The Surprising Truth About How Hard It Is To Pick Up Hockey – Revealed By A Pro

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When you think of hockey, what comes to mind? A fast-paced game played on ice? Players fiercely skating and fighting for the puck? While these are certainly parts of the game, picking up hockey requires much more than just skating ability.

As a pro hockey player, I know firsthand just how challenging it can be to learn and master the sport. From the physical demands of skating and body checking to the mental challenges of quick decision-making and teamwork, hockey is a complex and demanding game.

In this blog post, I’ll reveal the surprising truth about just how hard it is to pick up hockey, and what you can do to improve your game, whether you’re a beginner or looking to take your skills to the next level.

Ready to lace up your skates and hit the ice? Let’s dive in and explore the world of hockey together.

Why hockey is more than just skating and shooting

At its core, hockey is a sport that demands a unique combination of physical and mental skills. While skating and shooting may be the most visible aspects of the game, there’s much more to hockey than meets the eye.

Here are just a few examples:

Hockey requires quick decision-making

One of the biggest challenges in hockey is making split-second decisions under pressure. With players skating at high speeds and the puck constantly in motion, you need to be able to read the game and anticipate the next move at all times. This requires a combination of on-ice experience, mental agility, and strategic thinking.

Teamwork is crucial in hockey

While individual skill is important, hockey is ultimately a team sport. In order to succeed, players need to work together both on and off the ice. This means developing strong communication skills, building trust with your teammates, and learning to play your role within the team structure.

Hockey demands physical toughness

From body checking to blocked shots, hockey is a physically demanding sport that requires a high level of toughness and resilience. To succeed on the ice, players need to be in top physical condition, with the strength and endurance to keep going for a full 60-minute game.

So, while skating and shooting may be the most visible aspects of hockey, there’s much more to the game than meets the eye. By developing a range of physical and mental skills, and learning to work effectively with your teammates, you can take your game to the next level and enjoy all that hockey has to offer.

The Mental and Physical Challenges of Hockey

Playing hockey requires a unique combination of mental and physical skills that sets it apart from other sports. From the intense physical demands to the mental preparation required before every game, hockey is a sport that challenges players in many ways.

One of the biggest challenges of hockey is the constant physical toll it takes on players. The physical demands of skating, shooting, and body checking require strength, endurance, and agility. It’s not just about being in top physical condition, but also being able to perform at your best under pressure.

The Physical Challenges of Hockey

The physical challenges of hockey can be broken down into three main categories:

  • Skating: Skating requires a lot of strength and agility, especially when making quick turns and sudden stops. Skaters need to be able to maintain their speed for extended periods of time, which requires both cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance.
  • Shooting: Shooting the puck requires a lot of upper body strength and coordination. Players need to be able to shoot accurately and with power, which requires a lot of practice and training.
  • Body Checking: Body checking is a fundamental part of hockey, but it can also be one of the most physically demanding. Players need to be able to withstand the impact of a body check and be able to deliver one themselves.

The Mental Challenges of Hockey

While the physical demands of hockey are certainly challenging, the mental aspect of the sport is just as important. Hockey players need to be mentally tough and able to handle the pressure that comes with competing at a high level.

  • Focus: Hockey requires intense focus and concentration, especially when the game is on the line. Players need to be able to tune out distractions and stay focused on the task at hand.
  • Mental Toughness: Hockey players need to be mentally tough and able to handle adversity. Whether it’s dealing with injuries, setbacks, or a tough loss, players need to be able to bounce back and stay focused on their goals.
  • Strategy: Hockey is a strategic sport that requires players to be able to think on their feet and make split-second decisions. Players need to be able to read the game and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, hockey is a sport that will challenge you both mentally and physically. But with the right training and preparation, it’s a challenge that can be overcome.

Breaking down the basics: Stickhandling, passing, and shooting

Hockey is a sport that requires a wide range of skills, but perhaps none more important than stickhandling, passing, and shooting. These three basic skills are essential for any player looking to be successful on the ice, and they require a combination of technique, speed, and precision.

Stickhandling is the ability to control the puck while skating with it, and it involves a combination of hand-eye coordination, quick reflexes, and creativity. A player with good stickhandling skills can move the puck around defenders and create scoring opportunities.


  • Accuracy: A good pass needs to be accurate and delivered with the right amount of force to reach its target.

  • Vision: Good passers have excellent vision and are always aware of their surroundings on the ice.

  • Timing: Timing is essential in passing, and a well-timed pass can lead to a breakaway or a one-timer.


  • Accuracy: A good shot needs to be accurate and delivered with enough power to beat the goalie.

  • Technique: Shooting requires proper technique, including weight transfer, follow-through, and body positioning.

  • Creativity: Great shooters are also creative, able to read the play and find new ways to score.

Mastering these basic skills is crucial for any hockey player looking to improve their game. Whether you’re a forward, defenseman, or goaltender, stickhandling, passing, and shooting are essential tools for success on the ice.

