How Do You Become A Pro Hockey Player?

Pro ice Hockey Players

Have you ever wondered how to become a professional hockey player? Hockey is one of the most entertaining, fast-paced, and physical sports played at a professional level. Becoming a professional in any sport takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Read more to find out what it takes to become a pro hockey player.


What is Pro Hockey?

The NHL, or National Hockey League, consists of 32 professional hockey teams. These teams are based in North America, with 25 teams located in the United States and seven in Canada. Although these teams are primarily from Canada and the United States, there are professional hockey players from around the world competing in the league. In fact, some of the biggest hockey countries include Russia, Finland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. Although the NHL is the biggest and most dominant hockey league, there are several popular professional leagues that are located in other countries. For example, the second-best hockey league in the world is called the Kontinental Hockey League or KHL, and it is located in Russia. There are opportunities to play professional hockey all around the world, but the NHL in North America is the most dominant league and pays the most for professional hockey.

How to Become a Professional Hockey Player

Professional hockey is one of the hardest sports to make it to the professional level. In fact, only 12% of hockey players who play in high school make it to play in college; from there, that percentage decreases greatly for professionals. 

There are a few main components of becoming a professional hockey player. These include:

  • Size - Professional hockey players are typically 5’9” and taller.
  • High skill level - The faster and more disciplined you are with your skills, the more likely you are to play professionally.
  • High competition level - The better players and teams that you play against while developing your skills, the better chance you have of being noticed by scouts.
  • Passion - Someone who wants to play professional hockey needs to have an intense passion for the game in order to make it.

Along with these skills, there are multiple pathways to the professional level. The most common is through the major junior hockey leagues in North America, which are all under the umbrella of the Canadian Hockey League. These three leagues, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Western Hockey League, make up the majority of the board on NHL Draft day. The second and less common pathway is playing Division I hockey. With playing college hockey being a less common pathway, only four players of the 217 drafted in the 2019 NHL Draft were from Division I schools. If players do get recruited from a D1 school, they are typically the stand-out players of the conference.

Starting Young

Like all professional sports, to play hockey professionally, you must start developing skills at a young age. When first starting, a player must know how to skate forward, backward, side to side, make quick turns, and be able to stop on a dime. The speed of the game increases as the level gets higher. After this, a player must know the basic skills of passing, shooting, and stickhandling. A player that wants to play professionally must have a high endurance level along with lean body mass and high muscular strength. These both can be worked on through conditioning, lifting, and other high endurance activities to get players into excellent shape to skate.