How To Start Playing Hockey



Hockey, a fast-paced and exhilarating sport, captivates players and fans alike with its combination of skill, strategy, and teamwork. Whether you’re drawn to the grace of skating, the thrill of scoring goals, or the camaraderie of team play, embarking on your hockey journey begins with mastering the fundamentals, acquiring essential gear, and immersing yourself in the sport’s rich culture. This guide offers a step-by-step approach to starting your hockey adventure, from choosing equipment to joining a team and honing your skills on the ice.

Understanding the Basics


Hockey is a dynamic team sport played on ice, where players use sticks to maneuver a puck and score goals against the opposing team. The game is characterized by its speed, physicality, and strategic gameplay across three periods of regulation play.

Types of Hockey

Ice Hockey: Played on an ice rink, ice hockey involves skating, stickhandling, passing, and shooting skills. It is the most widely recognized form of hockey, played at various levels from recreational leagues to professional competitions.

Street Hockey: Played on pavement or other hard surfaces, street hockey adapts the rules and skills of ice hockey for non-ice environments. Players use inline skates or sneakers and typically use a ball instead of a puck.

Essential Gear and Equipment


Choosing the right skates is crucial for comfort, performance, and safety on the ice:

Types of Skates: Hockey skates come in various styles and price points, catering to different skill levels and preferences. Beginners often start with recreational or entry-level skates, featuring ankle support and blade stability.

Fitting and Comfort: Properly fitted skates provide ankle support, heel stability, and a snug yet comfortable fit. Visit a reputable hockey shop for professional fitting advice and try on multiple pairs to find the best fit for your feet.

Stick and Puck

Hockey Stick: Selecting the right stick involves considering factors such as stick length, flex, and blade curve. Beginners may opt for a mid-range stick that balances durability with performance, suited for learning basic stickhandling and shooting techniques.

Puck: Hockey pucks are made of rubber and designed for durability and ease of play on ice surfaces. Practice puck handling and shooting drills to improve puck control and accuracy.

Protective Gear

Helmet: A certified hockey helmet with a face mask or cage protects against head injuries and facial impacts. Ensure a snug fit and follow manufacturer guidelines for helmet safety and maintenance.

Shoulder Pads, Elbow Pads, and Gloves: Protective padding safeguards joints and upper body regions from collisions and falls on the ice. Choose lightweight yet durable padding that allows for freedom of movement and flexibility.

Hockey Pants and Shin Guards: Lower body protection includes padded pants and shin guards to cushion impacts and reduce the risk of injury during gameplay.

Additional Equipment

Jersey and Socks: Team jerseys and socks signify team unity and identity, often featuring team colors and logos. Choose breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics for comfort during intense gameplay.

Goalie Equipment: Goalkeepers require specialized gear, including leg pads, gloves, blockers, and a chest protector, designed for enhanced protection and performance in the goal crease.

Learning Basic Skills

Skating Techniques

Mastering fundamental skating techniques lays the foundation for effective movement and maneuverability on the ice:

Forward Skating: Practice gliding, stopping, and turning while maintaining balance and control. Utilize the hockey stance—bent knees, upright posture, and a low center of gravity—to enhance stability and agility.

Backward Skating: Develop backward skating skills for defensive play and positional awareness on the ice. Use crossover steps and backward c-cuts to navigate the rink with confidence and efficiency.

Stickhandling and Passing

Enhance stickhandling skills to maintain possession of the puck and execute precise passes:

Stick Grip and Control: Hold the stick with both hands, using a comfortable grip that allows for wrist flexibility and maneuverability. Practice dribbling the puck in front of you while maintaining control and spatial awareness.

Passing Drills: Practice passing techniques, including forehand and backhand passes, to distribute the puck to teammates accurately and efficiently. Develop passing accuracy and timing through repetitive drills and simulated game scenarios.

Shooting Techniques

Improve shooting accuracy and power through consistent practice and proper technique:

Shooting Stance: Position your body perpendicular to the target, with knees bent and weight balanced on the back foot. Grip the stick firmly and align the blade for optimal contact with the puck.

Types of Shots: Master basic shooting techniques, such as wrist shots, slap shots, and snap shots, to vary shooting angles and deceive goaltenders during gameplay. Focus on shot placement and follow-through to maximize scoring opportunities.

Joining a Team or League

Recreational Leagues

Local Programs: Research recreational hockey leagues and programs in your area, catering to various age groups and skill levels. Join introductory clinics or beginner leagues to build confidence and camaraderie with fellow players.

League Registration: Register for league membership, adhering to league guidelines, player eligibility requirements, and scheduling commitments. Consult with league officials or team managers for registration deadlines and participation details.

Youth and Adult Leagues

Youth Hockey: Enroll in youth hockey programs or developmental leagues tailored to young players’ skill development, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Participate in youth tournaments and seasonal competitions to showcase skills and foster a passion for the game.

Adult Hockey: Engage in adult recreational leagues or competitive divisions, offering structured gameplay, skill development clinics, and social networking opportunities for adult players of all experience levels.

Developing Game Strategy and Tactics


Positional Play

Understand the roles and responsibilities of different hockey positions to optimize team performance and strategic execution:

Forward Positions: Forwards focus on offensive play, scoring goals, and creating scoring opportunities through speed, agility, and puck-handling skills.

Defense Positions: Defensemen prioritize defensive play, protecting the goal, and initiating breakout passes to transition from defense to offense.

Goaltender Position: Goalkeepers defend the goal crease, block shots, and communicate with teammates to coordinate defensive strategies and counterattack opportunities.

Team Tactics and Systems

Offensive Strategies: Implement offensive tactics, such as cycling, screening, and setting up scoring chances in the opponent’s zone. Coordinate with linemates and anticipate plays to capitalize on scoring opportunities.

Defensive Strategies: Execute defensive maneuvers, including backchecking, shot blocking, and clearing rebounds from the defensive zone. Maintain defensive positioning and support teammates to neutralize opponent attacks.

Fitness and Conditioning

Off-Ice Training

Strength and Conditioning: Incorporate strength training exercises, cardiovascular workouts, and agility drills to enhance endurance, speed, and physical resilience on the ice.

Flexibility and Mobility: Stretching routines and yoga sessions improve flexibility, joint mobility, and muscle recovery, reducing the risk of injuries during intense gameplay and off-ice training sessions.

On-Ice Practice

Skill Development: Allocate practice time for skating drills, stickhandling exercises, and shooting techniques to refine skills, build confidence, and adapt to game-like scenarios.

Game Simulation: Participate in scrimmage sessions, intra-squad games, and simulated gameplay to apply tactical knowledge, improve decision-making skills, and foster team chemistry.

Sportsmanship and Team Spirit

Ethical Conduct

Embrace the values of sportsmanship, fair play, and respect for opponents, officials, and teammates:

Code of Conduct: Adhere to hockey codes of conduct, emphasizing integrity, discipline, and positive behavior on and off the ice. Promote inclusivity, diversity, and mutual respect within the hockey community.

Leadership and Mentorship: Support teammates, encourage skill development, and lead by example through dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to continuous improvement as a hockey player and team member.



Embarking on your hockey journey requires dedication, perseverance, and a passion for the sport’s exhilarating challenges and rewarding experiences. From selecting the right equipment and mastering fundamental skills to joining a team or league and embracing the values of sportsmanship and team spirit, your hockey adventure unfolds with each stride, pass, and goal on the ice. Whether you aspire to play competitively or enjoy recreational play with friends and family, hockey offers a vibrant community, lifelong friendships, and endless opportunities for personal growth and achievement.