Here in the Northern Hemisphere, winter sports like skiing and ice hockey are just as beloved as field sports. But not everyone is eager to switch out the cleats for snowshoes come fall. Good news: there are plenty of awesome summer sports you probably didn’t know you could play in the winter!
1. Beach Volleyball
Who says you need a beach to play beach volleyball? Although the game may have originated as a summer pastime, it has evolved into a sanctioned Olympic sport practiced by serious athletes.
There are now indoor beach volleyball facilities (sand and all) built for year-round play. Sports domes like the Volleydome in Calgary boast courts for traditional indoor volleyball and the two-on-two beach game.
Of course, the game changes quite a bit when the green turns to white, and not necessarily for the better. The ball skips and glides across the snowy pitch with ease but is much harder to keep in control. The low-friction playing surface also puts players at risk of injury.
Playing soccer outdoors in the cold isn’t ideal unless the season runs long or winter comes early. Fortunately, there’s an alternative: the soccer dome.
Just be sure to dress for the weather with a moisture-wicking base layer and lots of insulating layers on top.
Believe it or not, there are lots of ways to experience the joys of cycling in the winter.
If you’re brave enough to venture outdoors, it’s possible to outfit your regular commuter bicycle to tackle the slippery roads ahead. However, it does require some extra maintenance; MEC recommends that you wipe down the chain after every ride, apply lube to the chain at least three times a month, and spray aerosol lube on all the moving parts once another.
For cyclists who prefer to stay warm, there’s track cycling, a lesser-known Olympic event that provides an incredible workout and a great show for spectators. Thanks to air-supported structures like the Team USA Velodrome, you can pick up this sport at any time of year.
5. Ultimate Frisbee
It might not have made the Olympics yet, but Ultimate Frisbee has been soaring in popularity ever since its inception in the 1960s. It’s become a favourite of college students and rec leagues around North America.
Trouble is, it’s not easy to catch and throw a plastic disc with mittens on.
Soccer is one of the most popular sports in Canada. With benefits such as increased aerobic capacity, muscle tone, flexibility and endurance, it’s a great sport for children and adults alike.
Because year-round leagues are becoming popular, more and more teams are training in subzero temperatures. However, there are risks involved with playing soccer in cold weather, so it’s important to keep players safe, warm and comfortable.
The influence of cold weather can have a substantial impact on overall health and safety during practices and games.
However, with proper precautions, players can avoid succumbing to cold-weather illness or injury.
If the field is not covered by a soccer dome, wind chill is an important factor to consider.
The wind chill temperature is how cold it feels outdoors. Wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin cause by wind and cold. Thus, the wind makes it feel much colder and poses a more serious risk to playing outdoors.
A gust of wind can be enough to infiltrate your clothing and remove the insulating layer of warmth that surrounds your body. The risk of frostbite increases as wind chill falls. It only takes up to 30 minutes to be exposed to frost bite if the wind chill drops below -7 degrees Celsius.
Dressing for Cold Temperatures
When outdoor temperatures drop, the body loses heat more rapidly than usual. It’s important to dress appropriately when playing in cold weather. Layering clothing can be effective, as long as layers are removed to avoid overheating. Dress so that you start off warm and remove articles of clothing as needed.
Start with a base layer made of polypropylene. It’s vital to avoid sweating before playing outdoors since your body will cool quickly. Polypropylene is a moisture-wicking fabric that does not absorb sweat.
Next, cover your first layer with a good insulating fabric such as microfleece or thermal. A mock turtleneck is a great option as well.
The outer layer should protect your extremities.
Ensure that feet, head, ears, hands, eyes and skin are protected before braving the elements. Wear additional clothing such as hats, headbands, gloves, sweatshirts and sweatpants.
It’s also a good idea to pack sunglasses and apply sunscreen before heading out.
Chances are, you’ve seen sports domes for soccer and tennis. Maybe you’ve even heard of a Volleydome. But could you imagine a dome housing a 42-foot tall obstacle tower? How about an Olympic-sized velodrome?
Most domes we create are destined for field sports. But beyond that, the potential uses for air dome are practically endless. Air-supported structures can come in a wide variety of different shapes, sizes and colours, and we’re constantly pushing the boundaries of what air domes can do.
These are some of the creative uses for air domes we’ve helped build over the years (plus, one particularly unique dome we spotted on the far side of the world.)
1. Team USA’s Velodrome Dome
The year was 1983. America needed a cycling venue for the upcoming 1984 Summer Olympic Games. They answered the call with a sprawling, 35-acre facility that would later become an official Team USA Olympic Training Centre.
