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Learning to Play Hockey

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The major challenge when learning to play hockey is finding a place to play. Your first problem is locating a large enough patch of safe, solid ice. Outdoor play is limited to no more than 5 months per year (normally November through March) in the northern U.S. and in Canada. Nighttime temperatures must be under freezing and daytime temperatures cannot rise too much beyond it, especially not for extended periods.

If your area is cold enough in winter, and if you have nearby ponds and lakes where the local authorities permit skating and hockey, you might be able to learn through true pickup games. However, this is not a realistic option for the vast majority of potential players.

Instead, generations of hockey players have learned the game through formal instruction and play on rinks, either outdoor or indoor. Rinks are owned and operated either by municipalities or by private for-profit enterprises. You have to pay to play, and use of the rink normally is reserved well in advance. Spontaneous decisions to arrange pickup games thus are not realistic. Some rinks do indeed accommodate pickup games, but in pre-scheduled time slots commonly called "open hockey."

Moreover, open hockey typically is restricted to players aged 18 and over.

This said, the best way to learn to play hockey is to enroll in a hockey camp. Once you've learned to play, you may consider setting up a backyard ice rink if you have the space and want extra practice time.

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