Frequently Asked Questions
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 Hockey.
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 PowerHockey League (MPHL) has a 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.)
Why does the Minnesota PowerHockey League (MPHL) play during the summer?
The Minnesota PowerHockey League (MPHL) 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.