When To Start Skating
Many kids dream of becoming a professional player in their favourite sport when growing up, and hockey is no different. However, the chances of that happening are slim for most of us. It takes a lot of work, determination and some luck to reach that goal. To make a great hockey player, one thing that sets some apart from others is at what age they may have learned to start skating. So let’s take a look at what age most NHL players learned to skate?
On average, NHL players start skating at around three or four years old. However, some of them began later, between five to seven years old. A rare few even got a much later start and only started skating when they were teenagers.
As with learning any other skill, it is better to start skating younger, as it gives you more time to work on your skills. Most sports teams recruit young adults, which means that you will have more experience if you start skating at a younger age.
Even though some NHL players like to point out that they were skating before they could walk, most of them start at the age of three or four, before they began the actual game of hockey. This is because focusing on the single skill of skating makes it easier to pick up the other components of hockey when they are a bit older.
Another reason for learning to skate before joining the actual sport of hockey is because most teams don’t let anyone younger than five years old play. This is because most children that start hockey before they are physically and mentally ready will probably have a negative experience.
Not all NHL players started skating young. Some of them waited until they were teens or almost teens, such as Yvon Lambert, who started at 14, Bep Guidon, who started at 13, Joe Mullen started at 10, and Ed Jovanovski at 11 years old.
Many NHL players started their hockey careers early by joining the local minor hockey associations in their hometowns. As mentioned, most minor hockey leagues have a minimum age restriction of five years old to play.
Anston Carter is an NHL player that started playing at eight years old. That didn’t stop him from securing a scholarship to Michigan State University by the time he was 18 years old. There he recorded 178 points through four seasons.
Daniel Cleary started playing minor hockey at five years old. In his professional career, he played 41 games with the Blackhawks, and then he was traded to the Edmond Oilers. He played in Sweden during the 2004 lockout and won a Stanley Cup during his next ten seasons.
Dominik Hasek, arguably one of the best goaltenders of all-time, started playing at the age of five and didn’t even have real skates for his initial tryouts. He had a type of blade that would screw into the soles of shoes so that he could skate. Because he was tall, and because the team of nine-year-olds didn’t have a goalie, he ended up playing for them.
He came to North America when he was 25 years old and became a star at 29. He was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 10th round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. He ended up playing only twenty-five games for them before being traded off to the Buffalo Sabres. He was enlisted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.
Zdeno Chara could barely skate backwards when he was drafted in 1996. He played in 25 games for the New York Islanders just a year after he was drafted. He was traded to Ottawa Senators before the 2001 season and became a frightening force on their blue line. He has 597 points in 1,291 career games.
Martin St. Louis put on his first pair of skates when he was three years old and was playing hockey within a few years. He was signed by the Flames after he completed a four-year collegiate career at the University of Vermont with 267 points.
During the three seasons he spent with them, St. Louis played in 69 games, collecting 20 points. He was unsigned before the 2000-01 season. That’s when the Tampa Bay Lighting offered him the opportunity to succeed. He finished his career with 1,033 points in 1,134 games and is likely going to be joining the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Jaromir Jagr began skating at the young age of three and discovered an incredible interest and desire to play the game. At 44 years old, he led the Florida Panthers in scoring the season with 66 points. He wants to play until he is 50 years old, and given his work ethics, it is possible that he will.
If you want to be a professional player, you should start hockey as soon as possible. Even before starting to play the game of hockey, it makes sense to learn how to skate to get an early head start. This could take place between the ages of three and four. It is not advised to begin playing hockey before the age of 5 because it can lead to negative experiences if the child is not ready for the sport.
When learning how to skate, you should focus on balance because it is an essential aspect of hockey. It would be best if you also built up your endurance. A hockey game consists of three 20-minute blocks of play with breaks in between. Sometimes it can happen that a game lasts longer, and you have to make sure you can handle that.
Even though practicing in a team is good, you can’t only rely on that if you want to make it to NHL. It would help if you practiced on your own, as well as with a team, because that way, you can focus on getting better in some aspects of hockey that you need more practice with.
You can either join a recreational team or a competitive team, and while a recreational team is an excellent place to start, competitive teams are better in the long run. They have longer practices and more advanced and experienced players and coaches, so you can learn from them and get better.
The age that is too late for hockey depends on whether you want to be a professional player or if you want hockey to be your hobby.
If the goal is to be a professional player, any age between 5 and 13 is an excellent time to start. However, it likely makes sense to get some skating lessons before joining a hockey team.
If a child is showing an interest in hockey at a young age, there is no need for them to wait until they are older to start. It isn’t too late if a child discovers a passion for hockey in their teens, but that means that it will probably take them more passion and dedication to reach their goals.
If the goal is to pursue hockey as a hobby, it’s never too late. It doesn’t matter if you are 20 or 50 years old as long as you are in good physical shape and physically able to take the demands of playing the game.
To learn hockey, you need to buy hockey skates. Buying the ones that fit well will enhance your experience immensely. Buy skates for beginners and not for professionals, because the professional ones are more difficult to break into and much more stiff. It is easier to learn basic movements such as starting, stopping, and turning in more comfortable skates.
Start with a good skating stance, bending your knees and squatting while keeping your weight at the center of your feet. If you are skating upright, the style will hinder you when you get the stick into your hands and start playing the game.
As you start testing your skills in pick-up games, you should buy the necessary equipment, such as a helmet, mouthguard, elbow and shoulder pads, gloves, athletic cup, hockey pants, shin guards, and so on.
To get a better feel for hockey as a beginner, play different types of games, such as ball hockey, inline, or street hockey.
There is no way to estimate how long it takes to learn to skate well for hockey, as some people will find it more manageable, and others will have a more challenging time. If you’re having difficulty learning to skate and play hockey, don’t give up right away because all beginnings take work, determination and patience.