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If you live in an area with long, cold winters, consider setting up a backyard ice rink as an alternative to paying for time on the ice at a public rink. With your own ice rink, your kids or you can have extra time to practice skating or hockey skills, at your own convenience.

The basic requirements for a rink are:

  • A large, flat outdoor area.
  • Nighttime temperatures under freezing for an extended period.
  • Daytime temperatures not far above freezing during this time.

A backyard ice rink kit creates a shallow (no more than a few inches deep), watertight pool that you fill with water (typically from a garden hose) that then freezes naturally in the cold air. The ice will get uneven with use, so you must spread more water on it periodically, to create a new, smooth surface.

A regulation-sized rink is 200 X 85 feet, or 17,000 square feet. It is unrealistic for all but a few people to set up and maintain anything close to that size in their yards. On the other hand, if your backyard rink is too small, it will be useless. How do you determine what size is appropriate?

  • First, consider how many people are likely to be on it simultaneously. The more people, the more space is needed.
  • Second, consider what activities will take place on it. A lone player practicing shots will need minimal space. Groups of people skating will need more space. Any sort of hockey game will require yet more, depending on the number of people on each side.
  • Third, consider how much ice surface you are prepared to maintain.

For a rule of thumb on size, consider that the distance from the blue line to the closest end boards on a standard rink is about 72 feet. At 85 feet wide, this zone of the ice

includes 6,120 square feet. If play is confined to that end of the ice, each of the 10 players skating around (counting both sides, but not the goalies) will cover 612 square feet on average. So, an average of 600 square feet per person would be acceptable. Half that, or 300 square feet per person, would be the bare minimum to consider..

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