Ice Hockey Vs. Roller Hockey For Teens: Which Is Best

Ice hockey is one of the most recognizable hockey sports. The less famous roller hockey shares many similarities to ice hockey, with the major missing element being an ice rink. Of these two sports, which is the best for teens?

Both ice hockey and roller hockey are great sports for teens. Ice hockey requires a larger financial investment but has more opportunities in later life. Roller hockey is more widely accessible for teens and can be used as an off-season or starting point for those considering ice hockey. 

We’ll dive further into the debate of ice hockey vs. roller hockey, covering the advantages and disadvantages of each sport. We’ll look at the possible risks, and there will be a brief overview of the costs. If you are wondering which game is right for your teens, read below for more. 

An image of a Happy female hockey coach portrait, a women's team sport played with a natural field background outdoors.

Differences Between Ice Hockey and Roller Hockey

If you’re a teen looking to get into hockey, you may wonder about the differences between ice hockey and roller hockey. Both sports have unique aspects, so let’s take a closer look at the skating surface, equipment, and rules.

Skating Surface

The skating surface is the most obvious difference between ice and roller hockey.

  • Ice hockey is played on an ice rink. Roller hockey can be played on various surfaces, including sports courts and plastic tiles.
  • Skating on ice requires ice skates. Ice skates have a blade that glides over the ice.
  • Roller hockey skates have wheels that allow for movement on the playing surface.

Another difference in skating surfaces is the size of the rink. Ice hockey rinks are typically larger than roller hockey rinks, which can affect the game’s pace and style of play.


Both sports require similar equipment, such as a stick, puck, or ball. However, the type of stick and puck/ball used can differ.

  • Ice hockey uses a puck made of hard rubber.
  • Roller hockey typically uses a ball.
  • Ice hockey sticks are designed to handle the rigors of the game on ice.
  • Roller hockey sticks are lighter and more flexible to accommodate different playing surfaces.

Another key difference is the goalie’s equipment.

  • In ice hockey, the goalie wears more padding and protection due to the faster pace of the game and the harder shots.
  • The goalie wears less padding in roller hockey since the game is typically slower, and the shots are not as hard.

These are generalizations, of course. Individual games and leagues will vary depending on age and skill level.


Ice hockey and roller hockey have similar rules, such as dividing the game into quarters/halves/periods, substitutions, and scoring opportunities. However, there are also some key differences.

There are off-side and icing stoppages in ice hockey, while roller hockey does not have these rules. This makes roller hockey more of a strategy and possession game.

Additionally, fighting and game violence are more prevalent in ice hockey, while roller hockey has stricter penalties for these actions.

Another difference is using a crease in ice hockey, an area in front of the goal only the goalie can enter. Roller hockey does not have a crease, which allows for more scoring opportunities near the goal.

Ice and roller hockey are exciting team sports that require skill, strategy, and athleticism. Whether you prefer skating on ice or plastic tiles, there’s a hockey game for you!

Overview of Ice Hockey

There are many benefits for teens who play ice hockey. Playing allows teens to improve their physical and mental health while instilling skills and values which they can apply to other areas of their life. It also has great social benefits. 

Ice hockey has been around since the late 1800s. This winter sport is a great physical activity for teens and has remained popular in cold countries since its beginning.

Including ice hockey in the Winter Olympics and the popularity of the Disney film trilogy, “The Mighty Ducks,” helped the sport reach warmer climates and a younger audience. 

Benefits of Playing Ice Hockey for Teens

Teens who play hockey will practice skills that improve their stability and coordination while strengthening their muscles and stamina. In a world with rising rates of obesity, getting teens involved in sports at an early age is essential to improving their health and keeping them active.

Playing sports is great fun, and having an active hobby makes staying healthy a fun activity rather than an obligatory aspect of life. While they can’t win every game, losing is a learning experience that teaches teens about failure, improvement, and perseverance.

Another essential part of teen well-being is their mental health. Participating in ice hockey or any sport is a great way to boost endorphins. Learning a new skill and performing well will boost their confidence, as well as competing in front of a crowd.

