If you haven’t spent most of your childhood indoors, you’ll know that choosing the right game to play is an art of its own. Should you play basketball, football, table tennis, or have a decent game of chess? The questions can just never be answered.

Ice hockey and skating can become a habit, even when winters are over. But what happens when you have to choose between hockey and basketball?

Whether it’s for joining a professional league or passing the time with your friends, the question always comes down to which is better. Normally, people would prefer basketball as they are more familiar with the concepts. But in doing so, they completely miss out on the fun in ice hockey. So we’re here to lay down the basics.


Easy To Understand Rules

The first thing about any sport is how to play it. While many kids have had the liberty to play basketball at school, some kids are left out. Which is why learning a new sport can be a pain in the neck.

In basketball, there are ten basic rules that every player must abide by. Of course, these are just the main ones. There are hundreds of subsections and articles, and the rules of the game can be pretty hard to grasp.

Nonetheless, they can easily be comprehended through careful reading and practice. The main object of the game is to pass the ball through the basket as many times as possible. It is important to make sure that the ball is held within the hands, and the game usually lasts 30 or 35 minutes.

As for ice hockey, the main objective is to shoot the puck past the goal line. The game usually lasts no more than 60 minutes, and it is usually divided into 20-minute periods. Unlike basketball, physically pushing and touching the opponent is allowed to some extent.

Here, both the sports have easy to understand rules, and the level of complexity is same.


Time Parameters

One of the biggest deciding factors of which sport to play is the timing. While the timing can be set to anywhere within an hour, most professional and amateur leagues have set timings for the games.

In basketball, the match lasts around 48 minutes, in four 12-minute periods. Between the periods is a total 15-minute short break. Professional leagues such as the NBA and NWBL and many amateur leagues use the time parameters mentioned above. However, due to stoppages such as fouls and out-of-bounds, the game may last up to 2 or 2.5 hours. High school basketball matches usually last up to an hour and a half.

The same cannot be said for ice hockey. While the actual play time is typically 60 minutes, two 15-minute intermissions and multiple stoppages for score counting and umpiring increase the length to up to 2 hours. The game is played in three 20-minute intervals, with two breaks in between.

Most leagues typically play this game anywhere between September and April. However, the joy of ice skating can still be availed even in the summer.


Although understanding the rules can be a breeze, actually playing the game is a lot harder. In this aspect, we find basketball to be easier, though both pose their challenges.

In basketball, the players may or may not choose to wear special knee and elbow pads. Tripping in the court is a bit rare, as the game is usually played with the hands. But some players prefer to bring extra safety measures. The game itself is pretty easy. Everyone knows how to run and hold a ball in their hands. But that doesn’t mean that the game doesn’t require strategy and hard work. Still, we find basketball to be a bit less challenging.

With that being said, the sport requires a lot of physical abilities. Running around while dodging opponents and focusing on the goal is no easy task. If you are physically unable to run for long periods of time or get exhausted easily, continuing can be a menace. And if you have a short stature, then life may have other plans for you.

However, with ice hockey, a lot of skill in ice skating is required. Not everyone knows how to do that. It’s not just about playing the game, it’s also about learning an entirely different sport just to be able to play it. If you cannot even stand on ice skates, then don’t even think about getting selected. Apart from that, most of the game works just like regular hockey, and requires skill and strategy. But physical skills are not entirely necessary for hockey.

Safety Measures

As mentioned earlier, basketball requires lesser safety precautions as compared to ice hockey. Unlike football, basketball has nothing to do with the legs. So leg injuries and tripping over is rare. The most a basketball player may wear is a knee or shoulder pad. Even a helmet is not required.

Getting hit by a basketball can be pretty painful, but nothing too serious. Moreover, the game can be very hard on the legs and the body, so you need a good physique for that. But if you are capable of running a mile or two, the game shouldn’t be too dangerous.

As compared to that, ice hockey requires the player to be fully equipped with extra padding, helmets, torso pads, and gloves. And all of this for what? Because slipping on a highly polished ice floor is more common than slipping on a basketball court. Just slipping can cause a lot of injuries, and if you get run over by another player, both of you will need medical care. To add to that horror, the puck is a solid hard rubber object which is being shot around the field at high velocities. If it hits you, it could leave a bruise, or worse, break a bone. The hockey sticks are also pretty solid, and a single blow can be devastating.

While cases of injured during ice hockey are not as common as they might seem (around 16 injuries per 1000 games), many players can easily fall into that category. And for inexperienced and first time players, avoiding the injuries can be a challenge. Moreover, all the extra equipment requires money, and if you can’t afford it, then get ready for some medical bills.


Many amateur players have to buy their own equipment, and for many middle and lower class citizens, this is bad news.

In basketball, the first thing you need is a decent court. The floor is usually concrete and polished, but if you’re short on a budget then any type of floor is suitable. Even a grass field can be utilized, although traction is inhibited. A decent basketball can cost as little as $12 and as much as $60. We recommend spending at most $40 on the ball. The basketball hoops cost a maximum of $40 as well, though any decent price would be $30 or lower. Apart from that, additional safety pads come under $17 per player, though if you’re short on budget this can easily be skipped. The most you can require is a decent pair of outdoor basketball shoes, which costs no more than $60.

For ice hockey, the budget is a bit tougher. For one thing, this game cannot be played on any grass or concrete field. You need a special polished and closely monitored pristine ice surface for that. Naturally, these surfaces can be found over lakes and pounds, but we strongly discourage playing there. The sheet of ice is too thin and too dangerous. Renting an arena is your best option, which itself can cost a fortune. Hockey sticks cost about $20, while a single puck is usually cheaper than a dollar or two. But the expensive part comes in the pads. The padding is required around the knees, elbows, chest, torso, and the hands require gloves.

Payment and Success

If you choose to take the sport professionally, you should know about the scope and payment that you’ll be getting.

The starting salary for the NBA is around $490,000 per season. Amateur leagues can pay as much as $2,000, and even some official high school and college leagues pay stipends.

For ice hockey, the scope is a bit less. The NHL and Olympics are the biggest events, but it takes a lot of skill and strategy to participate. The money promised is also a bit less. The minimum income of an NHL player is somewhere close to $45,000 or $50,000, although the highest paid can get up to $2 million per season. Many high school associations also provide stipends.


Basketball is played in a ton of countries. In the US alone, there are around 15 basketball leagues, including the NBA as well as the NBWA for women. Around 16 amateur and high school/university leagues have also made it to the front lines.

In ice hockey, there is only one major professional league (the NHA), along with around 6-7 smaller leagues. However, the scope for junior leagues is a bit higher, although payment is lesser.


We admire both of the sports, and acknowledge that they both require skill. But if we were to recommend one of these to you, we’d choose basketball. The main reason is that basketball is a safe and easy sport, and even rookie street kids can play the game. Ice hockey requires a lot of more equipment and budget, and has a lesser scope.

But don’t forget to do what you love! There is no way to rank talents, and every skill is beautiful in its own way.



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