Is Ice Hockey Hard to Learn? Plus How You Can Speed Up the Process


Interested in learning how to play ice hockey?

Well, you’re in for a treat.

It’s one of the greatest sports in the world. But, it’s also one of the most intense sports on the planet.

In fact, it’s the fastest team sport in the world!

What about learning the game? Is it hard? Is it easy? And how long does it take to learn?

In this article, we’ll answer all of those questions and more.

Let’s begin.

Here’s Whether Ice Hockey Is Hard to Learn:

Yes, ice hockey is hard to learn compared to other sports. This is because the game isn’t played on foot—but on ice. The most difficult part of playing ice hockey is ice skating. Learning how to ice skate is like learning to walk all over again. Once you can skate, playing hockey is much easier.

How Long Does it Take to Learn Ice Hockey?

While ice hockey can take a long time to master, the fundamentals can be learned in a few weeks.

If you’re starting out young, it’ll take much longer to learn the basics. It could be a few weeks to a few months. However, you’ll have a much better foundation than adults since your brain is more malleable.

But, if you’re starting out as a late teen or adult, you can learn much quicker. You already know how to walk, run, and sprint. Plus, your brain isn’t growing through major developmental changes anymore. 

You should be able to learn the basics within a week or two.

How Long It Does It Take to Get Good at Ice Hockey

It typically takes a few weeks to learn the basics of ice hockey. But, if you’re wanting to get good at the game, it will take years.

The reality is, hockey is no different than any other discipline in terms of mastery.

The rule of 10,000 applies just the same to hockey as any other sport or skill.

If you can put 10,000 hours in, which works out to about 3 hours a day for 10 years, you’ll master the sport.

While this is a very ambitious goal—the reality is you need far less to get good enough at hockey.

For some people, being good means being good enough to play beer league hockey.

How Quickly Can You Start Playing in an Adult Hockey League?

If you’re starting as an adult and you want to be able to play in a recreational adult league, here’s what you should do:

1. Buy all the hockey gear you’ll need for a game.

2. Attend “stick and puck” sessions at your local rink a few times a week.

3. Attend “drop in” hockey games at your local rink after 2-3 months of stick and puck.

4. Practice stickhandling at home every day for a minimum 10 minutes.

Once you can keep up with the other players in your drop in hockey games, you’re probably ready to play adult hockey. If you follow the above steps, this should take you 3-6 months of practicing from the time you start learning how to play hockey. 

Beer leagues range in levels (typically from A to D), with D being the lowest level. Sign up for a D-level team, and give it a shot. 

And, if you really want to accelerate the time it takes to get good at hockey, sign up for private lessons. 

There are adult hockey programs you can take to learn from elite hockey coaches. They typically offer basic beginner programs and power skating. Signing up for power skating will be extremely beneficial to getting really good at ice hockey in a short amount of time.

What Age Is Too Late to Start Ice Hockey?

You’re never too old to start playing hockey.

Unless you’re in your 90s. Then it might be tough. But, believe it or not, there are still some 90-year-olds playing hockey!

Many hockey players don’t start playing ice hockey until they’re adults.

If you want to get really good at hockey, you can do so even if you start as a teen or adult. Obviously, the earlier you start, the better.

If you’re a teenager or adult looking to play hockey, then just start. If you want to get good fast and you can afford it, take private skating lessons.

There are house leagues for teens and lower-level beer leagues for adults who play at a beginner level. 

As you get better, you could even make the jump to a rep league as a teen. As an adult, you’ll be able to move up the ranks from D to C, and beyond as you grow in your skill level.

Why Is Ice Hockey One of the Hardest Sports?

Ice hockey is one of the hardest sports for a few reasons.

Ice Skating

The first one is because it’s played on ice skates, rather than on foot (like most sports).

This is the most unique aspect of ice hockey. It’s on ice.

The truth is, learning ice hockey really comes down to learning two different skills: ice skating and hockey.

If you can’t skate on ice skates, then you won’t be able to play. It doesn’t matter how good of a pass, shot, or hit you can make in the game.

