So you’ve been watching hockey for years, and you know everything about it. You know the teams, the players, the stats, and that the Blues are the spawn of Satan. However, for whatever reason you haven’t played. Or you haven’t played in years. Maybe you’ve had an itch to learn how to play, and never quite scratched it. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not too late. I learned as an adult (if you ever see me play and want to take issue with the idea that I ever actually learned, well, you’re probably justified), and know people who have learned at all ages, from 20 to well into their 50’s. I can also say, without a doubt, that learning to play was one of the absolute best decisions I’ve ever made. So I am writing this series of posts to convince you to play as well, and show you as best I can how to learn.
So, why should you learn? A bunch of reasons!
To appreciate the sport on a deeper level – Now, I am in no way saying you need to play hockey to understand the game. Some of the best hockey minds I know have never played. But let’s be real, getting on the ice yourself can only deepen your understanding of the game. It can help you understand just how skillful that deke was, how precise that pass was, how sick that top shelf backhand was. Skate a mile in the players skates as it were.
You’ll be helping the sport grow – This may sound naive, but it is completely true. Hockey is a relatively minor sport within America in terms of participation. While you as an adult will never be as important to its growth as children are, you can grow it in a real way. The money you spend on the game will help it expand, both on the local level by injecting money into the rinks and leagues, as well as the local shops, and will help the big gear companies continue to expand. Hell, if more people played, more companies could get in on the game. Wouldn’t it be fun to see Nike release a line of gear like they did with golf a few years ago? And from a non-monetary perspective, every new person playing brings their unique skillset and life perspective to the game, further enriching it.
The “post-game locker room beer” – Nothing will ever taste sweeter, no matter how bad the beer is. Plus, in the league I’m playing in right now, sometimes we go heckle other teams while drinking the beer after we change. Makes the beer taste even better!
Your game matters more than your professional teams – A bunch of us, myself included, live and die with our NHL team, but the funny thing is that we have no control over what our team does. Maybe your coach is making dumb personnel decisions and it’s driving you mad, maybe your front office keeps extending the wrong players. Maybe the players on your team have let you down recently (not that that’s happened recently nooooooo sir). But if you play, you’d be amazed to see that your game, which you have control over, will begin to take precedence. It’s nice!
But really, screw all of those reasons, you’ll do it because it’s fun! I remember the first time I stepped onto the ice with my gear after learning to skate, and felt the wind rush over my face as I skated on the empty rink. I’ll never forget the moment. I’ll never forget my first goal, which just so happened to be in my first game. Or how could I forget when I scored a no look backhand as my first goal in my second season. I think I had the wildest, gangliest celebration ever. Those moments will stay with me forever. So will the laughter, both on the ice and in the locker room. This last year, I had more bad weeks than good ones. No matter how bad the week was though, when I stepped onto the ice for a game, everything else disappeared, and would stay disappeared until I went to bed that night.
Basically, playing hockey is amazing, and I wish more hockey fans did it! But I already convinced you to learn, right? Well, good! Stay tuned this week, and I’ll show you how to learn!
Here are the posts you can expect:
Wednesday: Your Game Plan for Learning to Play Hockey
Thursday: SPECIAL GUEST POST from Sara Garcia (@sara_lnr) on playing hockey as a woman in co-ed leagues
Friday: What to Buy
Monday: How to Go About Learning to Skate
Tuesday: How to Learn to Play
Wednesday: Addressing Common Concerns (and any questions you have hint hint)