Today, the campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado is the training grounds for hundreds of Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Among its facilities is a full-size, 333.3-metre banked cycling track for velodrome events. Within that loop is a second, 200-metre roller sports track.
Colorado Springs gets plenty of precipitation from fall to spring, which restricted cycling and roller sports to the summer — until recently. In 2015, the Training Centre added a massive air-supported structure to protect the grounds from rain and snow.
2. Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports
Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports (BJES) operates some of the leading sports training centres across the USA. Athletes who are lucky enough to visit their Columbus, Ohio location will find a huge air dome packed with 114,000 square feet of unique training spaces.
Among the array of playfields and sports equipment is an impressive, 42-foot tall climbing tower BJES calls The Gauntlet. The Gauntlet is a competitive, vertical obstacle course that puts athletes’ physical and mental endurance to the test. It includes a speed climb, ten auto-belays, a fire pole, chimney climbs, cargo nets, and a face-to-face challenge course.
When people think air domes, they tend to picture a soccer dome with vast, clear spans and empty vertical space. BJES, on the other hand, has packed every inch of their dome with awesome athletic challenges. As obstacle course-style events continue to grow in popularity, we expect to see more uses for air domes like this one.
3. Russel Township’s Community Air Dome
Russel, Ontario is a modest place. With a population of just over 16,500, the township doesn’t have the same resources as nearby giants like Ottawa and Gatineau. But they’re a great demonstration of how a single air-supported structure can serve many parts of a community at once.
Russell’s air dome is a multi-use facility. The dome itself houses a track, sports turf, and a gym complete with cardio equipment, weights, and strength machines. The lobby building has a restaurant and conference room.
Residents of all ages use the space to meet, play, and stay physically active. Soon, Russell will be adding a second dome with tennis and pickleball courts (a nod to Canada’s fastest-growing sport).
4. Edmonton Roller Hockey Dome
You don’t have to have seen a game of roller hockey to imagine what it’s like. The game borrows many of the same rules and equipment from ice hockey, including an NHL-size rink with concrete instead of ice.
The Edmonton Sportsdome is home to two such rinks beneath a 60,000 square foot structure. Many roller rinks double as ice-skating rinks in the winter, but the air-supported ceiling allows these rinks to stay safe and dry year-round.
Plus, it has room for all the amenities of a full-size community hockey arena: dressing rooms, referee rooms, a small medical room, and even a restaurant and lounge.
Tennis as a winter sport? It’s possible. With the right gear and a fiery spirit, you can continue to sharpen your tennis skills throughout the winter months! Here are some practical tips for playing tennis in cold weather, with or without an air-supported dome.
It takes a bit longer to loosen up in low temperatures. Give your body a chance to warm up with a 10-minute stretching routine before you begin playing. Your muscles will thank you the next day!
2. Stay Hydrated
Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you can cut back your water intake. You won’t feel as thirsty playing in the winter, but your body still needs water to stay strong, fast and healthy. Drink plenty of water before you go outside and bring a bottle of water with you. If freezing is a problem, use a wide-mouthed bottle and store it upside-down.
3. Wear Shades
Sunglasses are a touchy topic in the world of tennis, but one thing is clear: the winter sun hangs lower in the sky, and the snow makes its glare even worse. If you have a personal rule against wearing sunglasses, you might make an exception for winter tennis.
4. Switch to Softer Strings
The lower the temperature, the stiffer racquet strings become. High-tension stings are prone to break in the cold. Softer string compositions, like multifilament or natural gut, perform better in the winter.
5. Adjust Your Play Style
Frigid weather has an interesting effect on tennis balls. The rubber hardens, and the air pressure inside the ball drops. The result? The ball feels softer in hand, but much harder on impact – which makes for a very different kind of tennis.
Since the ball has far less bounce, and the racquets are less elastic, you must aim deeper and hit harder to get the ball over the net. Topspins lose their edge; drop shots, slices, and flat serves are deadly. Winter tennis demands even more movement than summer tennis, with players travelling deeper in the court to catch the low ball.
It’s practically a whole new game!
6. Protect Yourself
Are you brave enough to venture out in freezing weather? Your dedication to the sport is admirable. But without proper preparation, exercising in sub-zero temperatures can be hazardous to your health. Any exposed skin can be at risk of freezing, which leads to frostbite, and wearing sweat-soaked clothing can increase the risk of hypothermia.
Proper winter tennis attire consists of a lightweight, moisture-wicking base beneath layers of insulating fabrics. Be sure that the outer layer or water-repellent. Gloves are important, even if they hinder your grip. Finally, don’t forget to wear a hat — you lose about 50% of body heat from your head.
