You’ve spent hours doing research online, you’ve bought all the necessary equipment, you’ve gone to a few camps and honed your skills; now it’s time to play some organized hockey. Where do you start, though? Well, the best place to start (and advance) is a local house or adult league.
What is a “house league”?
A “house league” is labeled as such because all games are played “in house”. In other words, there is no travel involved. A house league is a great for players of varying levels of age, skill and experience, as they are typically set up to encourage even-matched, competitive games. The goal is to help players develop their skills while gaining valuable in-game experience, all at an affordable price.
These leagues often encompass several age groupings, as well. This way, younger players can utilize the games to procure their on-ice weaknesses (as they advance through youth hockey programs), and adult players (some well past their prime) have an opportunity to quell their thirst for hockey. All of this said, it’s important that beginners choose the right league. While you don’t want to be blown out every night in a ten-game season, you want to avoid the opposite, as well. It’s no fun to get beat up on; that’s obvious. However, you’ll find that you don’t really learn much in doing the beating, either.
How do I choose a league that fits my skill level and experience?
House leagues are usually separated by A, B, and C leagues (or Gold, Silver, and Bronze, respectively). The A league (or Gold league) is typically reserved for players have a reasonable amount of playing experience (and the skills that come with it). If you’re just starting, you’ll want to hold off on joining an A league. This is your ultimate goal in the house league system (besides all of the goals that you score along the way!).
The B league (or Silver league) is for players of intermediate skill and experience. If you’ve literally just started playing, you won’t want to start in the B league. However, if you’ve spent a lot of time off ice developing your hockey skills, and you think you’re ready for intermediate competition, it can’t hurt to try the B league. You can always move to the C league, if need be.
Chances are, if you’re a true beginner, you’ll want to start in the C league (or Bronze league). Here, you’ll be able to play with and against fellow beginners – an environment that is sure to help you hone your in-game hockey and team skills. Coaches and/or teammates will help you develop these skills, providing instruction that you’ll come to value down the road. Remember, there is always opportunity to advance. If you find the competition to be a step down from ideal, you can always move up to the B league. If you are starting from scratch, you may want to review our previous post on how to join a beer league.
Becoming a better player and teammate
Remember, your goal in participating in a house league is not only to become a more complete player, but also a better teammate. In advancing through the leagues, you’ll make your way through many stages of the learning curve. In addition, you’ll meet a lot of great friends and coaches along the way. This is another great feature of in-house hockey – the community. In becoming part of this community, you’ll face many challenges. In the end, though, you’ll be better for it. Get out there and start playing!