Hockey gets a bad rap for being a rough, knock-down, drag-out, fight-filled sport. And in the big leagues, it can be, which makes for great entertainment. But it also can be a great family activity this winter while temperatures are cold. No body checks required.
It provides great exercise, and a little family competition is always fun. But if you've never played hockey, you may be intimidated by the sport. Don't be. Here's all you need to know to host a friendly family ice hockey game:
Obviously you need ice, sturdy and safe ice. But how do you know if a pond is really frozen? According to experts, you need at least four inches of solid ice to support humans. Drilling is the best way to tell if it's safe, but checking for things like cracks or open water spots is also advised. Always have someone else around when testing ice, and make sure there's rescue equipment -- like water rescue throw bags -- nearby just in case.
Skates, hockey sticks, and pucks are all great, but you can also improvise with other equipment if you don't have all that. Tennis rackets and a ball can be just as fun. No net? Just put down a string to mark "the goal." Helmets are always a good idea.
Anything goes, really. You can play by official NHL rules or just make up your own. The important thing is to set them before you start playing, so everyone knows what goes and what doesn't.
Don't forget the most important part -- the food. Thermoses filled with hot chocolate and soup are great, as are granola bars and other foods in wrappers that can be easily consumed while wearing gloves.
Have you ever played hockey with your family? What tips do you have?
Image via dsearls/Flickr