Sledge Hockey is also known as the Para Ice Hockey by the International Paralympic Committee. It is also known by two other names, viz., Ice Sledge Hockey or as the United States of America likes to call it, Sled Hockey.
Sledge Hockey is an outdoor sport usually meant for the physically disabled persons who cannot play the original form of hockey due to the disability in the lower part of their body Importance of Sports. This sport came into being in Stockholm of Sweden in the early 1960s and was first played at a rehabilitation center. It is now the most popular game of the Winter Paralympic Games. In 2018 Winter Paralympic Game, USA won the gold medal/trophy, Canada won the Silver medal/trophy and Korea won the Bronze medal/trophy. The Paralympic Winter Game is played at an interval of 4 years. The previously known Ice Sledge Hockey has been rebranded and named the Para Ice Hockey in 2016.
Gears Required for the Sledge Hockey
Since Sledge Hockey is played on ice, there is a requirement of gears for the sport. Here is the total list of all the gears or equipment that one would need in order to indulge oneself in the sport.
- Sledge – Sledge is the most important part of the Sledge Hockey sport as it helps one to slide and glide on the ice. The sledge is made up of 80 cm long aluminum or steel material and has a curved front end with a seating system known as the bucket. On two blades, the sledge is set on which are made of 3 millimeters thick tempered steel. The length of the blade is not more than one-third of the sledge. An ideal sledge has a height between 8.5 cm to 9.5 cm above the ice layer. A sledge comes with straps that secure a player’s feet, ankles, knees, and hips to the sledge. The sledge is so made that the puck can pass through the gap underneath the sledge.
- Puck – In the real hockey or golf, a ball is used for playing the game. Similarly, in Sledge Hockey, a puck substitutes the ball. A puck is a vulcanized rubber in general. There are other pucks that are made of some other approved material. The thickness of a puck is 2.54 centimeters while the diameter of the puck is 7.62 centimeters and weighs between 156 and 170 grams.
- Stick – The stick is another important gear of Sledge Hockey as it is used to support and move the puck to make a goal. In this type of sport, two sticks are used. In one of the end, a hooked blade is present for the handling of the puck and shooting ambidextrously. In the other end of the stick, the stick is modified into a pick. The sticks are made up of carbon fiber or fiberglass and are 1 meter in length. Generally, blades have 32 cm length except for the goaltender’s blade, which has a length of 39 cm at the maximum. The pick end might just damage the ice layer or might just hurt any other player during the game session. To avoid such emergencies, some rules are followed while manufacturing the sticks of Sledge Hockey. The first and the foremost is that the picks or the teeth portion of the sticks do not come is sharp pointed ends. A basic rule needs to be maintained for the stick pick length which must not exceed 1 cm. The pick must have a 4mm length of minimum 6 teeth. For goaltender picks, he or she might have a stick with picks at both the end.
- Protective Gear – Safety in any sport is the prime lookout and should be. Therefore, protective gear comes in handy in this. The protective gear set comprises of the helmet (with a protective cage or a mask), protective padding, shoulder padding, shin guards, elbow pads and large padded gloves (a catcher glove and a blocker gloves). Protective gear must be included in the Sledge Hockey
- Warm Clothing – Another important thing one would ever need while playing Sledge Hockey is warm clothing. A warm breathable jacket with breathable tights is what one should wear during the sport. This will ensure protection from the cold as the sport is an outdoor sport played in ice skating rink or frozen pond.
How to Play Sledge Hockey
If this is the first time you are playing Sledge Hockey, then this how to play section will definitely help you. Sledge Hockey is played on ice skating rink or a frozen pond. There are two teams involved in a single game. Each team consists of six players of which one is the goaltender or a goalie. The players sit on their respective sledges and propel themselves using the sticks across the ice. The sticks have a curved blade like the usual hockey stick that helps to move the puck. The teeth in the opposite direction of the metal blade help in the propulsion and steering. The main focus of the teams is to score a goal in the opponent’s net. At the end of three periods, the team with the maximum number of goals win the match.
Here we reach the end of the Sledge Hockey session. Though the sport is made for the physically disabled persons, yet it has taken up the best position in the Winter Paralympic Games and is played by normal people as well. Sledge Hockey has been played in the other seasons of Winter Paralympic Games. The USA has won the gold in the last three consecutive seasons of Winter Paralympic Games that have taken place in the years 2018, 2014 and 2010. In 2002 also, USA won the gold in the Winter Paralympic Games. Para Ice Hockey or Sledge Hockey has not been an official sport until the Lillehammer Paralympic Winter Games held in the year 1994.
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