11 Reasons To Play Roller

by Jake Kopitzke

It's no secret that players and families often choose to play ice hockey over roller because ice hockey is able to offer the potential of future opportunities, namely professional and collegiate play. We don't talk enough about the reasons why you might want to play roller hockey instead of ice. Here are eleven. 

1) Roller hockey doesn't have checking. As a result, your chances of getting chronic traumatic brain injuries as far lower than in ice hockey. Roller hockey is still an extremely fast sport, and there will always be the inherent risk of accidental collisions that result in concussions. However, that risk is exponentially increased when high speed collisions are an ingrained part of the rules of the sport. Luckily, roller doesn't have that aspect. 

2) Roller hockey is better at developing vision, patience, and creativity. The strategic culture of roller hockey has always been one of puck movement, constant cycling, and nearly "positionless" play. Without the constraints of icing and offsides, roller has become a possession dominated game. Without checking there is less opportunity to physically dominate other players. Therefore, the players that excel at the highest levels of roller hockey are able to do so specifically because they are able to think they game at a higher level than others. One of the main ways to look at the difference in ice systems versus roller systems, is that roller coaches trust their players to be able create high danger chances. While, ice coaches often rely on high quantity-low quality scoring chance systems. 

3) The lack of checking forces players to become extremely clean and technical defenders, that do not take many penalties. 

4) Roller has smaller teams, with fewer lines. This means that you will get more playing time in a wider variety of situations. While you are allowed to roster 12 players and 2 goalies, most teams usually bring 8 players and 1 goalie. In roller, it is much less common for teams to have lines and players that exclusively play special teams. It is far more common that every player on the roster is expected to be called on to make a contribution in any situation at any time. 

5) Roller hockey is much cheaper than ice in every single aspect. Roller hockey has cheaper rink time, season fees, tournament fees, and equipment. 

6) Roller hockey has less equipment, making it more comfortable and affordable to play. One of the largest barriers to entry to any kind of hockey is the cost of equipment. The cost of equipment only balloons as children outgrow their equipment. With less pieces of equipment to replace, roller hockey is a cheaper sport to maintain. 

7) Roller hockey is a tight knit community that largely takes place at mom and pop rinks that have been around for two decades or more. The roller hockey world itself is a community, where everyone seems to know one another and has probably played together at some point. 

8) One of the difficult realties of checking in youth ice hockey is that some kids will hit puberty earlier than others. Ice hockey currently structures youth hockey based on age, which results in games where some kids are nearly twice the size of other kids on the rink. Checking in these situations can be punishing for smaller, later developing players. Many of these players end up leaving the sport because they don't enjoy coming to the rink anymore. Maybe someday ice hockey will adjust youth divisions to reflect weight classes, the way that football has done for decades. 

9) Parents don't need to invest in winter clothes in order to watch the games. Instead of frozen warehouses, you're more likely to visit the sun locales of Southern California and Florida. 

10) Roller hockey has less organizational structure than ice hockey does. While that has it's drawbacks, one of the benefits is that roller has fewer political dynamics that prevent deserving kids from getting opportunities than ice does. Ice hockey is very entrenched. It's not uncommon to know or hear stories about kids that deserved a shot at the next level but weren't able to get there because they didn't know the right people. 

11) Roller hockey is more fun!