New to hockey?

Like most sports, it can be daunting to start playing hockey, particularly as you’re likely to be joining a team with more experienced players.

But don’t worry! It’s actually very simple to pick up the basics of hockey, plus it’s a great way to make friends and get fit.

Below are a few of the questions you might have about playing hockey along with what we hope are some useful answers!

What clothing/equipment do I need?

To start with you’ll just need normal, keep fit clothing and trainers. In addition, you will need two key items to protect you – shin pads and a mouthguard. You’ll also need a hockey stick, though most clubs will be able to lend you one to start with.

Once you’ve decided to stick with hockey (excuse the pun) then you will need your own stick and will probably find it helpful to have a ‘mit’ to protect the knuckles of your left hand, which often scrapes along the ground.

You will also need proper studded boots, the type of stud you’ll need will depend on whether you are playing on grass or articificial turf.

Your club will probably have specific coloured kit which you will be able to buy through them. This will consist of a shirt, socks, shorts for men and shorts/skirt/skort for ladies.

If you decide to play in goal then you will also need a protective goalie kit. What this consists of will vary depending on the safety specifications for the league you’re playing in and your own personal preference. Goalies generally use a slightly different shape stick to pitch players.

Is it a dangerous sport?

It wouldn’t be right for us to say that injuries never happen in hockey, but the majority of injuries tend to be strains and tears related to slipping over or twisting joints the wrong way – which is the sort of injury which can happen in most sports.

Injuries caused by sticks or, more commonly, balls do also occur. Generally these happen below the knee (which is why good boots and shinpads are so vital) but occasionally can be higher up. Wearing a gum shield is very important as, while rare, mouth injuries do happen.

What are the basic rules?

There are a few basic rules which it will help you to know before you have a go at hockey:

  • You can’t kick the ball, which includes the ball accidentally hittting your feet.
  • You can only hit the ball with the flat side of your stick.
  • You can’t wave your stick above your head in a way that could be dangerous.

So long as you remember these, you can learn the full rules of hockey as you go along.

Does it matter if I’m very young/old/unfit?

Not at all! Most clubs have a variety of teams, both junior and senior, so you can usually find a team that play at the level you’re comfortable with. Players generally start around age 8 and keep on going well into their 60s, and beyond in some cases!

If you like hockey but don’t fancy actually playing, there are always opportunities in local clubs to train to be an umpire.

Can disabled people play hockey?

Yes! Though the type of hockey you can play, obviously, depends on your disability. For example, many players who only have the use of one arm will find that they can fit into an able-bodied hockey team without too much of a disadvantage, so long as their ‘good’ arm is sufficiently strong. For wheelchair users, many countries have leagues for indoor hockey with adapted rules. Contact your national hockey association for more information.