Improving at ice hockey involves hard work; even a small progression can improve self-esteem. Aspects of the game require players to be quick thinking and alert, using their brains to make split-second decisions during gameplay. All these skills improve brain functionality. 

Ice hockey is a team sport that requires cooperation and active communication to support each other and secure the win. Apart from working on a team, it is also a great way to make friends.

The shared experience of playing in a sports team can bond teens for life and help them feel like part of a community in school or their local area. It’s also an opportunity for teens to spend time with other people who they might not usually interact with. 

Starting a sport as a young teen can lead to a lifetime of passion, bringing joy and a sense of community in every stage of life. It is also possible for talented teens to turn their passion into a career.

For the top players, playing professional ice hockey can result in a lucrative salary and the opportunity to play with some of the sport’s top athletes or even represent their country in international competitions. 

Risks Associated with Ice Hockey Teens Should Know

It is possible to get injured when playing ice hockey, as in many sports. Some of the most common injuries include concussions, sprains, and cuts or scrapes. As ice hockey is a contact sport, there are risks of injuries caused by collisions or falling on ice.

Heavy padding and helmets are required when playing to reduce the risk of injury.

The most common and mild injuries are bruises or sprains. It’s possible for more serious injuries such as broken bones or concussions from heavy impact. There is a risk of facial injury from hockey sticks or the puck, so mouthguards are worn when playing. 

All of the above may sound scary, especially when considering signing up our teens for the sport. But under the correct supervision of coaches and officials with the appropriate protective gear, injuries should be minimal.

Learning to recover from injuries and being comfortable in a competitive environment can transfer valuable skills into adult life. 

Overview of Roller Hockey

Roller hockey benefits from all the advantages of ice hockey but does have some additional benefits for teens. This includes an excellent introduction to hockey and a way for ice hockey players to train during the off-season. 

Roller hockey, or inline line hockey as it is known in Europe, was established as a sport in 1980. It offers a similar gameplay to ice hockey but is much more widely accessible as an ice rink is not required.

It’s a fun sport for teens to participate in that will improve their health and teach them a new skill. 

Roller and ice hockey have very similar rules, so it’s easy to transition between them. Teens new to hockey can enjoy roller hockey as an introduction to the sport. This is especially helpful if your teen is interested in ice hockey but unsure if they would like it. 

Benefits of Playing Roller Hockey for Teens

For teens who already play ice hockey, roller hockey offers an alternative sport to play when the ice hockey season has ended. The similarities in the game mean they can practice essential skills but also improves creativity and adaptability to play on a different surface with alternative rules. 

Gameplay in roller hockey is very similar to ice hockey, and the injuries experienced are also the same. Bruises and strains are also very common though a concussion from heavy impact is less likely.

It’s still extremely important to wear the appropriate protective equipment, especially for the skull and face, as there is still a risk from hockey sticks and pucks. 

Risks Associated with Roller Hockey Teens Should Know

One benefit of roller hockey is that hitting or body-checking is not allowed. This means players cannot collide with another player to separate them from the puck. Roller hockey is still considered a contact sport but has a less aggressive nature.

Not colliding with other players reduces the risk of injury associated with heavy contact, especially for teenagers.

Ankle sprains are one of the most common risks in roller hockey, and this can have a knock-on effect on teens in their day-to-day life, as sprains can result in difficulty walking. Fortunately, it is possible to recover with rest and strengthening exercises quickly. 

An image of ice hockey sports teen players in training.

Benefits of Playing Ice and Roller Hockey

Whatever type of hockey you choose, some benefits must be acknowledged. So let’s do that before diving into individual sports’ benefits and risks.

Physical Benefits

Playing both ice and roller hockey offers numerous physical benefits for teens.

  • Both sports require a lot of physical activity, which can help improve cardiovascular health and endurance.
  • Skating is a great exercise that can help strengthen leg muscles, improve balance, and increase agility.
  • Additionally, both sports involve a lot of quick movements and changes in direction, which can help improve overall coordination and reflexes.

