do, so let’s try to move forward through the rest of this article while looking through a lens of what you need.
Getting Your Foot in the Door
Before we begin, let’s make sure that all of our readers fully understand what we’re talking about. This will help us save some time for the readers that may have gotten here by mistake, and will also allow our readers that are new to this conversation some much-needed insight into the world of hockey training flooring. There’s a lot to know about this topic because it is a rather big industry with a lot of rich history leading up to the present day. We enter this section of the article with a simple question, “what are synthetic ice and slick tiles?”
Synthetic ice is an easier nut to crack because its history is well documented, and many people that are invested in synthetic ice commonly exchange information about what it’s made up of. Now, to clear up the common misconceptions, synthetic ice is not made out of real ice. Most commonly it’s made up of a type of polyethylene with an incredibly complicated chemical composition. The first appearance of this type of synthetic ice was actually in England in the late 1800s, but the synthetic ice that we use today is much nicer than the one that they first created.
As you might imagine, synthetic ice is designed to get you some practice in your ice skates. The materials that are used to construct synthetic ice are used because they are able to provide a glide factor that is very close to true ice. That means that you can get some really good skating practice in on this surface and only feel a small amount of additional drag. Some synthetic ice tiles require lubricant, but as time goes on fewer and fewer products need to be lubricated to provide an adequate experience for its users.
Now we get to slick tiles. These are called a lot of different things. Slick tiles, hockey tiles, dryland hockey tiles, the list goes on. There isn’t quite as much information available about these hockey tiles as there is for synthetic ice because, by comparison, this product is a lot newer. Hockey tiles are not designed to be used with ice skates, rather with your shoes or socks. They can provide some incredibly high-quality stickhandling training sessions and can get you a feel for hitting the puck around the ice, but you won’t be able to get any ice skating practice with these. Is it worth the trade-off? Let’s continue and find out.
Finding the Most Practical Solution
If we lived in a world where we had unlimited space we’d rarely run into logistical issues. That being said, we do usually have a lot of spatial constraints that can make a huge difference in your day-to-day life. When it comes to these kinds of issues, it’s best to think of practical solutions that make the most sense. We’re looking for efficiency here, and we’re looking for which option will be optimal no matter how much space you have at your disposal.
The first thing that we’ll have to look at is which one is better for just staying up. Once you set up the rink, that’s that. You likely don’t have to worry about having to pull the tiles apart and put them back down over and over ad infinitum. Well, depending on how much space you have either of these types of tiles will work fine. Both are weather-proof so if you want to set up either in your backyard and just leave it there, you can. Things get a little trickier if you need to keep the area available for other purposes.
That’s because synthetic ice is very slippery, much like real ice. There might be more drag when you use your ice skates, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any easier to walk on than real ice. The dryland hockey tiles are generally better for this because you can keep your traction a lot easier in your shoes. That means that if you plan to leave these tiles in your garage and forget about them, you’d probably want to go with the hockey tiles simply because it’s the more convenient option among the two.
The same can be said if you want to leave your rink out while you have family over. If you have a room that you can dedicate to this or even a shed or have some other space you’ve cordoned off it doesn’t make much of a difference, but if you have a smaller backyard it’s generally a better idea to go with the dryland hockey tiles. Any time someone could be expected to walk over the tiles it’s better to go with the safer option. Synthetic ice just generally isn’t considered to be good for walking on unless you just so happen to be really good at walking on ice.
Which Provides Better Training?
Now, when it comes to training products it’s important to know exactly, you know, how high quality of training you’ll be able to get by using it. Why else would you even bother investing your time and money into a home ice skating rink if it won’t help you get results? Both of these options are great for training, but which one is better? One of them has to have an edge over the other one, right? This could be the only factor that’s important to you, so this is made doubly important to you.
Dryland hockey tiles can get you a pretty good training session. It offers a lot of opportunities for training things like stickhandling and hitting the puck. That means that over time you’re likely to get more and more accurate with your shots. You can also use the dryland hockey tiles for goalie practice, especially if you have a friend around. If you need ice skating training, this option won’t work very well for you at all, unfortunately. As we mentioned earlier, you only want to be on the dryland hockey tiles in your shoes or socks.
Synthetic ice on the other hand is able to do everything that dryland hockey tiles can do but you can use your skates on them. That means that if getting a good training session in is your only concern and you have enough space for it, ten times out of ten you’re going to want to go with the synthetic ice. Even if you’re already good at ice skating, having the ability to get some on the ice practice year-round, any time of day or night can have an incredible impact on your skills as you watch them continue to grow.
What’s nice about either option is that if you have the space you could realistically build up an entire full-sized ice skating rink. Most companies even sell tiles that are different colors so you can recreate the lines that would be on an actual ice hockey rink during games. In fact, both of the products that we’re talking about today can be scaled to any size that you need, whether that’s just a few square feet or nearly a whole warehouse. You can even get creative with decorations if you feel like that will keep you more in the zone.
Getting a Clear Answer
It can be hard to discuss topics of “best” or “worst” or even “which is better?” without having a great deal of context to fully understand what parameters we’re talking about. Fortunately, you have all of the context in the world about your situation and there’s a good chance that you know exactly which product will fit the most easily into your home so you can up your training game. Whether you’re a newbie or a professional you can still benefit from getting some high-quality training right in the comfort of your own home.