Want to start playing hockey in Seattle? You’re in good company. USA Hockey memberships have grown in Washington since 2003. For both adult and youth leagues, more people are playing hockey than ever before and we can expect more players to join when the Seattle NHL team starts ramping up.
There are a lot of barriers to playing hockey (the biggest being the hefty up-front cost) but as a new player who just finished her first hockey season last month, I wanted to write up a little primer for anyone who might be interested learning to play hockey in Seattle.
If you love the hockey, want an intense workout, and are eager to learn the game from another perspective, definitely consider giving hockey a try! Let me give you some tips on how to get started.
Step 1: Learn to Skate
Don’t let the ice skating scare you away! Skating is easier than it looks. If you’ve ever been on roller blades, you can learn to skate. Just make sure to keep your knees bent and you’ll be fine.
You don’t need to have NHL power skating skills to play hockey in Seattle. Beginners should learn how to turn and how to stop (without using the wall) before joining a team. Beyond that, you’ll get better at skating as you get more ice time. What better way to get more ice time than playing hockey?
If you’d like a little more guidance, most local ice rinks have “Learn to Skate” programs that will teach the basics for about 8-10 weeks. Learn to Skate classes cost about $100-150 depending on the number of classes.
Some beginning players also hire private hockey coaches to help them get a leg up on their skating skills. The hourly rates for these coaches vary but you can generally expect $65-90 per hour for private lessons.
Step 2: Get Your Gear
Once you’ve managed to stop on ice skates, it’s time to start collecting your gear. For hockey you’ll need (in order of importance):
- Shin pads
- Elbow pads
- Hockey stick
- Hockey pants
- Chest protector
- Hockey socks
- Stick tape
- (Optional) Clear Tape
- (Optional) Neck guard
This is a lot of equipment and, not going to lie, it can add up. Hockey is a notoriously expensive sport and the upfront cost of equipment contributes to this. For a full set of equipment, expect to spend $500-$1500 depending on how much of your gear is used or new.
The good news is, as an adult, you won’t be growing out of your gear anytime soon.
Play it Again in Lynnwood regularly sells hockey gear and most rinks sell gear as well. Another option for all your hockey gear needs it to take a day trip up to Canada. Sporting good stores in Vancouver and Victoria have much more of a selection than any shop in the Seattle area.
* Editors Note: After years of spending massive amounts of money on equipment I have learned a couple places that can help you keep the costs down. First search Cragislist... you may even find someone willing to ship to you. Second, you can find awesome deals at Sideline Swap. Have fun! - Doug
Step 3: Join a Team
You’ve practiced your basic skating skills and you’ve gotten your gear, now you need to find a team. Luckily, Seattle already has a solid foundation when it comes to adult hockey leagues.
There are three major adult leagues in Seattle: Greater Seattle Hockey League, Sno-King Adult Hockey, and the Seattle Women’s Hockey Club.
Greater Seattle Hockey League
The Greater Seattle Hockey League (GSHL) is the largest adult hockey league in the Seattle area. (Disclosure: The author is a member of the GSHL.)
Seasons: Fall/Winter (September - April), Summer (May - August)
Rinks: Olympic View Arena, Kent Valley Ice Center, ShoWare Center, Xfinity Arena, Lynnwood Ice Center, Angel of the Winds Arena (Fun fact: GSHL used to play games in the Tacoma Dome and the Key Arena.)
Join the League: New players are drafted in to existing teams at evaluation skates before the season starts. For complete newbies, there’s also a Learn to Play class held twice a year.
For more information, contact Andy Cole at email@example.com.
Sno-King Adult Hockey League (SKAHL)
The Sno-King Adult Hockey League (SKAHL) is an adult league based out of Renton and Kirkland, a good option for those on the east side.
Seasons: Fall/Winter (September - April), Summer (April - August)
Rinks: Sno-King Renton, Sno-King Kirkland
Join the League: The SKAHL runs a Learn to Play Hockey program twice a year and offers rental gear for new players who are taking the class.
For more information, contact Sno-King at FAQ@snokinghockeyleague.com.
Seattle Women’s Hockey Club (SWHC)
The Seattle Women’s Hockey Club is a women-only hockey club based in the north Seattle area. When registering, players can choose between a full-league membership or a practice-only membership.
Seasons: Fall/Winter (September - April)
Rinks: Olympic View Arena (Practices), Sno-King Arena in Kirkland (Games)
Join the League: Before each season, players participate in early skates to create teams based on skill level. All skill levels welcome. The SWHC offers a Give Hockey A Try event every summer where women 18 years of age or older can try hockey for free.
For more information, contact SWHC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 4: Have Fun!
Playing hockey is always the highlight of my week. It’s a great way to relieve stress, get some exercise, and meet new people in Seattle. Who would have thought that to beat the notorious Seattle freeze, the answer might be on an ice rink?
And don’t forget, hockey is for everyone! In my experience, the Seattle hockey community is a very welcoming one. No matter who you are, or how old you are, it’s never too late to try something new.