Floorball An Easy Way To Bring The Game To The Masses

Every athlete loves to show off a little bit in gym class, especially when it's time to play their respective sport. My hockey kids were no different. Floorball was their time to shine as conquering gym class heroes. While the rest of the class was whacking and whiffing, they were dangling and zipping wristers from across the gym floor.

For those not familiar, floorball has a lot of the same qualities as hockey, with stickhandling, passing, shooting and scoring. Think hockey without the ice. Round up some sneakers, sticks, and balls and you're ready to go.

"The benefits are endless, "says Joe Bonnett, a regional manager with USA Hockey's American Development Model. "It helps develop hand-eye coordination, running, starting, stopping, changing directions, passing and stickhandling. Floorball also trains the brain. It presents situations where the child needs to read and react to the opponent to experience success."

Mike Bonelli has worked with youth organizations around the country and finds floorball to be a terrific gateway sport for hockey. 

"It is my go-to activity when working with programs on incorporating growing the game activities as it allows kids to play hockey at the most basic level [without skates, equipment ice, etc.] and gives a sense of accomplishment and success, which hopefully translates into participants wanting to make the next stride to hockey," says the USA Hockey volunteer coach.

When Covid-19 closed rinks, hockey programs in the Dallas area turned to floorball as a replacement for paused ice hockey practices. Bonnett says by dividing players into small teams and playing 4 vs. 4, the kids get a great workout while honing their stick techniques as well as improving their decision-making abilities. 

"I use it for team building," Bonelli says. "It's part of our training routine and endurance work. It's also a great way to allow players to try new things, be creative and work on protection and gapping."

With minimal equipment required, it's easy to start up a program as a means of exposing more kids to the game. 

"Once you locate sticks, balls and nets, you just need a playing surface and organization," Bonnett says. "Find a gym, tennis court or roller rink and away you go."

Bonelli recently launched a Try Hockey Floorball program with Putnam (N.Y.) Youth Hockey to introduce more girls to hockey. Each girl in the organization invited two friends, who play other sports, to try floorball at the local roller rink for free. 

"So far, we've seen really good conversion numbers from outreaches like this," he says.

For my kids, floorball gym class was a time to showboat a bit, but it always turned into bringing a friend from school to their next game, an open skate or just coming over to the house to shoot pucks in our driveway. 

They may not have turned into stars on the ice, but having a few more hockey fans around is never a bad thing.

 

Issue: 
2020-11

Poll

Best hockey not played on ice?
Bubble hockey
15%
Air hockey
10%
Street hockey
61%
Video game hockey
14%
Total votes: 160