If you can’t move around, you can’t play.

That’s why it’s so important to devote the majority of your energy into getting good at ice skating when you’re first learning how to play hockey.

Using a Hockey Stick

Once you’ve got your skating down, then it’s time to learn how to play. 

Hockey is also harder than other major sports because you’re using a handheld object to play with. Unlike football, soccer, and basketball which only require the specific ball coming into contact with your body, hockey uses a stick to interact with the ball.

This adds another extremely challenging element to the game. You have to learn how to use a hockey stick. This is the second major skillset you have to learn after skating. You need to develop a feel for the puck using your hockey stick. It has to become like an extension of your arm.

The Speed of the Game

The third reason hockey is one of the hardest sports is due to the speed of the game.

Hockey is the fastest team sport on earth. Ice skates propel hockey players at top speeds of 25 miles per hour. 

The overall speed of the game makes it harder to track what’s going on at any time. It also makes it extremely exhausting. 

The intense speed at which the game is played is why hockey players have to have short shifts.

The Physicality

The fourth reason hockey is one of the hardest sports is the physicality.

In hockey, you’re allowed to hit other players to check them off the puck.

Using your body to check other players is common in many leagues. This requires a great deal of strength to be able to get players off the puck (and defend yourself against an opposing player’s hit on you).

What Age Can You Start Playing Ice Hockey?

As soon as you can skate, you can play ice hockey.

Typically, kids can start learning how to skate at around 3-4 years old.

However, you could still take your kid ice skating at 2-3 years old, though you probably shouldn’t try below 2 as they’re still learning how to walk.

In terms of playing in an organized league, children can start at 5 years old.

Can a 13, 14, or 15-year old Start Playing Hockey?

If you’re a teenager, you might be wondering if it’s too late to start playing hockey. Here’s what you need to know depending on your age:

Can a 13 Year Old Start Playing Hockey?

Yes, a 13 year old can start playing hockey. It’s very common for kids to start playing when they’re 13. 

While it may be a bit tough to initially compete against other players who have been playing for a few years, you’re still young enough that you could get up to their level relatively quickly.

Is 14 Too Old to Start Hockey?

No, 14 isn’t too old to start playing hockey.

In fact, many 14-year-olds start playing the game and can compete with other players.

It’s best to start out in a house league rather than try out for rep for your first year or two.

Can You Start Ice Hockey at 15?

Yes, you can start ice hockey at 15. It’s going to be much harder trying to compete against other players since many have likely been playing for 5-10 years at this point.

However, don’t let it discourage you.

You can play house hockey. While it may be very difficult to get good enough to play in rep hockey by the time you’re out of high school, it’s not impossible. 

If you want to accelerate your game, you should sign up for private skating lessons with a hockey program. While they’re not cheap, they can help speed up your learning time exponentially.

How Long Does it Take an Adult to Learn Ice Skating?

For adults, the learning curve to play hockey is much shorter than for children.

Typically speaking, it should only take 1-3 weeks to learn the basics of ice skating.

This is assuming you’re able to get out 3-5 times per week.

You’ll be a bit wobbly for your first week or two. But, after the first few weeks, your legs will gain strength and you’ll be able to glide around a bit.

By this time, you’ll likely be able to start playing with your hockey stick in hand.

After 1-2 months, you should be able to skate well enough to play in a real hockey game.

What Is the Most Important Skill in Ice Hockey?

The most important skill in ice hockey is ice skating, by far.

It’s the most crucial skill. If you can’t skate, you can’t play the game.

If you look at the NHL, you’ll notice the greatest players in the game are also the best skaters in the game. There’s a reason for this.

If you can skate with ease, you can play better offense, defense, and even goalie.

When you’re first learning how to play ice hockey, remember the 80/20 rule.

You should invest 80% of your time focusing on getting better at skating and 20% of your time playing with the puck.

Sources

https://www.jospt.org/doi/10.2519/jospt.1992.15.2.92

https://hockeyinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/9-skating-revs-47-53.pdf

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