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J-Ball: Hockey for all

Ashleigh Went

Trying a new sport can be difficult.

For one – there’s the rules. Having tagged one of my own team members during an Oztag game, it’s pretty safe to say that I don’t easily understand the rules of most sports – even social ones. While that might be an extreme example, it can be difficult for many of us to learn the rules of a new sport or code.

Then, there’s the intimidation factor. Trying any new experience can be challenging, but when there’s a perceived risk or danger associated, it can be even more so.

Next, there’s the social factor. If you don’t have a full team – or any team to speak of – to start with, it adds extra complication. Especially when so many of us have various commitments to balance – work, spouses, children – it can be difficult so sign up for a full season when you’re not totally sure that you can commit.

Hockey, for example, can seem from the outside like quite a complicated, dangerous sport – especially for someone like me, who doesn’t know all that much about it. For starters, it’s a contact sport, and of course, there’s that rock hard ball that flies at an alarming speed.

J-Ball is the latest offering from Hockey ACT that aims to change that. It’s a more accessible, social sport that takes a lot of the main elements of hockey, but makes it more simple and less technical, with the aim of fun and fitness in mind as opposed to competitiveness or athleticism.

The equipment used in J-Ball is modified – the hockey stick can be used whether you’re left handed or right handed (which is not usually the case in regular hockey, I’m told), and the hard ball is replaced with a softer ball. There’s no shin pads required, and no intentional body contact allowed.

There’s also a different field set up. Rather than having players shooting all over the field and crowding around the ball, the field is set up into thirds, with two players from each team in each of the thirds. Not only does this make the game suitable for people of all fitness levels, as there’s less distance to cover than regular hockey, but it also is slightly safer than having many players dashing towards the ball at one time.

The game is played in mixed teams, with at least two players of each gender. Players are aged 10 and up, so if you have kids over 10, it’s a game that you can safely play as a whole family.

It’s also far less of a commitment than regular hockey. There’s no big upfront fee – teams play $10 per player per session, with the option to establish a team of six, or to have more players that can rotate on and off the field. When you register, you can select to join an existing team or register a team. Alternatively you can register as an individual and Hockey ACT will place you in a team with others. The game is comprised of three 12-minute thirds with two minutes rest in between, so at 40 minutes once per week, it’s not a huge time commitment either.

The idea behind J-Ball is obviously to provide an opportunity for people to play a fun, social sport – but also to encourage people to get involved in the sport of hockey. It’s an excellent way to experience particular aspects of the sport, without having to make a huge commitment to it.

You don’t need to know the rules, you don’t need to know other people who play, and best of all, you don’t need to worry about being smacked in the face with a hard hockey ball.

Turns out, trying a new sport doesn’t have to be all that difficult after all.

the essentials

What: J-Ball
Where: the National Hockey Centre, Lyneham
When: Mondays at 6pm, season commencing 23rd October – 11 December 2017
How much: $10 per player, per session
Register: Players can register here.


Ashleigh Went

HerCanberra ACTIVE Editor Ashleigh Went has a passion for all things health and wellness. As someone who loves champagne and cheese almost as she loves a sweaty workout, she's all about living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She can usually be found with her nose in a book, planning her next adventure, in the gym or updating her Instagram @wentworthavenue. More about the Author