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Organizing a Drop In Skate

Call the rink to schedule your time, then start calling all the players you know to come skate.

Simple as that right?

It could be, but too many things change. For the skaters, it is just a night out, no big deal if they don’t show. For you, you have committed to paying the rink! Hard to split an hour of ice between 10 guys!

I’ve seen it handled a bunch of different ways.

The Wishful Method

Some guys will stand in the lobby and wait for enough guys to show up for their skate. If not enough, they cancel. Not good for the players who came out to skate, not good for the rink!

The Excel Spreadsheet

I talked to one old timer who took over from another old timer. He got an members list in an Excel spread sheet with the privilege of taking over the skate. Skaters committed to the full season of skating and would either pay or find a sub to cover for them. The spread sheet was full of red balances due from skaters who no showed and no payed.

Great Notes and Hard Work!

Great note taking skills can help. Have your text list of skaters. Make notes on who can skate. Don’t have enough yet, send out more texts for guys to bring friends. Take more notes. Way too much work and you still don’t have control over how many are on the bench.

I didn’t like any of these ways to organize a skate.

What is the ideal skate?

To solve a problem, let’s look first at what we want to achieve.

We want enough players to pay for the ice.

Ok, well, what is enough and what is ideal?

Two lines is always nice. Lots of ice time for everyone. Generally, goalies do not pay, so you have 20 skaters to cover the ice bill. Ice time cost varies from rink to rink. But let’s figure $250 per hour or $375 for an hour and a half. That works out to $18.75 each for 20 skaters.

Well, if your one of the skaters, as I suspect, then you are doing all the work, taking the risk and paying $18.75 to skate. Not an ideal plan in my mind. Collect $20 each and you have $380 to pay the rink. So, there is your break even point.

How many skaters can we add to make this work?

If we were to add just two guys to each bench, that is four skaters. Eighty dollars to your bottom line. You can buy a case of beer for the locker rooms and be a hero, and still have some money left over.

24 skaters is the magic number that our group has found. You can pick your own number, but any more on the bench causes friction. Less, and you risk paying.

So, our goal now is to have 24 skaters show up and pay each week.

This is a sales problem. To sell 24, how many do you have to invite?

I’d set your first goal to 48 skaters on your list. Once you get the hang of it, you will be adding people to your list quickly and growth will be your management problem!

You Have To Ask

To build a list of 48 skaters might sound challenging, but if you skate in a league, you have access to more than that if you mingle.

Although I’m a technology guy, I do like many old school methods.

Hand out a business card!

Here is the card that I handed out to build my initial list of 80 skaters in just a few months.

Pretty simple.

Visit Gears.Beer

Now I did have to explain that it is www.Gears.Beer it turns out. .Beer is a new domain extension. But this was my hockey website. A sign up form on the site would capture their name, phone and email.  We are on our way to creating a list!

Keep the cards in your hockey bag. Hand them out often and give guys extras that can invite more skaters. You need to start collecting goalies too! You know you need two each week, so you better have access to 8 or more! Goalies are critical.

Don’t have a website? It is easy to set one up and put a web form on it. I’d recommend having your own site as your home for hockey.

Quality of Your List

As you are collecting contact info for goalies and skaters, you have to filter out the assholes. You know they are out there. Don’t put them on your list, it just isn’t worth the hassle. Focus on the age group and skill level of yourself and your friends. Part of your job in running a successful skate is to keep parity. You have to step in and change up the teams if the skate is too far out of balance. Then the skate can be upset by a guy taking 10 minute shifts, or a guy hacking and hitting guys.

You need to administer who is on your list. This is your skate. You have to be prepared to un-invite a skater that isn’t a good fit.



Stay in communication with your skaters list. Email them once a week to update them on any special events you might plan, changes at the rink, or share feedback about the skate. Regular communication is appreciated and it builds trust and a sense of community.


The Rules of The Skate

Consistency is important and you have to take the lead. There are rules for you to follow and rules for the skaters. This might be a revelation to you, but people love structure. Just as you raise a child or train a dog, you have to provide clearly defined rules, and stick with them. Same goes for hockey players, no matter how wild you think they are.

You have rules too! Here are your rules to follow:

  1. Always have two goalies!
  2. Bring water bottles – with water – to every skate.
  3. Bring pucks for the warm up.
  4. Have a greeter at the rink to police your list and collect money
  5. Get the locker room keys – be responsible and bring them back when done.
  6. Order the beer if the rink provides and you promised
  7. Have spare jerseys to even up sides on ice


Keep them simple still.

The Simple Skater Rules:

  1. Slapshots allowed, just don’t try to hurt anyone.
  2. No checking, unless you owe a friend.
  3. No ice hogs, fast changes – or you will be uninvited.
  4. Have fun and grab dinner and a beer after!

There is one other rule that will interest you. Say you’re coming and no show, you still owe for the ice time!

Yep, my skaters help me enforce that rule!

Here is the reality. If you’re doing your job right, you will be turning away skaters each week. Those guys that don’t get a spot would have gladly paid for that spot. It has value. Somebody no shows, now a bench is lighter than the other and someone who wanted to skate with his buddies, couldn’t. How does that make the guy who “no showed” look?

On the ice, you should be proactive and count dark and light jerseys. I ask guys with yellow or grey jerseys change. You’ll only have to have them do it once, they will find another jersey. Nothing worse than making great passes, to the wrong guy, all night.

Even up the sides by color and skill level. Don’t know all the guys? Have other experienced skaters help you sort it out. Sometimes you get lucky and have a guy that takes pride in working that out for you.

From there, you should just enjoy the skate! Pay attention to how the players get along so you can weed out any problems. The better your list and organization, you can fine tune to have a great skate!


Ask, ask, ask. Hand out cards. Build your list!

Lock down your number and enforce it.

Manage your skaters on ice and have fun!


In under a year, I’ve built an email list of over 200 skaters in my area and expect to be managing over 10 hours of ice time each week at my local rink.

If I can do this, then you can too! It takes some work, but the rewards are worth the effort. Let me know if you have questions about how I organize my lists and get guys involved.

See you on the ice!

Dave Crabill

P.S. This info has been emailed to you also. More details will be emailed over, check your email you used on Gears.Beer.