When the temperature steadily staying below zero many skaters have enjoyed being on an outdoor rink. There are few picturesque settings better than skating outside while the snow falls around you. Outdoor rinks can be a great place for communities to share the joy of skating and backyard rinks are perfect for families to spend some time having fun together or for players to work on their skills. Many towns often set up outdoor rinks for public skating and for everyone to enjoy.
Whether going for a simple skate or working on your shot, the outdoor rink is a great backdrop for players to spend time outside this winter. Be sure to bundle up and have some hot chocolate nearby before hitting the ice.
Here are six tips to have the best outdoor hockey experience. These are best to be used in rinks designated for hockey or in a private backyard rink.
Remember, outdoors rinks are meant for light-hearted, fun hockey on a more leisurely level. The cold weather won't last for much longer so take advantage of it while you still can. Take it easy, especially if you’re playing with younger kids. Nobody wants to get hurt. Avoid slapshots and body contact.
Don’t worry about rules of the game like icing and offside, just invite some teammates over and enjoy the experience. Outdoor rinks are great for the whole family to enjoy. Remember to stay safe and be careful of the other people around you who may not be as experienced on skates. It’s easy to fall in love with the outdoor rink experience – TSN’s Darren Dreger shares his passion and some tips for outdoor rink tips on the Breakaway Podcast.
Just because you aren't at the rink doesn't mean you can take a break from being safe. Helmets should still be worn at all times. If you are practicing shooting, be aware of who is around you and what safety equipment they are wearing. Exercise caution and keep your sticks and pucks down.
Backyard rinks don’t always have the benefit of netting or boards to keep the puck in the playing area. If the puck goes out of the rink and it’s your fault, it’s your job to go retrieve it so everyone can continue playing. A quick fix for this is to bring a bucket of pucks with you and do one big cleanup after you’re done playing.
If you can’t find a goalie to join you on the outdoor rink there are some variations of games you can play without a netminder. Use a shooter tutor or switch to mini nets to change things up. You can play Posts or make a rule that you can’t raise the puck, making it easier for someone to play defence in net. This is also a chance to work on some drills from the OMHA Players Club on an ice surface.
When you’re done playing, shovel the ice to remove any excess snow. Clean up any garbage and leave the ice ready for the next group who may use it. Try to leave the ice as you found it if skating in a public rink. If it’s a backyard rink, flood the ice so it can freeze overnight.
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