Ice and roller hockey also require specialized equipment, such as skates, sticks, and protective gear. This equipment can help improve strength and muscle tone, especially in the upper body.

For example, the gloves used in ice hockey are designed to protect while allowing for a good grip on the stick. This can help improve hand and wrist strength over time.

Mental Benefits

Playing ice and roller hockey can also have mental benefits for teens. Both sports require a lot of focus and concentration, which can help improve cognitive skills like decision-making and problem-solving.

Additionally, playing a fast-paced sport like hockey can help improve reaction time and quick thinking.

Teamwork and Social Benefits

Playing on a team can also help improve self-confidence and self-esteem. Winning a game or scoring a goal can be a huge confidence booster, and being part of a team can help teens feel a sense of belonging and purpose.

Playing on a team can help teens develop important social skills like communication, cooperation, and leadership. Additionally, being part of a team can help teens build strong relationships with their peers and form lasting friendships.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Sport for Teens

Ice and roller hockey are great sports for teens; they are fun, physically challenging, and mentally rewarding. Both sports are great physical activities and can be a fun and social experience for teens, but they each have some additional advantages and disadvantages.

We’ve outlined them below and separated them by sport. 

Ice hockey: advantages and disadvantages

One of the biggest advantages of ice hockey is that skilled players or teens with a passion for the sport can progress into a career in ice hockey, whether coaching, sports agent, or even NHL professional player. There are also more leagues and teams to play ice hockey than roller hockey.

Teens compete on a giant slab of ice, helping keep players cool during the game. 

One disadvantage of ice hockey is that it requires more equipment than roller hockey. Players also need access to an ice rink to play and practice which can result in logistical and financial hurdles depending on where they live and their family income.

Roller hockey: advantages and disadvantages

The advantages of roller hockey are much more game focused. Roller hockey is not as physical as ice hockey, making it an excellent starting point for teens wanting to try out hockey. There is more room on the rink for players and a higher focus on stick skills and technical ability to do well.

Playing roller hockey is also a great tool for teens who enjoy ice hockey, allowing them to practice similar skills during the off-season. It’s also possible to play roller hockey on any smooth, flat surface giving more opportunities to play. 

Regarding disadvantages, there is evidence that players are more likely to experience injuries such as sprains from roller hockey. It’s also a smaller sport, so finding a league or team to play with can be challenging as some regions have limited options. 

Differences in rules and regulations

The rules of ice hockey and roller hockey are very similar, but there are some notable exceptions, particularly no checking in roller hockey. Some of these differences in rules lead to different regulations in each sport, mainly impacting protective gear.

Other differences, such as team sizes and officials, mainly impact players’ experience, including the games’ pacing. 

In roller hockey, players are not allowed to check other players. Checking is where one player collides with another player to steal the puck away from them. It is against the rules to do this in roller hockey, so players do not wear shoulder pads.

Fighting is also not allowed in roller hockey, and players who become confrontational will be punished heavily. Fighting in ice hockey is more acceptable. 

The layout of the rink is different for each sport. In roller hockey, the rink is split into two zones: the offensive and defensive zones. Ice hockey is split into three zones: the offensive zone, the defensive zone, and the neutral zone.

The rules for being offside in roller and ice hockey are completely different. Ice hockey features one referee and two linesmen, whereas roller hockey has just two referees. 

Team sizes also vary in hockey sports; during an ice hockey game, six players from each team will be on the rink at one time. In roller hockey, five players from each team will be in the playing area (or rink) at one time.

Some people feel that having fewer players on a rink makes the game progress slower. 

An image of a young hockey player in full gear inside the ice rink.

Equipment Comparison for Teens Considering Roller Hockey vs. Ice Hockey

When comparing roller hockey vs. ice hockey equipment, the good news is that a lot of the equipment is the same and can be interchangeable if players choose to play both sports. Ice hockey has more gear, and that gear takes up more room.

Both sports have a good range of brands for teens with different prices, fits, and styles. 

Cost Comparison Between Ice And Roller Hockey

Generally speaking, ice hockey gear costs more money than roller hockey gear because there’s more of it.