Too Cold for Tennis? Use an Air-Supported Dome
Snow and ice add a cool twist to tennis, but cold-weather tennis is not for everyone. That’s why sports domes were invented! An air-supported dome structure provides shelter from the snow and a comfortable playing temperature all throughout the winter. We have the pictures to prove it!
Like all athletes, tennis players benefit from a balanced, full-body workout. Whether you’re playing outdoors in the summer or under a dome in the winter, the following are great all-season exercises for tennis players of all skill levels.
1. Bench Press
The bench press is a powerful compound movement that engages the chest, triceps and shoulders: all key ingredients of a killer tennis serve. Few exercises build upper body strength as effectively as a properly-performed bench press.
Beginners should master the movement with lightweight dumbbells before progressing to heavier weights.
Sometimes, you've got to leap to counter a powerful slam. Box jumps are a fun, low-impact exercise that helps tennis players prepare for the explosive jumping and diving movements. It also improves your ability to absorb the shock of touching back down, which is essential for avoiding foot and leg injuries.
The rotator cuff is the four muscles and tendons that enable your arm to roll fluidly in its shoulder socket. Serious tennis players push those muscles to their limit. When the muscles are strained or torn, it can become painful or even impossible to continue playing.
The best way to prevent rotator cuff injuries in tennis is to strengthen those four key muscles. Internal and external dumbbell rotations are a great exercise to do this. They in a standing or lying position, and you don’t have to use heavy weights to benefit.
Medicine ball slams are an effective, full-body movement with emphasis on the abdominal muscles. The force you use to slam the ball translates into better core strength and more powerful swings on the court.
Medicine ball slams also require minimal skill in weight training to perform and pose little to no risk of injury, even in when you’re fatigued.
No soccer field? No problem. You don’t have to stop training just because the pitch is closed. These soccer drills can be practiced almost anywhere: in a gymnasium, garage, backyard, park, or air-supported structure.
1. Wall Ball
What You Need:
Solid wall or tall fence
Wall ball is one of the simplest solo soccer drills. All you need to do is stand a few feet from the wall and kick the ball towards it, using the return to train passing, kicking, or receiving skills. Stand closer to the wall to practice receiving and further away to practice kicks. For precision, aim your shots towards a marker on the wall.
Two or more players can run the drill at once by taking turns kicking the ball. You can give the drill a competitive edge by applying squash rules and keeping score.
Avoid using a wall with gaps or windows — that’s just asking for trouble. A solid fence can work in place of a wall, but a chain-link fence can damage the ball.
2. Triangle Drill
What You Need:
3 pylons or other markers
At least 10’ x 10’ of space
One of the earliest drills new players learn is the triangle drill, which develops skill in dribbling and moving the ball in close quarters. All you need to do is form a triangle with three pylons about five feet apart, then dribble the ball between them.
There are many variations on this easy soccer drill, including the V-pattern.
3. Mirror Drill
What You Need:
2-3 pylons or other markers
At least 12’ x 12’ of space
Mirror drills are applicable to a variety team sports, including soccer, American football, and rugby. This high-intensity exercise helps players refine reflexes and develop explosive lateral moves.
Two players stand face-to-face between two pylons (often with a third pylon marking the middle). When the drill begins, the leading player tries to reach one of the pylons alone; the other player’s goal is to reach one at the same moment by mirroring the leading player’s movements.
The leader feints from left to right, attempting to outrun their doppelganger, while the mirror player reacts as quickly as they can. Both players train their lateral movement and get an intense cardio workout.
4. Box Drill
What You Need:
4 pylons or other markers
At least 12’ x 12’ of space
Lacking a wall, ball, and players to train with? You can still practice multi-directional movement.
Place four pylons five to ten feet apart to form a square. Stand at one pylon and sprint forward to the next; shuffle sideways to the third; backpedal to pylon number four; and finally shuffle back to the starting pylon. Repeat.
The box drill is a way to improve your speed in all directions when there’s not enough space or players for a practice game in a field or air-supported structure. Keeping hips low helps to strengthen the core and upper glutes at the same time.
While not as intense as other soccer drills, these basic movements help to develop and reinforce muscle memory that gives players an edge in tight situations. Taps and rolls are also a great warm-up to the other drills on this list.
Soccer is an incredibly demanding sport which requires players to be in tip-top shape for optimal performance. Great soccer players do more than just train by playing one game, though. Other sports can help soccer players become better by helping to focus their skill development.
Because soccer demands so much and is so multi-faceted, narrowing down the skills you want to develop and then finding other sports or activities that hone them can really improve your performance on the soccer field!
