Freezing cold temperatures have been slow to arrive in the Northeaster United States this winter, which should explain the lateness of this post. If I’d have had my thinking shoes on, however, I’d have probably helped my member friends all the more by giving them some time to plan. In other words — for reasons I’ll explain later, perhaps the best time to start thinking about a backyard rink is during the summer or early fall.
Yet another reason I’m posting this right now is because my good friend Christopher has been working on his own backyard rink, and — running into a bit of difficulty with that — he just wrote me seeking some help.
Actually, I’m a bit embarrassed that I don’t have a quick answer to Christopher’s question, despite having long ago built a dozen or so rinks for my son and grandson. So, I’m thinking that this post might prove a great way for all of us to share ideas or experiences on this subject.
— Dennis Chighisola
Build a Backyard Hockey Rink
This project caused me to scurry through YouTube.com to see what others had done so far in this area. To be honest, almost all the various videos on backyard rinks are nearly the same, with most of them only varying in extras — like lights, high boards, doors in the boards, etc.
I finally settled on the following video, mainly because it’s a really basic set up, and because it gives a pretty good view of everything. So, please have a look before we go further on the subject. (Don’t panic that you don’t hear a soundtrack; there is none for this video.)
Having built a number of these, I can tell you that finding a truly level area is critical to preparing for a backyard rink. And, that’s part of the reason I suggest planning things earlier in the year, when the ground is still soft and workable. Truly, spending some time in the warm weather leveling the planned area for your rink might be the best thing you ever do.
I also suggest erecting the boards section of the rink while the ground is still relatively soft, so that some stakes can be driven into the ground to hold the boards in place.
I highly recommend thinking about disassembling the rink as you plan its assembly. I mean, large screws and metal brackets can make things a whole lot easier to take the boards apart at season’s end, rather than using large nails or spikes.
I might also offer the idea of buying the plastic liner beforehand, just so that you can design the rink’s measurements accordingly. (There’s nothing worse than discovering you have to piece together several sections of plastic in order to get coverage, knowing full well that there’s a strong chance the thing is going to leak with each thaw.)
As an aside here, you know I’m all about teaching, or development. So, let me share a philosophy I’ve held for a good many years…
The kind of discipline I provide in my clinics and practices is essential to players acquiring all the skills and smarts necessary to play at a high level. Hey, there are proper ways to move on the ice, puckhandle, pass, receive, shoot, check, deal with critical situations, what have you.
Beyond that, however, I’ve always said that the mark of a “real player” is based on what he or she does in his or her spare time. In other words, gain discipline from proper instruction, but then go freelance as much as possible to truly separate yourself from the pack.
In-lines can help us do that during the warm months, as can dryland training and even floorball. However, I think the backyard rink is an awesome place for a youngster to really experiment — or hotdog a bit — during the hockey season.
Okay, from here onward, let’s consider this YOUR post, or a place where anyone can share ideas, ask questions, etc. I’m even going to leave this available to the public, just so we can gain even more input.
Christopher will actually kick things off, since I’ll post his current problem first. Hopefully, we can find some help for him and many future rink builders to follow.
The singer of this song actually stopped by here to suggest that I share his video with other backyard rink enthusiasts. So, enjoy (and, thanks, Geoff)…