The first thing to tell yourself before you play ice hockey is that it’s going to be expensive. Equipment doesn’t come cheaply and it’s even harder to find a club to join. Here’s five top tips you should consider when it comes to getting started.
1. Buy your own skates
Perhaps the most important rule of them all, buying your own skates is crucial to your development as a player. They are far more comfortable than the hire skates and soon cover the cost of themselves by avoiding skate hire fees if you practice regularly.
Most recreational players own a cheap pair of skates, don’t feel pressured into buying a pair that cost hundreds of pounds. A simple set around £60-£80 will more than do the job.
2. Learn to skate properly
There’s nothing worse than being terrified of falling and having no confidence in yourself on the ice. Even the best players struggle sometimes. Don’t be intimidated by the figure skaters twirling around or the youngsters who think that they can skate at 100mph, remember that everybody has to start somewhere.
The best way to improve your skating is to lace up your boots and get on the ice as often as you can. Find a local rink and ask them when the ice tends to be quiet so you can practice without the fear of crashing into a small child who is clinging on to the boards for dear life.
If you do fall over, dust yourself off and start again. It’s not easy but if you can skate to a competent level it will stand you in good stead for the future.
3. Get fit!
Ice hockey is one of the most physically demanding sports that you can play therefore it’s important that you are in the best possible shape that you can be. You don’t need to be as fit as Crosby or Ovechkin but try and add a little upper body strength and endurance as hockey can take its toll on your body.
Injuries are also common in hockey so if you get fit then you’ll have less chance of picking up a nasty injury. It’ll also give you that extra edge on the ice if you can play for long periods of time and will be of great benefit to your team so start hitting the gym or going out for a run if you don’t already do so.
4. Find a club before you buy your kit
This is another important piece of advice as you don’t want to buy all your kit only to find out that the local club can’t fit you into their team. Get in touch with the teams in your area and find out if they’ll let you train with them before making the large financial commitment that hockey equipment requires.
It might be a good idea to pick up your kit second-hand as this will save you more money than you might think. The average cost for a full kit is anywhere between the £450-£500 mark but if you buy your equipment used then it cost cost as little as £150 if you play your cards right.
The best place to go to for used equipment in the UK is Replay Hockey, who supplied me and my girlfriend with our kit and are highly recommended.
5. Don’t get frustrated
If you get annoyed with yourself then you won’t enjoy playing – trust me. As somebody who is quite competitive myself, I can be my own harshest critic at times but you can’t let yourself get frustrated with the game or else you’ll just stop playing. It’s only a game so have a bit of fun out there. Not everybody gets the chance to play ice hockey so make the most of it and enjoy yourself!