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January 06, 2019

Learn to play hockey: Its never too late

I can still remember the day I decided I was going to play hockey. I was sitting at the rink almost a decade ago, watching my oldest daughter play Novice hockey. My pre-schooler turns to me and says “Mom you’re the only one in our family that doesn’t play hockey. Why not?”

Many thoughts ran through my head. I can’t skate. I can’t stop. When will I find the time? Where would I play? I looked down at my daughter. This was a teaching moment. I flashed back to the day my oldest daughter stepped on the ice for the very first time. She couldn’t skate at all. She fell almost the entire game. I held my breath bracing for her to come running into my arms crying from embarrassment. Instead, she stepped off the ice, beaming and simply stated: “that was awesome”.  I decided that moment, at 38 years old, that I would play hockey.

As a daughter of immigrant parents, I didn’t have the same connection to Saturday night hockey. My love of hockey started on the bench watching my daughters push through wobbly ankles to become the passionate players they are. I knew very little about the game. I didn’t know how to hold my stick. I only learned 3 years into playing that I was wearing my elbow pads up-side-down. Thinking about playing hockey for the first time? Here are some insights and tips that I found helpful:

Why try it?

It’s terrific exercise and a great sweat.  

Everything else falls away for that 50 minutes while you're on the ice, making it a great escape from daily stresses.

As adults, we tend to gravitate away from team sports towards individual sports. The joy of being a part of a team again was an unexpected benefit for me.

Competition generates adrenaline that gives you a natural high all day long.

The sheer thrill of victory and playing just for fun.

Build core stability, hand-eye coordination, muscle strength and heart health…without even realizing it.



Mental benefits

Professor T.A  Loeffler, of Human Kinetics at Memorial University interviewed female recreational players between 38 and 56 who grew up being told it was a boy’s game found “that playing has had a profound effect on them. Women see themselves in new ways through the game.”  They experience the feeling of being part of a team and connecting with their family through a Canadian played and loved sport.  More importantly, body issues don't make their way onto the rink as different body types can be good at the game.1 

But I can’t skate?

Are you a non-skater? No problem. There are all kinds of learn-to-skate clinics across Canada.  While it helps to have some basic skating skills it’s not a prerequisite. Learn-to-play hockey clinics typically offer power skating skills training in their starter sessions that help you get familiar with your edges and stick handling.  So, all you really need is some courage to get on the ice and some hockey equipment.  Don’t worry about falling – your equipment gives you a soft place to land.  



Find a learn to play program

Looking for a women’s learn to play program in your area? Check out CARHA Hockey and their amazing resources. CARHA hockey celebrates women’s hockey and provides a wealth of information on tournaments, leagues, camps, clinics and drop-in games for women to participate in across Canada. Their hockey finder tool will help you locate leagues, tournaments, and programs. 

How to put on hockey equipment

Everyone has their own way of getting ready for their game. For those of us who find ourselves in a hockey dressing room for the first time, here is a list of equipment and some quick tips on how to get dressed:

Long Sleeve shirt and pant underlayer. This is completely optional. The base layer absorbs some of your sweat, helping mitigate bacteria build up and that offensive ‘hockey smell’ in your hockey equipment. I prefer the feel of an underlayer between me and my equipment but many women simply wear their underwear and a sports bra.

Sports socks. Choose a light pair of sports socks that feel comfortable in your skates.

Hockey Jill short with pelvic protector. Protects your vital parts and holds up your hockey socks with Velcro. Slip this over your underlayer.

Shin guard. Slip these over your shins, Velcro over the back of your calves. Note that there is an L (left) and R (right) marked at the bottom of each shin guard.

Hockey socks. Pull these over your shin pads. Attach them to your Jill using the Velcro. Some players wrap their hockey socks with clear hockey tape to help keep them up. 

Hockey skates. This is straightforward. One foot. Next foot. Tighten and tie the laces.  

Shoulder pads. Slip this over your head. Make sure Velcro is securely attached front to back and around your biceps.

Elbow pads. Look for the L (left) and R (right) meant to identify which elbow the pad is for. Next, look for the wrist slash guards and keep them pointed towards your wrists. Slide the pad onto your arm and slide your elbow into the elbow cups. Secure pads with the Velcro. Elbow pads should extend up to meet the shoulder pads so there is no gap between the two.

Neck guard.  Mandatory for many leagues. Simply attach using the Velcro.

Helmet with cage. Slip over your head. Some players wear a skull cap under their helmet to keep their hair out of their eyes and sweat off their face.  

Mouthguard. Many players will wear a mouth guard to protect their teeth and protect against concussions in case of a collision or fall.

Check out this video for more ‘putting on equipment’ tips.

Get familiar with hockey equipment by browsing through retail resources like this one from Play It Again Sports.



Give it a try

The first documented female hockey game took place in Canada in 1892.  Hockey is part of our history and Canadians have helped it grow across the world.  Now over 85,000 women are playing hockey in Canada.  What are you waiting for?  Be part of this growing sport.  




Find CARHA in our Athlete Advisor, your online athletic business directory. Explore, rate and review hockey clinics, associations, and businesses that help you do your thing.

Find other hockey players, teams or weekly shinney at our SWSCD Hub.

Look for advice, stories news and more on our Hockey activity page. 

Do you have a passion for hockey? Are you a first-time hockey player? Share hockey moments on our Discover blog or by using #seewhatshecando on social media and inspire others to get active. 

Source: 1http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/fitness/get-in-shape-with-womens-hockey/

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