Hockey is one of the more difficult recreational sports to master. You need to skate well with straight-ahead speed. You must also learn to make sharp turns, stop and start quickly, move laterally and skate backward while maintaining good balance. Developing puck-handling, passing and shooting skills can also take some time. Beginners have plenty to accomplish before they can function in even the lowest levels of competition.
Learn to Skate Well
Find a pair of comfortable skates and get on the ice as much as possible. Work on every aspect of your skating. Hockey players must do everything in skates that they could do in sneakers during a floor-hockey game. Many rinks offer skating lessons for those wishing to speed the process. Become a strong skater before trying to play hockey.
Incorporate a Stick and Pucks
Many ice rinks allow you to carry a hockey stick during open skates. Once you can skate comfortably, get the feel of skating and controlling the stick at the same time. When possible, bring a puck to stick-handle as well. Learn to carry the puck on your forehand and switch to your backhand. Figure out if you are more comfortable shooting the puck left or right. Just because you are naturally right-handed, don't assume you will be more comfortable shooting right. Don't attempt slap shots before you learn to control your wrist shots.
Many ice rinks offer "stick-and-puck" sessions. This is an open skate for hockey players of varying levels. Work on your passing with other players. Play some pick-up games to gain a sense of the game's flow and which skills you must work on the most.
Watch Lots of High-Level Hockey
Once you have developed some basic skills, attend the higher-level games in your area to get a better understanding of the game's pace and tactics. Watching the sport live is far more illuminating that watching a game on television. Gauging the speed of the game is difficult unless you are sitting close to the rink.
When you are ready to start playing hockey, get real protective gear. You can start with used equipment including a helmet, gloves and pads to keep your costs down, but focus on safety and don't take shortcuts with your equipment. Sticks and pucks can cause lots of damage. Find a moderately-priced stick you are comfortable with, keeping in mind that some state-of-art composite models break quite easily and are very expensive to replace.
Beginner's Camps and Novice Leagues
Once you are skating comfortably and able to handle, pass and shoot the puck to some degree, you are ready for a beginner's camp or a novice league. Adult beginner's camps aren't as prevalent as youth camps, but they do exist in areas where hockey is popular. So are leagues for adults new to the sport. Seek playing opportunities that are appropriate to your skill level. Getting out of your comfort zone could be frustrating and even dangerous.
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