more than a game: the effect of ice hockey on girls physical, intelectual, and social development

Por: Colin Higgs, J. Hodder, N. Beausoleil e T. Loeffler.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Theberge [1] recognized that ice hockey is a significant part of Canadian culture. Participation in female hockey has increased 400% in the last decade in Canada. Along with this phenomenal rise in participation, the opportunities available to female hockey players have expanded rapidly to include participation at the local, regional, provincial, national, international, and Olympic levels. Given this exponential growth in participation, it is important to understand the impact of the game on girls’ physical, intellectual and social development.


The present study concerned itself with ascertaining the effect of hockey participation on girls’ development. Specifically, this exploratory study utilized qualitative inquiry methods to investigate the following questions:
1) How does participation in the sport of hockey influence girls’ physical development?
2) How does participation in the sport of hockey influence girls’ intellectual development?
3) How does participation in the sport of hockey influence girls’ social development?
Three focus groups comprising of female hockey players, aged between the age of 13 and 18 were conducted.


The study found that hockey participation had significant influence on girls’ physical, intellectual, and social development. It supplies regular vigorous physical activity, deters engagement in problematic behaviors, and provides an engaging social network. The study showed that participation in hockey brought with it gains in self-esteem, sense of competence, and better performance in school.


By giving academics, administrators, coaches and players a better understanding of the significance and impact of the girls’ participation in hockey, this study has practical and socially relevant ends. This study contributes to the understanding of the effects of hockey participation on girls’ development. It builds on prior research related to the physical, gendered, and psychological dimensions of the hockey experience. It extends previous research by utilizing qualitative methodology and by extending inquiry into a new group of informants. This study follows, builds on, and extends Petherick’s [3] study of girls’ decision-making about playing female hockey.


[1] Theberge, N. (1999). In J. Coakley & P. Donnelly (Eds.), Inside Sports (pp. 37-45). New York: Routledge.
[2] Petherick, L. (1999). Master’s thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.





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