Get Inspired: ICE HOCKEY

Ignore the blood-and-guts reputation.

Ice hockey is a full-contact sport - one of the most popular in North America, especially Canada - but also one demanding pace, agility, poise, vision and finesse.

The game has a strong British following and a number of leagues operated across the UK.

Hockey, as it's known across the Atlantic, made its Olympic debut at the Summer Games of 1920 before becoming a constant feature of the Winter Olympics from 1924.

Why is it good for you?

Ice hockey is the ultimate in interval training. The sport uses 'lines' of players, meaning you and your line of team-mates take to the ice for only a minute or so at a time before switching with fresher sets of legs, in a series of rolling substitutions.

That means you can give everything for 60 seconds, then take a breather ready to go again. Even at lower levels of the sport, you can expect to burn around 500 calories an hour in a game, with an elevated heart rate throughout.

To become successful in hockey you'll learn to skate quickly, developing upper-body strength and balance. And while ice hockey can be dangerous, players are equipped with considerable levels of protective padding and helmets.

Get involved

There are a number of ways to get involved with ice hockey in the UK. You could start by watching your local Elite League  team, spread across cities in all four home nations.

If you want to begin playing, the English Ice Hockey Association  has a comprehensive club index  which features a list of facilities and clubs within England. Scottish Ice Hockey  provides a similar service north of the border. There are a range of women's teams playing in leagues across the UK.

History

Great Britain

Great Britain facing Sweden at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Olympics, Bavaria, Germany.

The McGill University Hockey Club, formed in 1880s Canada, became the first recognised ice hockey club as the sport established itself in North America.

The Great Britain men's Olympic team have a chequered history. Despite being one of the founder members of the International Ice Hockey Foundation, they have struggled to make an impact on the sport in recent years. Their last Olympic medal came in 1936, when they won gold in Germany.