Equipment costs

  • Ice hockey equipment that’s brand new can cost up to $1,000 or more. The best option if on a budget is to buy used or a combination of used and new equipment on sale, which can reduce the cost to around $300.
  • Roller hockey equipment will cost less as the players don’t need as much protective gear.

Thankfully, there’s some shared equipment across the sports. We’ll review that first, followed by the required equipment unique to each sport.

Shared Equipment (for Both Ice and Roller Hockey)

The products below are the same whether teens play ice or roller hockey. This means that if they transition from one sport to another other, we don’t need to replace these essentials. 

  • Shin pads –  We can purchase youth shin pads for 30 dollars, and adult shin pads can reach up to $200 with budget options available for $50.
  • Sticks – Costs start from around $40 to over $450  for top-of-the-range sticks. Sticks can last up to a year or more, depending on the type of playing and quality. 
  • Gloves – Youth gloves start from $35 and can peak at $180; for adult sizes, the cheapest available begin at $65 and reach $230. 
  • Elbow Pads – One of the most affordable protective gears, starting at $20 for youth-level players and reaching up to $150 for adults.
  • Helmet – Players can pick up a helmet from $60, with the most expensive costing over $400. This is, of course, the most important protective equipment for playing hockey.

The above includes all larger equipment needed to play the game, but it’s also worth considering additional items that teens will need including a sports bag, water bottle, protective cup, mouthguard, and socks. 

Equipment for Ice Hockey 

  • Ice Skates – Depending on the teen’s age, they will need youth skates which start from $50 up to $200. Older teens may require adult sizes which start from just over $100 up to over $1,000.
  • Shoulder Pads – Required for ice hockey only, shoulder pads cost on average $60 to $90, but the top range models can cost $220.
  • Ice Hockey Shorts – These start from $50 up to $150; hockey shorts do not include a cup. This is an additional extra that will need to be purchased. 

Purchasing second-hand for younger teens may be a good idea as their feet are still growing, so they may only last about a year or so before moving to larger sizes. 

Human feet are fully grown by the age of twenty years, but most teens reach their largest size at age sixteen for males or fourteen for females. 

Equipment for Roller Hockey 

  • Roller Skates – New roller skates start from around $70 and can cost up to $500. There is more variety in roller skates as different skates have different wheel setups or chassis. The setup doesn’t impact the cost as much as the level, from entry to elite.
  • Roller Hockey Girdle – This equipment is specific to roller hockey and has a cup, built-in padding, and breathable materials. Girdles start from around $35 up to $80.

Purchasing the most expensive skate does not mean it will be the best for teens. It’s worth speaking to staff in the store about the correct sizing and level based on their feet and stature. 

Hockey Fees

In all sports, there can be additional costs that need to be factored in when considering if a sport is right for a teen. They can start with league fees which can cost hundreds of dollars annually. Players may also need to pay to use official practice facilities such as sports halls and ice rinks. 

There are also non-sports related costs, such as transport to and from practice and competitions and equipment maintenance. For example, ice skates require sharpening, and wheels need replacing on roller skates. 

Ice hockey players may also have rink fees associated with each practice. That adds up fast.

An image of a beautiful young woman wearing hockey gear and looking at the camera while posing in the locker room.

Skills and Techniques for Ice and Roller Hockey

Ice and roller hockey have some shared skill sets, though they have some differences. Knowing which skill sets are required to play each sport is important, so we’ll discuss them here.

Offensive Techniques

When playing offense in ice and roller hockey, it’s important to have good stick-handling skills and control the puck. You should also be able to skate quickly and stop on a dime to evade defenders.

  • In ice hockey, you need to be aware of the blue lines and not enter the offensive zone before the puck does.
  • Roller hockey has no blue lines, but you must be aware of offside calls.

Defensive Techniques

In ice and roller hockey, defensive players need to have good balance, stop quickly, and change direction to keep up with the opposing team.

In ice hockey, the defensive zone is divided into three zones, and you need to be aware of these zones to prevent the opposing team from scoring.

