I talk a lot about learning to play hockey as an adult, but it can be especially intimidating to learn to play hockey if you are a woman. Hockey is a male-dominated sport, but it has been growing for women in recent years. If you are beginner hockey player, here are some tips for getting started in beer league hockey.

Everyone has to start somewhere

In my experience, the majority (I would say 98 percent) of women I know who are learning to play hockey for the first time are doing so because either their significant other or child plays, and they want to try it out. So if you are thinking it is going to be too difficult for you, just know that many other beginners are in the same boat as you: brand new to this sport and potentially not athletes in any other way.

The best way to get started playing hockey as a woman is to just get out there and do it.

There is no judgment

One of the best things about women’s hockey, especially if you are starting later in life, is that women are very supportive. Co-ed beginner beer league hockey leagues can also be supportive, because everyone is in the same boat there too — but I have found that women are especially supportive.

When I first learned to play, I joined a women’s team that had every level of player, from beginner to former pros. So I was scared. But I got out there, and people told me where to stand, what rules I needed to know, and how to get through a game.

Since then, in different towns I have lived in, I have found that women are generally very supportive while you are out on the ice and in the locker room.

Women’s and beginner hockey leagues

And speaking of women being supportive, joining hockey as a woman can be especially easy because in many towns, there will be a women’s-only league.

You may not have the best ice times and you may only have two teams, but it’s such a great way to get started and get over any nerves you may have. The skill levels will vary more than a beginner league, but in my experience, the more experienced players want to help everyone get better.

If you live in a town that does not have a women’s league, look for a Beginner Adult Development (BAD) league. These leagues are co-ed and are for brand new hockey players. So even though there are men and women, everyone is on the exact same level.

Hockey equipment

Hockey equipment is probably the trickiest part of learning to play hockey, because it’s not cheap to get everything you need to get out on the ice.

My recommendation is always to call your rink and see if they have hockey gear you can use when you first start playing. Many rinks have gear they can lend you for a short amount of time, because you don’t want to spend all that money if you decide eventually that it’s just not for you.

Once you have played a few times and decide you love the game, you can start buying all the things you need.

Learn more about hockey equipment you will need.

You will meet the nicest group of people

When I first decided to start playing hockey, I had a preconceived notion of what women’s hockey players would be like. I expected a lot of fine-tuned athletes, all young and experienced. And although you do get a lot of these, you also have every other type of woman out there: mothers, grandmothers, athletes, non-athletes, 20-year-olds, 80-year-olds, and everything else you can imagine.

It is such an amazing mix of women, and because it’s so varied, you will fit right in, no matter who you are.

Get over your fear of getting injured

Hockey is a very physical sport, and so many beginner adult hockey players think there is a high level of injury. If you’re worried, there are a few things to think about:

This is not the NHL

In most every adult hockey league, there is no checking and no hitting. The sport is physical, but mostly because of the amount of skating you will do.

You are padded

Once you put on all your hockey gear, you will realize how much padding you have on. For me, falling very rarely hurts because you have padding pretty much everywhere.

It depends on what shape you are in

Obviously starting any sport while being out of shape is a risk for anyone. But even if you are out of shape, getting out and skating will build your physical skills very quickly. The more you get out there, the better shape you will be in.

Fears of playing in a male dominated sport

It can be scary to join a male-dominated sport, especially one that is as physical as hockey is. And if you live in a town without a women’s league or BAD league, it can be especially intimidating. Reach out to your local rink and find out what your options are as a brand new player. If you are brand new, there is a good chance that others are looking to learn to play hockey as well.

If you are playing in a co-ed league, you may be worried about locker rooms — many rinks these days have women’s-only locker rooms. But if they do not, I have found men tend to be very respectful if there are women in their locker room.

Read all about hockey locker room etiquette.

Getting out there and doing it

My best advice I can give anyone looking to start playing hockey as an adult is to just get out there and do it. Because if you don’t, you probably never will. Get yourself to your very first practice or game, because once you do, your fears about what it is and if you are right for it will be answered and you will just be one of the other players out there.