5 ways to enjoy the sport after hanging up your skates
Real talk: Hockey is not a “forever” sport. You don’t hear about too many 70-year-olds lacing up and ripping slapshots across the ice. Kudos to those who do.
For most of us, hockey is a physically exhausting sport. We move through the stages, but eventually the sport takes its toll on our bodies. Inevitably there comes a day when we must hang up the skates and accept life after hockey, regardless of our skill level as players.
Still, our passion for hockey never fades. So how do we continue to stay involved with the sport we love after our playing days come to an end? The good news is there are more options than ever. Here are five ways former hockey players can satisfy their hockey cravings once those old jerseys are moved to the back of the closet.
Try Your Hand at Coaching
Becoming a hockey coach is probably the most obvious way to enjoy life after hockey after your playing days are over. You may be surprised at the number of coaching opportunities that abound. There’s a fit for every lifestyle and availability, depending on how much time and energy you’re willing to commit.
Do you only have the weekends free to coach? Maybe there’s a rec league at your local rink that meets on Saturdays and Sundays. Check out opportunities in the youth hockey leagues if you have more time to devote to coaching at a competitive level. And then there is high school varsity hockey and travel hockey. You could even get paid for coaching if you’re ready to accept the increased responsibility.
USA Hockey is a great place to start your coaching journey. This organization offers a comprehensive Coaching Education program and certification.
Players and coaches all have a love/hate relationship with refs. As the on-ice authorities, they can make the game go your way or burn you with a bad call.
Refs are a necessary part of the game and big hockey supporters at the end of the day. Does that sound like you? Just like coaches, referees are needed at every level of hockey. USA Hockey is again your place to start for referee work in the US. Their officiating course includes a 50-question online exam, a classroom officiating seminar, and continuing education modules.
Play Fantasy Hockey
Fantasy sports are an insanely popular way for fans to follow their favorite teams and players throughout the season. And hockey is no exception.
There are many free and paid fantasy league websites. The leagues offered by Yahoo and Frantrax get rave reviews. You can also organize a fantasy league among your hockey-loving friends.
The standard league format calls for 20 teams of between 15 and 18 players. Six of the players must occupy the bench at all times. Fantasy managers rotate active players with bench players on a daily or weekly basis. Active players score points for your team relative to how they perform in any of 30 statistical categories.
Place NHL Wagers
Hockey fans get to experience the excitement of the professional league when betting on NHL games, an option that’s becoming widely available across the US. Currently, residents in 13 states are permitted to wager on hockey, and other states are preparing to do the same. So the number of places accepting NHL bets is likely to grow in 2020.
Hockey betting allows players to put their knowledge to the test on a wide range of wagers, including moneylines, puck lines, totals, and period lines. It’s a fun way to enjoy life after hockey.
Become a Hockey Blogger or Podcaster
Starting a hockey blog or podcast is a great option for those who enjoy talking about the sport. You no longer have to work for ESPN or write for the New York Times to get your message out. Thanks to the internet, everyone has access to an audience.
You can get super specific about your hockey coverage. In the blogging and podcasting worlds this is called “finding your niche.” Do you know everything there is to know about the Calgary Flames? Great! You could run a Flames blog. Maybe you’re an expert on rising talent in the Swedish Hockey League. There’s your niche. You get the idea.
The only limit to blog and podcast topics is your imagination. In fact, you don’t even need to launch your own blog or podcast. You can be a guest on someone else’s established platform.
Life after hockey need not be the end of the world. There are so many ways you can keep involved in the sport without having to lace them up. See for yourself.