Body checking can happen in ice hockey and in some leagues of roller hockey (especially if it turns into a derby-style game). However, body checking is usually a no-go in roller hockey.

Skating Techniques

Skating is a crucial part of both ice and roller hockey.

  • In ice hockey, you need to have good balance and be able to use your edges to stop and change direction quickly. You also need to know the type of skate blades you use, as they can affect your performance.
  • In roller hockey, you need to be able to skate on a hard surface and use your edges to make quick turns. You also need to know the type of skates and wheels you use, as they can affect your performance.

Stick Handling and Puck Control

Stick-handling and puck control are essential skills for both ice and roller hockey. You should be able to control the puck while skating and pass accurately to your teammates.

  • In ice hockey, you must know the defensive players and not turn the puck over in the defensive zone.
  • In roller hockey, you need to be able to control the puck on the hard surface and make quick passes.

Overall, ice and roller hockey require much skill and practice. You need to have good muscle strength and be able to stop and change direction quickly.

You must also wear the appropriate protective gear, such as elbow and shoulder pads, to prevent injury. Whether you prefer ice or roller hockey, mastering these skills and techniques will help you become a better player.

Popularity Among Teens

Ice hockey is more popular than roller hockey in the United States. There is 70% less participation in roller hockey than in ice hockey, reflected in teen participation.

Less participation doesn’t mean anyone should be discouraged from playing, but teens may find there is more infrastructure to join ice hockey teams rather than roller hockey.  

An image of an unidentified ice hockey players inside the ice rink.

Tips to Decide Which Hockey Type to Play

Both sports are suitable for teens to play, and neither offers a drastic advantage that would make it better for teens. Perhaps the main distinction is whether a teen wants to choose a sport they could play as a career or enjoy for fun.

Here are some questions players should ask themselves before choosing either sport. 

Is One Better than the Other for Teens?

Both sports are great options, and neither is inherently “better” than the other. Choose the one that you like the most.

Do You Want to Be a Pro Athlete as an Adult? 

Suppose a teen is very athletically talented and wants to pursue sports professionally. In that case, ice hockey offers much more opportunities within the U.S. Roller hockey is more popular in European and Latin American countries.

If a teen is interested in traveling, then there could be the potential to play overseas. 

As someone who had dreams of playing college sports, be realistic about your expectations. Not everyone will be the next Wayne Gretzky or Michael Jordan.

In case you’re wondering – I didn’t play collegiate competitive sports. I did, however, play intramural sports in college.

Which Sport Is Most Accessible in Your Area? 

Not surprisingly, ice hockey is more popular in colder states. If there are no ice rinks in the area, then roller hockey may be an easier sport to pursue.

Can You Afford to Play? 

All sports require personal investment to pay for equipment, fees, and transportation. Of the two sports, ice hockey is the more expensive to play. This does not mean playing is impossible if the family is on a budget.

But, it is worth researching scholarships or sports funding to see which sports players can continue playing long-term. 

What Sport Do You Want to Play?

This is the most important question of all. If your teen is passionate about a sport, that is the best sport for them to play. The mental and physical health benefits of participating in an activity you love will help your teen grow into a happy and active adult. 

Next Steps 

Teens cannot go wrong by choosing either ice hockey or roller hockey. Both sports will get them moving, help them make friends, and establish important skills to serve them throughout their lives.

Knowing this, it’s easy to decide based on costs, possible risks, and which sport is most accessible locally. There’s no right or wrong sport to choose between ice hockey and roller hockey.

Both teach the teen transferable skills that can be applied to each other.

Now get out there, try some new sports, and develop a lifelong love of being actively healthy!


Learning from your own experiences is important, but learning from others is also smart. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as a family of sports nuts wannabes.

  • Hockey Tutorial. (2015, July 9). Difference Between Ice and Inline, Roller Hockey Rules – Offside, Clearing and Icing [Video]. YouTube.
  • OrthoKids – Hockey Injuries. (n.d.). Statista.
  • Ice hockey participation in U.S. high schools 2010-2022, by gender.
  • Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. (2022, April 8). Benefits of Playing Youth Hockey | Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.

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