When we first heard about Dek Hockey, it sounded like ice hockey without ice. You know, a few kids on each team suit up to move a hard plastic puck into a goal. Very close…..
Well, after speaking with Justin at Nassau-Suffolk Dek Hockey (who, by the way, answered all of my MANY questions), we headed over to the rink to catch a period first-hand and were blown away! Kids were running full speed and no contact! We had to learn more…
What’s the diff between ice, roller & dek hockey?
We all know ice hockey is played on ice. Roller hockey is played in roller blades on a smooth tile surface. Dek hockey is played on foot.
Meaning that kids wear running shoes instead of rollerblades or skates. The puck is in the form of a plastic ball, aka a dek hockey ball. The surface is covered with low-impact plastic to help prevent injuries when kids fall (a common occurrence in any sport).
NOTE: In case you’re imaging a heavy ball ala lacrosse, softball or baseball….Dek Hockey balls are hollow with a thin, plastic shell. They’re very lightweight, slightly heavier than the balls that your kids may have played with in a ball pit years ago.
One difference to be commended: Checking and fighting is strictly prohibited, resulting in minimal kids’ injuries.
Age & Timing
Girls and Boys can start playing Dek Hockey as young as 5 years old, and they play together. For the Suffolk County PAL, kids groups are divided into groups:
Squirts: 5-7 years old play three 15-minute periods with clock running
Pee wee: 8-10 years old play three 15-minute periods with clock running
Bantam: 11-13 years old play three 15-minute periods, the first two are with clock running, the last period becomes non-running. The clock is paused until the ref starts the clock again. Non-running periods can be much longer depending on the level of play.
If there are enough kids registered, they will split the divisions in half and create an “A” team and “B” team.
Junior League: 14-17 years old** play three 10-minute periods, non-running time and teams provide matching jerseys. **Junior League fees may be more expensive.
Depending on how many kids have registered, there may be two teams. Yes, the dreaded “A” team “B” team split! More on that another time…
Cost & What You Get For Your Money
Dek Hockey is relatively easy on the wallet. The start up costs are about $150 for the safety equipment, but that is reusable for many seasons. Season fees are about $150 for a season of about 7 weeks, including a weekly practice and game.
At Nassau-Suffolk Dek Hockey, players are required to wear a helmet with a full cage or shield, elbow pads, knee pads and gloves.Nassau Suffolk Dek hockey offers a package of all this gear for $165.00 and gear is reusable, so you’re not buying the same package every season.
Cool things: First, kids can use any stick they want. Though Nassau Suffolk offers an equipment package, kids can use their own stick that can made of any material. Second, goalies can wear their favorite team jersey. So don’t be surprised if you see a NY Ranger or NY Islander in goal.
If you’re looking to save some money, Play it Again Sports often has used safety gear (which we fully support – less stuff in the landfills!).
Nassau Suffolk PAL coaches are volunteers. For families looking for professional trainers, there are other teams across the Island that offer more competitive instruction.
Dek hockey is a competitive sport and there is a difference between kids that are just starting and kids that have been playing. That said, kids that come to the sport “later” (like, 12 or older) can usually catch up quickly, especially if they’ve played soccer, football or lacrosse since they are more conditioned.
Culture – kind or cutthroat?
You know, we’ve always heard about the hockey culture. Maybe it’s the early morning practices that bond parent and child forever, or something else). Dek hockey is no different.
While we were watching, the vibe was family-oriented with supportive cheering. Coaches were in control and so were the parents. Gotta love that!
Outside the rink there is a small playground set so younger kids can play, and to the right are two goals so kids can practice before a game.
Practices & Games
This is a rec league – so you’ll end up with a parent-run practice each week and one game on the weekend. As with other sports, we believe in introducing kids to sports through recreational leagues in order to learn the fundamentals in a lower pressure environment, as well as foster a love of the game.
Nevertheless, games can be competitive. Expect the usual fouls like off-sides and support your child with positive reinforcement. Once kids get a bit older and more accustomed to the sport, games can be more competitive.
Nassau Suffolk Dek Hockey offers 7 week sessions year round that include a ten-game season and team shirt. Most games are played on Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday with start times between 9am and 6pm. In July, they offer a 2-week outdoor camp.
Ready to try Dek Hockey? Search SCOUTjr.com for a Dek Hockey program near you, or post a review of a program that your family has participated in so families can learn from your experience.
p.s. would like to thank Justin at Nassau Suffolk PAL for all of the insights into this great sport.
ScoutJr.com was not compensated for this review.