The importance of proper equipment and training

Proper equipment and training are essential for both safety and performance in hockey. The sport is known for its physicality and fast-paced nature, which can lead to injuries if players are not adequately protected or trained. Helmets, pads, gloves, and skates are just a few of the necessary pieces of equipment that can help prevent serious injuries on the ice. Additionally, training programs that focus on strength, agility, and endurance can improve a player’s performance and reduce their risk of injury.

Here are three key reasons why proper equipment and training are crucial in hockey:

Injury prevention

Wearing the right equipment can protect players from serious injuries such as concussions, broken bones, and cuts. Helmets are particularly important for preventing head injuries, while padding can help cushion falls and collisions. Properly fitting skates can also prevent ankle and foot injuries. Training programs that focus on agility and balance can improve a player’s ability to avoid collisions and falls on the ice.

Performance improvement

Training programs that focus on strength, agility, and endurance can help players perform at their best. Stickhandling, passing, and shooting are essential skills in hockey, and training can help players improve their technique and accuracy. Endurance training can help players maintain their speed and energy throughout a game, while strength training can improve their power and physicality on the ice.

Long-term health

Proper equipment and training can also have long-term benefits for a player’s health and well-being. Injuries sustained on the ice can have lasting effects, and taking steps to prevent them can help players avoid long-term complications. Additionally, staying active and physically fit through hockey can improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Expert tips for getting started and improving your game

Ice hockey is a challenging and dynamic sport that requires a combination of physical and mental skills to succeed. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, there are always ways to improve your game. Here are some expert tips to help you get started and take your skills to the next level.

First and foremost, it’s essential to develop good habits and work on your fundamentals. This means practicing stickhandling, passing, shooting, and skating regularly. Consistency is key, and you should aim to practice at least a few times a week. Start with simple drills and gradually increase the difficulty level to challenge yourself and build your skills.


Skating is the foundation of ice hockey and should be your primary focus when you’re first starting. Good skating technique will help you move quickly and efficiently on the ice, allowing you to stay balanced and make sharp turns. A few key tips for improving your skating include:

  • Keep your knees bent and your weight centered over your skates.
  • Use short, powerful strides to generate speed.
  • Practice stopping and starting quickly to change direction.


Stickhandling is the ability to control the puck while skating and is an essential skill for any ice hockey player. It requires good hand-eye coordination, quick reflexes, and a solid understanding of how to manipulate the puck. Here are a few tips to help you improve your stickhandling:

  • Practice with a stickhandling ball or puck to develop your touch and feel for the puck.
  • Use a variety of moves, including fakes, dekes, and toe drags, to keep defenders off balance.
  • Work on your peripheral vision to see the entire ice and anticipate plays.


Scoring goals is the ultimate objective in ice hockey, and having a good shot is essential to achieving that goal. There are many different types of shots, including wrist shots, slap shots, and snap shots, each with its own unique technique. Here are some tips to help you improve your shooting:

  • Practice shooting from different angles and distances to develop accuracy and power.
  • Use proper technique, including keeping your head up, following through with your shot, and aiming for specific spots on the net.
  • Work on your timing and release to shoot quickly and surprise the goalie.

Remember, improving your skills in ice hockey takes time, effort, and dedication. But with these expert tips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better player and enjoying all the excitement and thrill of this fantastic sport.

Frequently Asked Questions

How hard is it to pick up hockey?

Picking up hockey can be challenging but with dedication and practice, anyone can learn the fundamentals. Learning to skate is the first step, but it takes time and effort to master. Once you are comfortable on skates, stickhandling and shooting skills can be developed through repetition and training drills. Don’t be discouraged if progress seems slow at first, persistence pays off.

Do I need to know how to skate before playing hockey?

While it is helpful to have basic skating skills before playing hockey, it is not mandatory. Many beginner hockey programs offer skating lessons as part of the training. Learning to skate and play hockey at the same time can be an advantage, as it allows you to practice your skills in real game situations.

What equipment do I need to play hockey?

To play hockey, you will need a stick, skates, helmet, gloves, shin guards, elbow pads, and a mouthguard. It is also recommended to wear a protective cup and neck guard. Equipment can be expensive, but there are many affordable options available for beginners.

Can I play hockey if I’m not in good shape?

Hockey is a physically demanding sport, but it is never too late to start getting in shape. Start with basic cardio and strength training exercises to improve your endurance and strength. Many beginner hockey programs offer low-impact training to help players get in shape without risking injury. Remember to consult with a doctor before starting any new exercise program.

Is hockey a safe sport?

As with any physical activity, there is a risk of injury in hockey. However, wearing the proper equipment and following safety guidelines can significantly reduce the risk of injury. It is also important to play within your abilities and to avoid dangerous plays that could cause harm to yourself or other players.

What are some beginner tips for playing hockey?

Start with basic skating and stickhandling drills to develop your skills. Focus on proper technique and form, rather than speed or power. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and ask for feedback from more experienced players or coaches. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the game!

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