Frequently Asked Questions
Common Questions & Answers
What is PowerHockey?
PowerHockey is wheelchair hockey specifically
for persons requiring the use of an electric (power) wheelchair
during daily life. Power wheelchair users have commonly been excluded
from competitive sports because most people believe they are just
too physically weak. PowerHockey proves that thought wrong.
The term PowerHockey is simply a shortened
way of explaining electric (power) wheelchair hockey. The term
PowerHockey is being registered as an official Trademark
of the U.S. Electric Wheelchair Hockey Association.
Who Plays PowerHockey?
PowerHockey is for both male and female participants.
The primary source of strength and speed involved in the sport
comes from the wheelchair. This allows both male and female participants,
of all ages, to compete with and/or against each other on an equal
level. The age range of participants varies. The earliest suggested
age to begin playing is 13.
Many participants of PowerHockey have disabilities
such as Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy and severe spinal cord
injuries. Although these types of disabilities cause severe PHYSICAL
disability, all participants of PowerHockey must have the
cognitive ability to follow general rules, strategy and other
aspects of sport.
Why is PowerHockey commonly
played on a basketball court?
The most obvious reason is ice and wheelchairs are
not totally compatible. (NOTE: Although it has been tried, and
is not totally impossible.)
Some not-so-obvious reasons: A high percentage of
PowerHockey participants have severe upper-respiratory concerns,
meaning long periods of time in cold climates can cause health
problems; and excess clothing, to sustain warmth, will impede
players ability to play hockey.
The size of a basketball court seems to be the best
floor size when considering the speed of wheelchairs and the general
flow of PowerHockey. If PowerHockey was played on
a larger surface such as an ice or roller rink, the game takes
on the look of a much slower paced game. Simply think what would
happen, if the NHL would play on a sheet of ice as large as a
soccer field. The speed and intensity would not be the same.
What type of equipment is used?
As with any sport, uniformity of equipment is important.
Because many participants do not have the strength to lift heavy objects (such as wood sticks) the sport
is played with all-plastic hockey sticks (both shaft and blade). A plastic ball is substituted for a puck,
allowing greater movement during the game. Many players simply
use the power of their wheelchair to move and control the ball.
The use of protective equipment, such as helmets, pads and eye protection is highly encouraged however at this time it remains optional. Many PowerHockey participants cannot wear such equipment as a helmet due to weak neck muscles. PowerHockey is a fairly low contact sport. Most contact during the sport is primarily from wheelchairs bumping each other side to side.
What are the rules?
PowerHockey follows many of the same rules
found in any ice hockey league, such as the NHL. Of course, rules
are adapted to fit the ability of power wheelchair users. For
example, PowerHockey goaltenders do not have the ability
to reach down and freeze the puck (ball). Thus, the referee blows
the whistle when the ball is under the goalie's wheelchair, prompting
a frozen puck (ball). (REFER TO OFFICIAL RULES FOR MORE INFORMATION.)
Is PowerHockey just for
power wheelchair users?
PowerHockey is specifically for persons requiring
the use of an electric (power) wheelchair during daily life. Sports
opportunities for power wheelchair users are VERY limited. In
fact, until recently there were NO power wheelchair team sports
opportunities available. National organizations/events such as
Paralympics and Special Olympics (which deals with mental disabilities)
have NO team sport opportunities for power wheelchair users. Manual
wheelchair users have many sports opportunities, such as basketball,
hockey, softball, football, racing and rugby to just name a few.
As an organization, we encourage ANYONE to give
wheelchair hockey a try. In some cases, a combination of power
and manual wheelchairs has been tried. We believe this is fine,
if there is not a sufficient amount of power wheelchair users
in a specific area. Just playing hockey is the main goal. However,
we warn everyone that elite competition on a National and International
level is strictly power wheelchairs.
Electric (power) wheelchair hockey has developed
around the world as an incredible sports opportunity for power
wheelchair users. Electric (power) wheelchair hockey is played
in many countries around the world. There are teams in Europe,
Australia, Canada and the US. It is thought by many organizers,
around the world, that power wheelchair hockey will someday be
in the Paralympic Games.
What is the difference between
PowerHockey & Sled Hockey?
Entirely different disability groups play these
two types of hockey. Sled Hockey is a Paralympic sport, played
by persons with good to great upper body strength. It would be
impossible for most PowerHockey participants to play Sled
How can I start a league or team?
The first step is to contact us. We may already
know of interested participants in your area. If not, we may be
able to help find some interested participants. Through our web
page, media exposure and advertising, persons in many cities looking
for a local program commonly contact us.
Do not expect you will immediately find 30 participants
in your area. It takes time to develop a
program. In Minnesota we started with just 5 friends meeting once
a month (sometimes not even that much) and playing for fun. No
uniforms and not a lot of equipment. A rehabilitation center called
Courage Center let us have free gym time.
We started putting together informational brochures
and sending them to other friends. We also placed information
in newsletters of local organizations serving disabled people
(like hospitals, rehab centers etc.). Within a couple of years
our Minnesota mailing list grew from 10 to 100, which led to a
formal Minnesota Division consisting of 4 teams (about 30 players).
The Minnesota Division has a 10 game regular season along with
playoffs. Teams wear uniforms (jerseys), stats are kept and volunteers
referee the games. But it took a lot of time to get to this point.
So be patient!
Does it cost a lot of money to
start a PowerHockey program?
NO. PowerHockey is a fairly inexpensive program
to start. The most expensive part is gym rental. In many cases
this will be donated by a facility. It is important to try and
find a facility that will donate or give a reduced fee for gym
space. Other than gym space the major costs associated with PowerHockey
is the necessary equipment such as sticks, balls, tape, goals
(or cones). These costs depend on the amount of participants but
generally a program will cost less than $300 to start, if only
using essential equipment and with free gym space. (In many cases
the U.S. EWHA will simply send you the essential equipment so
you can get started-contact us for more info.)
Of course to develop a larger program with uniforms
and a full season of games, costs will be higher. Generally all
participants will be able to do a group fundraiser to cover these
Why does the Minnesota Division
play during the summer?
The Minnesota Division has found it is easier for
participants to attend games during the summer. Many participants
use public transportation (buses) to attend games. Many players
find it much easier to get to games during the warmer climate.
Not to mention it is much easier to find available and affordable gym space during
the summer. In Minnesota, during the winter months, it is almost
impossible to find available gym space due to a variety of other
indoor sports programs.