Getting Started in Hockey


Hockey is a high intensity and thoroughly rewarding sport to play. For the beginner player there is much to consider before taking it up as a hobby. For most who have never played before, the cost initially can be significant, as there is a plethora of equipment that must be purchased before taking the ice. It is also a very physical and difficult sport to master.

As for equipment, your initial acquisitions should include the following items. I personally feel the single most important piece of equipment is a players skates. They are your connection to the ice. Once you are on the ice in game action, hockey store you will quickly see how important they are. Fit is the most important feature. More expensive skates will be lighter and fit better, but buy what is in your price range and feels good. As you advance in your playing career, you can upgrade to better, more feature rich skates.

The next gear to consider is your pads. There are shin guards, elbow pads, shoulder pads and hockey pants with the pads built into them. I have often seen people taking short cuts and skimping on pads. I would highly recommend against this. While the individual pads don’t need to cost a fortune, the protection they afford your exposed body parts is vital. One little tip to help these items last longer is to spray them with an antibacterial spray to keep bacteria and thus odor in check. You must also wear a jock strap and protective cup for obvious reasons. Gloves and helmet round out the protective gear that most players will wear. They too can be expensive, but protecting against head and hand injuries is a must in ice hockey. Most players will use a full face shield or cage to protect their face, but there is the option of also using a mouth guard.

Sticks are another must purchase. I personally always buy three sticks that are identical. Whether you purchase wooden or composite sticks, they will break. Especially for beginners, having a similar stick to switch to will help with the learning process. A good sized hockey bag will hold it all and you can purchase your favorite teams uniform jersey and socks.

Now you are ready to play. Having played for twenty-four years, it still amazes me how much energy is expended in a 90 second ‘shift’. The skill levels needed to skate and control the puck are also amazingly difficult to master. Utilizing a good off-ice training program is a good idea if getting fit is a priority. Being fit off the ice will provide stamina on the ice. Practice is also a must. In the years I have played, I took the greatest strides when the league I was in had extra sessions for beginning adult players to learn the game and get some extra ice time. No age is too old to take a lesson. After all, anything is more fun when you succeed and I can’t think of many things more exciting than scoring a goal in a real hockey game.

 


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