Here are a few sports that soccer players should try out.
We talked about how much tennis players can get out of playing soccer in this article, but it also works in the opposite direction.
Soccer players can practice changing directions quickly and anticipating the movement of the ball. No, you’re not using your feet to move the ball across the court, but the sport can still improve your ability to track the ball and anticipate trajectories.
Also, reading your opponent is a big part of tennis. In soccer, you only really get to do that in a penalty kick situation. Staring down your opponent and anticipating their reaction is something you do all the time in tennis.
Basketball is one of the largest North American sports, so much so that it’s unlikely that you’ll see a school gym or park without a basketball court. But while the sport may look very different from soccer, some shared principles could, with practice, really improve your soccer skills.
A large part of basketball is simply moving the ball down the court. This requires fancy footwork, slick moves, and most importantly, passing. Even though you pass with your hands and not your feet, it’s the same idea. You want to look for your opening, react to it quickly, and outsmart your opponent—just like playing soccer.
Volleyball is a fast-paced game with a much smaller play area than soccer, but it can still work on key parts of your soccer game.
Much of volleyball is spent in the air, jumping up as high as possible to block or reach high-flying balls. Jumping and diving for the ball can help you drill down on your vertical game if you find yourself being beaten out at the net reaching for those corner kicks.
And playing beach volleyball is great for the legs—the sand is perfect for resistance training!
Swimming might not directly help with your soccer skills, but it is an excellent activity for developing strength and endurance.
The resistance provided by the water can work your muscles to the limit faster and more effectively than on land. Swimming will improve your overall strength to help add power to your kicks, speed to your sprints, and stamina to those long run-downs.
If none of the sports above is your cup of tea, any sport you choose could have some component that is useful for soccer. It’s just such a physically demanding sport that whatever skill you decide to focus on can make a significant impact on your level of play.
The takeaway is not to pigeon-hole yourself to only playing one sport. Being well-rounded is important in sports as well as life!
If you’re looking to boost your tennis game, it might be worth looking at another sport played in a dome: soccer! Tennis and soccer might seem like two completely different sports, but like many sports, playing soccer builds transferrable skills that could push your tennis skills to the next level.
It’s long been known that multidisciplinary athletes tend to do well in any sport they try. Just look at an athlete like Bo Jackson (who you can learn more about in this blog and this one, where we talk about him and his Elite Sports Dome projects) that not only played at the top level of both football and baseball, but was actually named an all-star in both sports.
So how can soccer help your tennis game? Here are just a few ways:
Improves Your Footwork
It’s no surprise that soccer requires heavy use of your feet, but the fancy foot skills you learn on the soccer pitch could translate quickly to the court.
Soccer requires you to change directions quickly while running, make unique foot movements to control and kick the ball, and power up and power down leg muscles as they’re needed. All these skills and exercises can help on the court to get to the ball quickly, change directions on a whim, and quickly improvise with fast feet on-the-fly.
Boosts Your Fitness and Cardio
For most players on the soccer field, you’re in constant movement. It’s estimated that at the pro-level, a midfielder might run 7 miles in a game. Now the amount of running you do in tennis is very much decided by your play style, but if you’re looking to get a more high-energy style going, soccer could help to increase your stamina.
Many players don’t even realize the amount of running they do because of the quick pace of soccer. Being a timed sport with no stopping of the clock, the game is go-go-go, and you won’t realize how much training you just squeezed in until the game has ended. Or maybe not even until the next day when you realize how sore your legs are…
Helps Learning to Anticipate
Most sports, especially at the top level, require just as much strategy as skill. Soccer might look like a bunch of runners chasing a ball, but the strategy of soccer is much deeper. Running around the pitch is a sure way to burn yourself out quickly, so a good soccer player needs to be able to look where the ball is going, analyze other players and teammates, and react quickly to any situation.
With the possible exception of having a teammate (unless playing doubles), all these skills are invaluable when you have a racket in your hands.
Being able to think five steps ahead of your opponent will help you keep your cool, better conserve your energy, and make your explosive attacks all the more effective.
So if you’re looking for another sport to play that will help you to improve your tennis skills, look no further than soccer. And if you happen to play tennis in a multisport air supported structure, you might not need to travel any further than your dome to jump into a game.
Soccer, more commonly known the world over as football, is one the most popular sports in Canada. There are over 1 million people involved in the game up north, with over 820,000 registered players.
But to date, Canada’s Men’s National Soccer team has only ever qualified for one World Cup. That was 32 years ago back in 1986.
So, why hasn’t Canada’s team seen more international success?
