How To Play Ice Hockey

How To Play Ice Hockey

Ice hockey is a very popular sport worldwide. To play ice hockey, it is necessary to understand the basic rules and terminology, the ice, and the equipment. Practicing skills like stickhandling, passing, and shooting are vital for all hockey players. Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to play ice hockey.

1. Learn the Basics

Ice Hockey Basics

Ice hockey is played on a large sheet of ice, called a hockey rink. Players use a stick, which features a long shaft with a curved blade at the end, to handle, pass, and shoot a rubber disc, called a puck.

Play starts with a faceoff, which features two players attempting to gain possession of a puck dropped by the referee. The faceoffs take place at a faceoff dot. Once play starts, players must be aware of their surroundings, including the painted lines on the ice. There are several painted lines on the ice, each serving a different purpose, such as the goal line, red line, blue lines, and hash marks.

You will also need to know the various positions on the ice, including the goalie, center, right wing, left wing, left defenseman, and right defenseman. Each position has different roles and responsibilities.

2. Understand the Rules

Ice Hockey Rules and Regulations

In ice hockey, there are two teams, each with five skaters and one goaltender on the ice at a time. The two teams compete against each other to score goals. To score a goal, a player must use their stick to shoot the puck into the opposing team’s net. Each net is guarded by a goaltender. The team playing defense tries to prevent goals being scored by trying to take the puck away from the offense.

If a player breaks a rule in hockey, such as tripping an opponent, they are assessed a penalty. A penalty results in a certain amount of time in the penalty box. Some penalties can also result in ejection or a penalty shot. The most common penalties in hockey are tripping, hooking, slashing, high-sticking, and fighting.

There are also several violations in hockey that result in play stoppages. Offsides, icing, and hand-passes are all examples of violations seen throughout a hockey game.

3. Get Equipment

Ice Hockey Equipment

Hockey players need the right equipment to play the game and to stay safe. For even a friendly game of hockey, players need pucks, sticks, skates, and goals before they can start. Due to the physical nature of the sport, hockey players also always wear helmets, gloves, and several pairs of pads to protect them from injury. Like any sport, hockey teams require uniforms that have specific colors, numbers, and often the surname of each player on the back.

4. Find a Rink

Ice Hockey Rink

Ice hockey is played on a frozen surface, which can be found at an ice rink. Ice rinks feature boards, glass, nets, team benches, a scoreboard, and places for spectators to watch the action. You will want to check the web to see where the nearest ice rink is in your area.

Once you are able to find a rink in your area, you will be able to practice and play games. Check with the rink manager or a rink website to find out when you are able to play, as many rinks have packed schedules.

If a rink isn’t available to you, there are other ways to practice hockey. Off-ice, or “dry-land,” shooting, passing, and stickhandling can be done on cement or any other hard surface. You can also search for roller hockey rinks or street hockey setups to practice your moves until an actual ice rink is available.

5. Skating

Ice Hockey Skating

Being good at ice hockey requires constant practice of certain skills unique to the sport. As one of few sports played on ice, the first major skill to practice in hockey is skating. The best hockey players can quickly and accurately move back and forth across the rink, and that level of comfort takes many hours of practice.

To practice your skating, all you need are skates and ice to skate on. There are several skating drills that can help you improve your skating. For example, cones are used in many skating drills to help with turning and quickly changing direction, and circle skating drills use the five circles painted on the ice. You can also practice the skating motion using a sliding board, which is a specialized off-ice training tool used to simulate the act of skating.

6. Stickhandling

Ice Hockey Stickhandling

Stickhandling is an important aspect of hockey. It involves handling the puck with your stick. A good stickhandler will be able to protect the puck from opponents effectively. To practice stickhandling, all you need is a stick and a puck. You don’t even need a sheet of ice, and a ball will work if a puck isn’t available to you.

To practice your stickhandling, you should start out simply moving the ball/puck between your forehand and backhand, side to side. Once you have the basics down, you can get into more advanced stickhandling moves, like toe drags and dekes.

7. Passing

Ice Hockey passing

Passing is one of the most important skills to build because hockey is a team sport. The key to good passing is speed and accuracy. Hockey is a fast-paced game so players are constantly making quick decisions to keep gliding or pass to a particular person on their team. You also want to get better at passing because the defensive team will be working just as hard to intercept or interrupt your passes.

To practice your passing, you should get together with at least one other friend or teammate and start hitting the puck back and forth to each other while you skate down the rink. Once you have a handle on that motion, you can add in other friends or teammates to act as defensive players who will try to interfere with your passing strategy.

8. Shooting

Ice Hockey Shooting

Shooting is one of the most critical skills in hockey, as it is how goals are scored. There are several different types of shots, including slap shots, snap shots, wrist shots, and backhand shots. Players should try and be proficient in as many as possible.

To practice shooting, all you need is a stick, puck, and target to shoot at. The best target is a goal with a goalie guarding it, but any wall or net will work fine. As a beginner, simply working on your form and release is most important. If you are practicing alone, it may be beneficial to take a video of yourself shooting, so you can identify where you need to improve.

9. Practice With Others

Ice Hockey Practice

Practicing with others is a great way to improve your hockey skills and knowledge. The more players you practice with, the more practice will start to feel like a real game. Practicing passing, shooting, and stickhandling with others will improve your skills in all three areas.

An easy way to practice with others is to go to your local rink during open hockey sessions. You will be able to easily meet other players who are honing their skills.

10. Play a Game

Ice Hockey Gameplay

Once you understand ice hockey and have practiced sufficiently, the only thing left to do is play in a game. Playing in a game is more competitive than practice, as you are on a team trying to win the game. When playing the game, it is important to keep in mind the following:

Safety: Hockey is a physical game, so make sure to look out for your safety and the safety of others.

Etiquette: Respect your teammates, opponents, officials, and coaches at all times.

Communication: Work with your teammates and communicate with them to score goals and defend effectively.

Playing in a game is the most rewarding part of ice hockey, as you can show off what you have learned and practiced in a competitive setting.


How do you play hockey?

To play hockey, you need to skate across the rink and try to shoot the puck into the opposing team’s goal more times than they can shoot the puck into yours. Hockey is a team sport, so you’ll need to pass the puck to other players and sometimes even check defending players out of the way. When the other team has possession of the puck, you’ll need to work with your teammates to make sure your goal is well-defended and try getting the puck back in your own team’s possession.