Did you know ice hockey has a “cousin” — ball hockey?
Both sports are revered across the world. Ice hockey is the national sport of Canada, and popular across Northern and Eastern Europe.
However, ball hockey is a bit more accessible. It doesn’t require ice and can be played anywhere there’s pavement. You don’t need ice skates or roller blades — the game is played on foot. Ball hockey is also excellent exercise that can provide quite the workout.
Breaking a sweat with ball hockey is a particularly good way to work out your core and lower body muscles, including your hamstrings, glutes, adductors, and quadriceps. Your strength and stamina will be tested. Ball hockey will help you maintain flexibility as well — and of course, quick reflexes and hand-eye coordination as you maneuver the ball with your stick.
Yet in spite of its many benefits, ball hockey is not quite as popular as other sports, perhaps because it is younger and its relative, ice hockey, has a longer history with organized, professional leagues in North America.
Still, if you’re looking for a new sport or an adrenaline-pumping workout, and you don’t want to bother with ice skates, ball hockey may be for you. Read on to learn all about it.
A Brief History of Ball Hockey
Ball hockey originated in the mid-20th century as the game of ice hockey was adapted outside the rink by innovators such as Samuel Perry Jacks.
Eventually, several governing bodies emerged to organize and structure competitive ball hockey leagues. These include the International Street and Ball Hockey Federation (ISBHF), The World Ball Hockey Federation, and the Canadian Ball Hockey Association.
The Rules of Ball Hockey
Over time, ball hockey has evolved a distinct style of play. First, the game is played with a specially designed, low-bounce orange ball. Players compete to knock the ball into the opponent’s net, similar to ice hockey. Most non-slip surfaces are used for play. These typically include gyms, dry pads, tennis courts, and concrete.
Just like ice hockey, protective gear is mandatory. This includes hockey gloves, helmets, and special padding.
What Muscles Benefit from Ball Hockey?
If there’s one word that describes hockey, it’s explosive. Beginners often see impressive gains when it comes to endurance and cardiovascular health.
Here are just some of the muscles you’ll work during a game of ball hockey:
Ball hockey requires frequent spurts of running. It’s a great workout for your glutes — the largest muscles in your body. These include the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus muscles, as well as the tensor fascia latae in your thighs.
While core muscles play a huge role when it comes to ball hockey, it’s really those lower-body muscles that maintain your balance and motion during ball hockey games. Each session will challenge your speed and stamina.
Right below the glutes are your hamstrings. Ball hockey’s constant forward and backward movements — any time you move or bend your hips and knees — are all made possible by your hamstrings. Hamstring curls can make you much less prone to injury and improve the strength of this key muscle group.
Your quads are made up of the vastus intermedius, rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, and vastus medialis muscles. These are responsible for knee extension and flexion.
Core strength is a must if you want to play your best. Core muscles such as the rectus abdominis and transversus abdominis, and your obliques are both used during ball hockey.
In addition to your abs, the extensor muscles of your back help stabilize your core area. During ball hockey games, these muscles maintain stability for your hips and lower back.
How to Get Started with Ball Hockey
Over time, ball hockey is an excellent way to build endurance and power — and perhaps more importantly, it’s also a lot of fun. Here are a few tips to get started:
Yes, you technically need just a stick, a net, and a ball, but you may want to go beyond these basics.
Make sure you have good shoes with proper ankle support and good grip, since you’ll be moving side to side, sprinting, coming to quick stops, and changing directions frequently. You don’t want to roll your ankle or slip and fall on a slippery court surface. Many players use basketball shoes or cross trainers for this reason.
In terms of protective equipment, you may want a helmet with a face shield, durable gloves, and shin guards. You may also want to consider elbow and knee pads.
Condition, Condition, Condition
A typical player can expect to burn hundreds of calories in one game. If you want to keep up with the team, be prepared for a lot of quick, short bursts of intense running. If you worry that you’re not exactly in shape, put in some time running on the treadmill, local track, or just around your neighborhood.
Start with the Basics
ISBHF is a great starting point when it comes to learning the official rules of ball hockey and all the ins and outs of the sport. In British Columbia, the BC Ball Hockey Association is another good resource for learning more and connecting with a league. Lace up your sneakers and get playing!