Sunday was one of the most inspiring days I have had in awhile. All my life I have been a hockey fan. Depending upon where I have lived, I have either been embraced or mocked over the years. But, the other day the entire continent watched and held their collective breaths during the USA vs. Canada gold medal game.
The game had a lot of significance for me personally, but what I can’t stop thinking about is the kids that may have watched it and will now start begging their parents to take them to an ice rink to feel what it’s like to move their bodies so fast and fluid on a surface that most people are terrified to even walk on.
I equally look forward to the adult populations embracing the game as their own. See, about three years ago I had never set foot on an ice rink. I was a great fan of the sport, but didn’t know how to skate or anything else related to the game. Maybe there is someone out there that was waiting for inspiration to hit before giving the sport, and Sunday was that inspiration. For you, I am going to recap what you can expect to pay to get yourself started down a career on the ice. (Please note: these are the costs associated with adult ice hockey – for youth ice hockey you are going to need to find someone with kids)
There is always the debate of whether to buy used or new equipment when starting up a new sport. I would typically say go used, but hockey equipment can get quite funky and you want items that are the right size. Everything listed here can be purchased used, however I would stay away from used skates. They are far too crucial for you not to have something that perfectly fits and is molded to your feet.
- Ice skates – $80-$300 (if you are just starting out you don’t need top of the line skates, but not getting a really cheap pair can be worth the investment)
- Helmet w/ a cage – $80-$130
- Shoulder pads – $50-$100
- Elbow pads – $30-$60
- Gloves – $30-$100
- Hockey pants – $60-$100
- Shin guards – $40-$100
- Hockey Jock (for men or women) – $30-$40
- Hockey socks – $10
- Practice jersey – $20
- Hockey stick – $30-$150 (you will need to have two with you at all times as these expensive numbers do break. For me, I refuse to pay more than $80 a quality stick)
- Clear tape – $3 a roll (this is to tap up your pads for a more snug fit, expect to go through a lot of this, but you can buy in bulk online.
- Cloth tape – $3 a roll (this is to wrap the handle and blade of your stick)
- Mouth guard – $20 (most people don’t wear one in recreational hockey)
- Water bottle – $5 or find one for free
- Skate sharpening – $8 (you will need to get your skates sharpened every few games at most or every few month at least)
- Hockey bag – $40-$60 (need to hold your gear somehow)
It’s important to get out and practice often until you feel comfortable on your skates. There are three different types of skates you can go to for ice time.
- Public skate – $5-$8 (open to the public, can be pretty crowded and you aren’t going to be wearing pads or carrying a stick)
- Stick and puck – $10-$12 (this session is for hockey players that want to work on things like stick handling, shooting, skating, etc. without having to play in a game)
- Pick-up games – $10-$15 (you will actually have a chance to scrimmage at these sessions)
While the equipment is expensive, the league fees aren’t cheap either, but no athletic hobbies (golf, etc) are all that cheap. As a guy that plays on two teams and loves every minute of it, the cost is ABSOLUTELY worth it.
Expect to pay anywhere from $300-$550 for a full length winter season. The price will depend greatly on your geographic area. If you live in the north where there are more rinks, more available ice time and more competition, you can expect to pay a little less.
Be on the lookout for beginner leagues that may offer special rates if you have never played before. Also, don’t be intimidates. If you join a team you will make some great friends and likely you will be matched with people of a similar skill level.
Some other things to consider
If you have a family, there are significant time commitments to playing hockey. If your significant other works and you have kids, expect to pay for babysitters often.
One of the most often forgotten costs is that you will likely need to bring a case of beer once or twice throughout the season. Think back to when you were a little kid and you brought orange slices to your soccer games. Well, as an adult, its beer to drink in the locker room or parking lot after the game.
Lastly, be sure to have a spot in your apartment or house where you can put your gear to dry after each skate/game. It’s important to air the gear out, it reduces the smell and makes the equipment last longer.
Is it worth it?
I spend over $1000 a year on hockey, and there was the initial investment of $1000 to get all of my equipment. With a resounding YES, I can say that the investment was absolutely worth it. I have never had more fun competing or working up a sweat in all my years of playing sports. It’s a challenge unlike any other, and the camaraderie is unparalleled to anything else you can experience in recreational sports. If you have the means and are thinking about starting your life as an adult hockey player, I can only wish you the best of luck and tell you that you will be glad you did.
For more information check out the following two sites and book: