Much like the version played on ice that virtually every Canadian is familiar with, ball hockey involves two teams trying to score in the net of the other team. Although the same type of stick is used in the ice-free version, a ball replaces the puck. Six people from each team are on the ice at one time — typically one goalie, two defenders and three forwards. The duration of the game can vary from league to league, but two or three 10- to 15-minute periods tends to be the norm.
Because hockey is a contact sport, some protective gear is needed. In addition to the running shoes and hockey stick you'll need to play the game, gloves and a helmet with a face mask are also required. You can also strap on other protective gear, such as knee pads, shin guards and elbow pads, for extra safety.
Physical education teacher and team captain of the North York Lynx' Absolute Alliance Georgina Solomon finds playing ball hockey "fantastic exercise." Lots of running and sprinting are required in the game, so you're sure to work up quite a sweat. But if you're just getting back into physical activity, don't worry. Players can be switched in and out at any time throughout the game, so if you're up for only short bouts at a time, that's OK. Ball hockey is also a great opportunity to make new friends and to work as a team. If not being able to skate has kept you away from trying hockey, ball hockey can be a place to start, suggests Solomon. Being a part of a team has inspired many women to get fit and healthy and even try out skating and ice hockey for the first time, she explains. Plus, since it can be played in winter or summer, you can keep working on your skills and fitness level year-round.
All kinds of ball hockey teams for different ages, sexes and levels of experience can be found out there, so it's possible for everyone to get involved. Solomon's team, for example, is made up of moms and career women over the age of 30, who come together once a week for a little fun and fitness. Or if you have some experience and want to start prepping for a competitive team right away, you can do that too. How you play the game and what you get from it is entirely up to you. To join a team, check out your province's ball hockey association, and look for a league in your area:
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