What is hockey?
Hockey is Canada's Game! It is recognized and valued for it's contribution to developing individuals and communities. As a result it has a huge fan base and public support
Today, hockey is played around the world in over thirty countries and is an Olympic sport. There are millions of players world-wide participating at various levels.
Why play hockey?
Not only is hockey the fastest game on earth, it's the "Coolest Game on ice." Hockey is an excellent way for any child to get involved in a great team sport, keep fit, build self-confidence, learn sportsmanship and most of all have fun. Those that take up hockey will grow up with the game and though the vast majority will not make it to the NHL, they will continue to play with friends and team mates for the love of the game.
What are the basics?
Hockey is a fast-paced sport in which two teams of six players compete to push a hard rubber puck into the opposing team's net. Players use sticks to move the puck across the ice and a goalie protects his team's net. Games are divided into three periods.
What ages can a child start hockey?
A child can learn to skate as early as two or three, but around four years of age they can begin to learn the fundamentals of hockey. As they grow up, children will move into different levels based on age and ability.
What about physical fitness?
A child involved in hockey will acquire and retain skills in areas of agility, balance and coordination. Generally, the fitness factor is high and players are almost always in constant motion, plus they wear protective equipment.
What equipment is required?
Most of the equipment is for safety, ie. Helmet, shoulder/torso pads, elbow pads, shin/knee pads, groin protector. Along with skates, players required padded shorts, socks, jerseys (both for games and practices) and a hockey stick. Lastly but by no means least, they will require a very large bag to transport the equipment around.
Importance of Fitting Properly
Properly fitting equipment is essential to the safety of all players, as well as maximizing mobility and player performance.
Your body can not function without your brain. Your hockey helmet is one of your most important pieces of equipment. To make sure that your hockey helmet is properly fit make sure the helmet is snug and comfortable. Adjust the chinstrap so that it gently makes contact under your chin when fastened. Obtain the correct head size, measure around your head with a flexible tape measure directly where a sweat band would rest.
Hockey Cages and Face Shields
The traditional cage face mask is strong and durable. It provides excellent ventilation and breathing with adequate vision. The face shield protects the face and provides excellent vision both straight ahead and peripherally. Hockey Canada requires all helmets and face shields to be CSA certified.
Mouth guards not only significantly reduce the incidence and severity of injuries to the teeth and mouth, but they may act as a shock absorber against more serious injuries like jaw fractures and concussions. Mouth guards are mandatory for all BMHA registered players.
Your shoulder pads are your first line of defense in the event of an impact. Properly fitted pads will provide protection for the collar bone, chest, ribs, back and upper arms. It is important that the shoulder pads achieve this protection while still allowing a full range of motion. For example, lifting the arms above the head should not push the shoulder pads uncomfortably high around the player's neck.
The neck guard is mandatory in all minor and female hockey. It must be BNQ certified Its intent is to protect against skate blades not impact from sticks or pucks. It should cover the entire throat area and fit snugly and comfortably.
Elbows are an extremely vulnerable part of your body that is why it is necessary to protect them. Like the shoulder pads your elbows should fit comfortably into the center of the elbow pad cup. A good elbow pad will provide forearm protection by extending down to the cuff of your hockey glove.
Not only do shin pads protect shins but they also help prevent knee injuries. The lower leg is an extremely high contact area which must be shielded against injuries caused by collisions with sticks, pucks and skates.
Gloves are another essential piece of equipment. They provide protection and help with stick control. One of the primary concerns with the fit of the hockey glove is to ensure that the gap between the glove and the elbow pad is minimal. The tightness of the glove is a personal preference and the tips of your fingers should not go completely to the ends of the glove. The glove should also feature a lock thumb system which will protect the thumb from being bent backwards.
Hockey Pants protect your lower back and your upper legs from hits, sticks and pucks. Pants should be loose and comfortable but have the ability to be secured firmly by the belt around the waist. Approximately 90% of all players will be able to use their waist size as their guide for choosing the correct size pants. The bottom of the pants should overlap the top of the shin pad kneecaps by 1-2 inches. This will ensure proper protection even when in a kneeling position.
A pair of hockey skates is also one of your most important pieces of equipment. Skates generally fit (1-1.5) sizes smaller than your shoe size. A good clean way to break in your new skates is to lace them up at home. You could also use a hair dryer to warm them, but be careful not to overheat any one area. You can wear your skates while you're doing your homework, reading or watching television. Just remember to have skate guards on!
Skates might be one of your most important pieces of equipment but your stick is your most important tool. The best way to measure your stick is to stand in your stocking feet, without your skates on a flat surface. Place the bottom of your stick on the ground between your feet. Lean the stick straight up-and-down so that the handle of the stick touches the tip of your nose. The general rule is to mark the stick at this point and cut the handle on your mark. A defenseman may want to use a longer stick to give them a longer reach for poking the puck away and a forward may want to use a shorter stick to help them stickhandle better.
Generally manufactured with a standard square shape these are generally the heaviest sticks. They have good value but have poor shaft consistency and may break easier.
Can be found in different shapes, weights and flexes. A composite stick should be purchased for improved shaft consistency, shot speed, shot accuracy and its lighter weight.
What about safety?
Hockey ensure players are outfitted with safety equipment while coaches and trainers undergo a series of certification programs to ensure the highest level of training as possible.
Hockey is a contact sport. "Contact" means that due to the fast-pace of the game, players will come in contact with one another in some form. Most levels of hockey above the age of twelve, permit "Checking" as a stategy. Checking is primarily played at the competitive level while most Recreational levels do not permit Checking.
Teamwork extends beyond the teams playing on the ice. Communication between Referees, Trainers and Coaches is vital to maintaining a safe environment.
Your investment to Play Hockey
Like all activities, hockey can be a commitment for you and your child. It is important that you understand what your financial and time investment will be.
Aside from equipment, annual fees can be the biggest investment for a parent. Speak with your local Association about what is included as part of your registration fees. Ask how much money is allocated towards items such as ice time, administration, officials, and travel. Your team also sets a budget for things like tournaments, buses, hotels, team apparel and fundraising. Talk about this at the first parent meeting to clearly understand how much money will be required this season.
Estimated Registration Fees for Minor Hockey
(includes ice time, officials, administration)
Recreational: $550.00 per season
Representative: $1500.00 per season
Time is another investment for parents and players. Recreational hockey can play as little as once a week while Representative hockey can require a greater time commitment. Balancing a busy work or school schedule with hockey practices and games can be a challenge. Prior to registering, consult your family members to ensure that your child(ren) will be able to commit to hockey while maintaining the school priorities.