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There is a multitude of reasons to play ice hockey and it has become an increasingly popular sport over the past years for good reason. Even if you didn’t start at a young age, you can take up the sport now and see a wide range of personal benefits from participating.
Some of the top benefits players receive from playing ice hockey include strengthening their communication skills, getting a great workout, and building camaraderie with their teammates. Ice hockey isn’t just a fun sport to play, though it is that too. It can strengthen character and resolve for many players, as well as teach them respect for themselves and for their opponents.
1. Great Workout
Ice hockey is a great workout for players of all ages and ability levels. Due to the nature of the sport, with its fast-paced speed combined with periods of rest on the bench — hockey counts as high-intensity interval training. This is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise and it burns more calories than say, running continuously.
The body has a chance to rest on the bench before going back onto the ice and playing to its full potential and with as much intensity as the player can muster, which keeps the heart rate up and the body burning calories even after the player is off the ice.
2. Builds Teamwork
No hockey team is built on one singular player, even if that one player is one of the great ones. Forwards and defensemen work together during the game and everyone needs to be able to rely on their goalie to have their back when the puck inevitably makes its way towards the net. The stronger the camaraderie and the trust is between teammates, the stronger the team is as a whole.
The team bonds around a common goal of winning the game and ideally, making it to the playoffs. During this journey, they’ll need to have each other’s back and learn to play off each other’s strengths and support the weaknesses of the team. This teaches lifelong lessons that players can take into all aspects of their life — including family, friends, and even coworkers later on in life.
3. Teaches Respect
If you’ve ever watched a hockey playoff, you’ll have noticed that both teams line up and proceed through a handshake line. This is a sign of respect for both the winning and losing team and it shows great sportsmanship.
At the end of a playoff series, a crowd favorite tradition takes place. Both teams line up and skate down the line to give each other handshakes and congratulate each other on a good game. This often follows games that have been incredibly passionate and at times, violent.
It’s not certain when this tradition began, but it’s one that’s been around for a long time and it shows no signs of going by the wayside.
4. Strengthens Endurance
The high intensity of the sport followed by quick breaks helps to build a player’s endurance. This can help in other aspects of a player’s life and the health of their heart and lungs. Endurance training increases overall strength in the body.
It can also help with cognitive function and players may find themselves less likely to suffer from fatigue. Studies have also shown the possibility that endurance training helps to decrease the chance of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.
5. Improves Communication
In the game of hockey, there is a lot of verbal and nonverbal communication happening. Players may call out to one another or even just gesture as a means of communicating during the fast-paced game.
Players may even use eye contact as a way of communicating to their teammates that they intend to pass the puck towards them. There is no aspect of a player’s life that won’t benefit from communication skills — so this is a great skill to have.
6. Creates Discipline
In order to play hockey in an amateur league or professionally, discipline is a key factor for the players. They must show up for practices and meetings on time, train during the season and the off-season, study the game and watch videos, and take care of their body through proper sleep habits and the food they eat.
The game affects all aspects of their lives if they want to play to the best of their abilities. Players can apply the same type of discipline to other areas of their lives — such as work and school.
7. Shows Humility
There is bound to be a game that a team loses and the players must come to terms with being bested by their opponents. Players learn to come to terms with being humbled and having to keep their heads up at the end of the night and show up to practice the next day.
Hockey also tracks assists and not just goals. This helps to show players that goals are a team effort and rarely are they due to any one single player working alone without the support of his line.
8. Increases Confidence
For young players who are just coming to terms with themselves as individuals and learning how to go through life, hockey can be a key feature in building confidence in themselves. Playing with a team and under a coach who believes in his team, players have the opportunity to see themselves in a new light.
This confidence can spill over into other aspects of life and will lead to the player being successful in other avenues as well. While confidence doesn’t have to equate to cockiness, it can lead to this if it isn’t kept in check.
9. Improved Coordination and Balance
Players require quick reflexes to react to a fast-moving puck down the ice. The constant passing back and forth of the puck help to build a player’s coordination, all while they’re having to balance on skating blades.
Developing these skills can lead to improved agility and balance, which is helpful in everyday aspects of life. Most daily activities involve some level of hand-eye coordination, so it’s beneficial to practice it in hockey.
10. Toughens Up Skin
It’s no secret that hockey is a rough sport and injuries are bound to happen at one point or another. While it’s everyone’s hope that they don’t get hurt, when it does inevitably happen — hockey teaches players to keep their chin up.
Teammates learn how to stick up for each other and have each other’s backs when the time calls for it. You don’t see hockey players sit down and cry after being hit in the mouth with a puck, instead they’re often grinning through their new smile and making the best of it.
Hockey Can Teach Lifelong Lessons
Hockey is a great sport for young minds — as it helps to shape them in key ways during their development. Some of the key reasons to play hockey don’t just involve great exercise and endurance building, but also communication skills and learning how to create discipline in one’s own life.
Many team sports can teach similar lessons, so it depends on the preference of the athlete. Learning how to coexist with teammates and work towards a common goal can be incredibly beneficial for many people, as it gives them purpose. Ice hockey is just one example of this and the camaraderie built while playing the sport can last a lifetime.