25 July 2023
While it’s not one of the biggest sports in the UK, hockey has dedicated players of a variety of ages. In particular, children who get the opportunity to play hockey often love it. It’s exciting and fast-paced, and it’s commonly played by both boys and girls.
The kind of hockey commonly played in the UK is field hockey, with ice hockey being much less popular - perhaps due to a lack of suitable facilities, as it requires a sizable ice rink. Field hockey, on the other hand, can be played on a variety of surfaces - outdoors on grass or more commonly nowadays an artificial surface, or indoors in a hall. The game has some similarities with football (soccer), except that the players use sticks rather than their feet to control, pass and score with a smaller, more dense ball. There are 11 players, with the goalkeeper wearing a helmet and a lot of protective equipment to defend against fast-moving balls. Some schools play hockey as part of the sports curriculum, plus there are numerous hockey clubs around the country.
So, why is it so popular with kids?
Hockey is a fast-paced sport, with players passing the ball rapidly between themselves while trying to avoid it being intercepted by the opposing team’s players. Children learn how to think quickly and make strategic decisions and when their strategies pay off, they feel empowered and successful. Kids love to run fast, and hockey gives them plenty of chances to do this.
Playing field hockey requires coordination, balance, and motor skills, and it’s an excellent way to improve hand-eye coordination. With so many different positions and ways to handle the ball, hockey is a sport that lends itself to creativity and agility. For example, a player might try to run around a defender or make a pass through a narrow space. No matter their position, every player on the field has the opportunity to show off their individual skills and style.
Children love to feel like they’re part of something and valued by their peers, which they can get from being on a sports team. The team will train together and often socialise together after practice or matches too. They can make new friends and bond with them, while also learning how to work together, communicate and follow rules of good sportsmanship. These are valuable life skills they will find useful outside of hockey.
Simply put, kids like playing hockey because it’s fun. Having fun is one of the primary reasons why kids enjoy playing hockey. Hockey is a fast-paced and tactical sport that provides an opportunity to let out energy and compete with others. While winning is important to many young hockey players, the main focus is usually on having a good time. Playing with friends and classmates also increases the level of enjoyment for kids. They can bond over their love of the game and support each other on and off the field.
In a game of hockey, players are quite literally working towards the same goals. There’s a real sense of achievement to scoring a goal, or helping set up another player to score one. For the goalkeeper and defenders, they are successful when they prevent the other team’s players from scoring. The team gets to celebrate together if they win and their efforts are appreciated by their teammates, whatever the result. Children can see how much they’re improving their skills, which encourages them and improves their self-confidence.
So next time your child asks you to come to watch them play hockey, remember that there are some good reasons why they enjoy this sport so much. Hockey is a great sport for children of all ages. It's fast-paced and challenging but also social and teaches important life lessons.