One reason is this: most countries have their own domestic soccer league. England has the Premier League; Germany, the Bundesliga. Spain has La Liga, Netherlands the Eredivisie, Mexico Liga MX. You get the idea.
Canada has three teams competing in Major League Soccer, but since MLS is America’s own domestic league, it can be difficult for aspiring Canadian players to get ample 1st team playing time.
That is part of what makes the forthcoming Canadian Premier League so exciting for Canadian soccer fans.
Introducing the Canadian Premier League (CPL)
The Canadian Premier League (also referred to as the CPL or CanPL) was approved and announced on May 6, 2017. The CPL is Canada’s very own national domestic soccer league, and Canada’s only professional coast-to-coast league.
Paul Beirne will be the President of the CPL. Mr. Beirne previously worked with Toronto FC, where he was heralded for his fan engagement. He was also head of commercial development for the English Premier League team Brighton Hove and Albion.
So far, Hamilton and Winnipeg are confirmed franchises. Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Moncton, Victoria, Quebec City, Mississauga, Fraser Valley, Kitchener-Waterloo, and York Region (Toronto) have been mentioned as possible locations for inaugural or future CPL clubs. The league expects to field 8-10 franchises by opening day.
One of his goals for the league is to help develop a professional soccer industry in Canada.
To help achieve that goal, the formation of Canadian Soccer Business (CSB) was also recently announced. CSB is a sports entity representing commercial assets for the Canadian Premier League and the Canadian Soccer Association.
The Hamilton Ticats executive calls the CSB a linchpin to legitimizing what the CPL is trying to do: develop a Canadian game that’s nowhere near reaching its ceiling.
This could produce an explosion of investor funding not just for the upstart league, but Canada’s national teams, both of which have room to grow into global entities.
With the CPL, more Canadians will have a clearer path to playing professionally. It will also cultivate a new generation of officials, coaches, referees and business for Canadian soccer.
Excitement for the CPL
The formation of the CPL is truly a grassroots effort that involved a lot of people in the Canadian soccer landscape. To get an idea of what it means to some soccer supporters in Canada, watch this video.
Supporters groups are already popping up across Canada in anticipation of the launch.
Stadiums for teams in the league will be a mixture of new builds and existing CFL venues. Hamilton, for example, will play at Tim Hortons Field, the home of the Tiger-Cats.
Getting excited about the CPL? Check out their newly redesigned website where fans can learn about details of the league, its teams, matches, and ticket information as they are announced. The CPL also just revealed their new league identity with a great new logo.
Ever wonder what holds a dome down to the ground? It’s a common question, and one that people often ask once they see the massive size of domes. A large soccer or multi-sport dome can be hundreds of feet long and several storeys high, so the force of the wind as well as the upwards force of the air inside is considerable.
The last thing anyone wants is to lose their dome, so it’s important to make sure a dome is securely fastened to the ground.
The Concrete Grade Beam
Like any large structure, a dome needs a firm foundation that is engineered to withstand the stressors acting on it and built to ensure what’s built (or attached to it) will stand securely. In the case of an air structure, this foundation is made up of a concrete grade beam.
Before a dome goes up, a concrete grade beam needs to be poured around the circumference of the entire dome site. Concrete gives the strength and stability to make sure that nothing will move once the dome is in place.
The process is quite like the pouring of a foundation for many other types of construction. The only difference is that the foundation is only required around the perimeter of the dome. Farley recommends that experienced foundation builders pour the grade beam foundation. We can provide the dimensions and specifics, but nobody knows concrete and foundations better than those who specialize in the field.
The Aluminum Profile
The next important component of a dome’s foundation is the aluminum profile. This is what attaches the dome fabric to the concrete grade beam.
During the construction of the foundation, an aluminium profile is installed directly to the grade beam before the concrete hardens. This aluminum profile, once the concrete has set, will then serve as the anchoring point for the dome around the entire circumference.
When the dome is ready to go up, the fabric is spread out and attached to the grade beam via the aluminum profile. Once secured, the dome can be inflated and every point along the foundation is inspected. Once given the OK, everyone can rest assured that the dome won’t be going anywhere!
While domes are considered a temporary or semi-permanent structure, the foundation is permanent. Many domes are seasonal, going up in the fall and coming down in the spring. The grade beam foundation, however, stays there year-round. And having the foundation built properly and securely makes it much easier to install and remove a dome depending on the season. Dome foundations are built to last!
Are you curious just how strong the foundation needs to be? While the force of the wind can be considerable, it’s not the only thing trying to lift a dome off its foundation. Check out our blog on the upwards force of the warmed air inside of a dome!