When you are just starting to become interested in hockey, it could be a bit confusing trying to figure out all of the different variants of the sport. Ice hockey alone has a lot of subcategories, or divisions, not to mention other completely different types of hockey. I will try my best to explain some of them in this article so that you get a better understanding of the sport, but I will be focusing mostly on ice hockey since that is my area of interest.
What is Ice Hockey?
In a nutshell, ice hockey is a full-contact sport played by two teams of six skaters per team on a frozen ice rink. Skaters use a long handled stick to pass, carry and shoot the puck. The objective is to put the puck in the opposing team’s net through passing or individual skill shots. The team with the most goals at the end of play (three periods of 20 minutes each) wins.
Youth hockey programs are common worldwide, and many children grow up playing street hockey year round. Some youth players transition into organized travel or club teams as they get older; other players stay with youth leagues for years before high school or college play.
Just to clarify, there are 11 players on the ice in professional play, while high school and college games usually have 6 to 7 players per side. Here in this article, I’ll be referring to the 6-a-side version of the game.
What are the different types of hockey?
Ice hockey is divided into major categories based on level of play. There are separate leagues for each level, so it’s harder to move up or down than other sports. The NHL is the top tier professional league, with additional junior leagues for players 18 years old and younger.
Some of the common types of hockey include:
Minor Hockey (4 to 14 years old, usually played on outdoor rinks)
Junior Hockey (15 to 20 years old) College Hockey (At 4 year universities in USA) Professional Ice Hockey (Athletes in the NHL represent countries from around the world, and play in a variety of North American cities. Some junior players will eventually be drafted into the NHL.) Adult League Hockey / Adult Travel League / Men’s League / Beer league hockey (Informal leagues run by local businesses or organizations, for adult players of all levels. There are often co-ed teams, and divisions for different skill levels. All players pay a fee per game, and often compensation is given to the winning team.)
Other types of hockey
Besides ice hockey, there is also field hockey as well as roller hockey – both very interesting variants of the well known sport. Field hockey is played with 22 people (11 people in each team) on grass. The game lasts one hour and consists of four 15min periods between which are small breaks. The game goes pretty much the same way as ice hockey does, except the players run and don’t wear skates.
Roller hockey is played with roller skates instead of ice skates in teams of 5 players. This is basically the only major difference between this and other two types of hockey.