How Many Youth Hockey Players In Canada? [Updated!]

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Youth hockey is on the rise in Canada. While the number of registered players has increased by 15% between 2015 and 2019, the rate of participation for those aged between 4 and 14 has more than doubled in that same time. In 2019, there were 868,300 registered players in Canada. That’s compared to 616,300 registered players in 2015. (Canadian Institute for Health Information)

If your child is in love with the sport, it’s time to celebrate! However, if you’re reading this, then chances are you’re either an athletic parent yourself, or you’re about to become one. Let’s examine the latest statistics to get a sense of just how many youth hockey players there are in Canada, and why more and more families are getting involved in the sport.

The Increase In Registration

In April of 2019, Hockey Canada reported that there were 868,300 registered players in the country. (Hockey Canada Annual Report) That’s compared to 616,300 registered players in 2015. (Statista) At the end of the 2018-2019 season there were 743,982 registered players in Canada. (Hockey Canada Annual Report) While that’s a decrease of 29,292 players from the previous year, it’s still an increase of 15% from the previous year. (Statista)

These numbers indicate that more and more kids are playing hockey. In fact, according to Canadian scholar and statistician Luc Menard, the number of youth players in Canada has increased dramatically over the past five years. Between 2010 and 2014, there were 450,000 kids playing hockey in the country. By 2018, that number had increased to 600,000. (Luc Menard, Hockey Experts) Menard attributes this increase to a number of causes. He notes that the sport has become more affordable, while also becoming more accessible. Parents are also taking a more active role in their kids’ educations, especially in sports-related matters. So whether it’s a parent who wants their child to be involved in a variety of sports, or an athletic parent who wants their child to specialize in one, more and more families are getting involved in the sports that their kids play.

There has also been a shift in the way that coaches and scouts view the game. Back in the day, a skilled hockey player would typically be sought after. However, nowadays, speed and skill are only part of the equation. Scouts are also looking to uncover the unique talents of each player, as well as their potential in other areas, such as leadership. (Luc Menard, Hockey Experts) The bottom line is that many more kids are playing hockey than there were five years ago, and the numbers continue to rise.

Where Do They Play?

One of the biggest changes associated with youth hockey in the past few years is the sport’s nationwide expansion. Back in 2010, there were only a few hundred teams in the country. Even in 2019, after nearly 100 teams were re-registered, there were only 675 teams registered with Hockey Canada. So while there has been a lot of growth, even now the sport is largely regional.

The most populated area of Canada is the West, where the bulk of the population is located. British Columbia and Alberta each have over 100,000 registered players, and there are also a lot of players in Winnipeg. (Hockey Canada Annual Report) However, outside of these major urban centers, there aren’t many teams to be found. (Canada’s Playable Surface) Even in the most populated areas of Canada, though, the rate of participation is only about 10%, compared to the world average of 20%. (Hockey Canada Annual Report) This is largely due to a lack of resources, both financial and human, in smaller communities. (Canada’s Playable Surface)

The Rise In Youth Hockey

If you’re looking for an easy way to get your child involved in a team sport, consider youth hockey. Not only is it an affordable way to promote team work and fitness, it’s also a great way to develop their social skills. So if you’re in the market for a sport that’s both lucrative and rewarding, look no further than youth hockey.

In the past year, the number of youth hockey players in Canada has almost tripled. While the overall rate of participation increased by 15%, the rate of increase for those aged between 4 and 14 was 53%. (Hockey Canada Annual Report) So while it’s definitely a viable option for families that can afford it, if your priority is getting your child into a lucrative career, you might want to consider other options.

One option is rugby union, which is also emerging as a viable sport for affluent families. It’s a sport that requires a lot of skill, but it’s also very affordable. (Chris Thiessen, CEO of Canadian Sports Marketing) The top teams in the country can be very costly to join. However, the cost of a child’s hockey registration is only about $50 per year. (Hockey Canada) While that might sound like a lot, it’s still considerably less than the cost of a child’s soccer or rugby union registration. (Canadian Sports Marketing) The low participation rates in smaller communities is also creating an underserved market, which Canadian Sports Marketing predicts could grow to as much as 500,000 players by 2035. (Chris Thiessen, CEO of Canadian Sports Marketing) If your child is in Grade 5 or 6, and you want them to have a leg up on the competition, having them play hockey is the way to go. While it might seem like a luxury to be able to afford a private school education, it can also be the key to getting your child into a gifted and talented program, or even a prep school or university. (Luc Menard, Hockey Experts)

Why Are More Families Getting Involved?

There are many benefits to getting your child involved in sports. However, one of the biggest reasons behind this trend is because more and more families see the value in sports.

According to Canadian sportscaster Bob McElligott, there is considerable value in sports for families. He notes that sports can be a great opportunity for children to develop a variety of skills, while also being physically active. (Bob McElligott, On The Mark) It’s also because of this value that more and more families are getting involved. Whether it’s a parent who wants their child to be involved in a variety of sports, or an athletic parent who wants to expose their child to a specific sport, more and more families are taking a more active role in their kids’ educations. (Luc Menard, Hockey Experts) While there are certainly benefits to sports, it’s definitely not a free ride. Especially if your goal is to get your child into a competitive sport, you might want to consider other options.

The bottom line is that while it’s always a nice gesture to sign up your child for sports activities, it’s not necessarily the best choice. It depends on your objectives and the type of sport your child wants to play. If you’re looking for a way to develop your child’s social skills, and they enjoy playing on a team, then consider youth hockey. It’s also a great way to get them involved in a sport that they enjoy, while also promoting team work and fitness. As long as they’re having fun, your child will be developing important skills, which will better prepare them for life in the real world.

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