|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
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