Age Groups & Levels of Play
Programs available vary from nation to nation with the youngest age groups often commencing as young as five years old. Youth leagues typically run in groupings of two to three years depending on the size of the community and number of participants. A sample program may offer the following age groups:
- Under 18 (as at start of year)
- Under 16
- Under 14
- Under 12
- Under 10
- Under 8
- Under 6
Men’s programs usually commence at 18 years of age, with some programs allowing under-18's to play with parental consent if no youth program exists in their community. Nations may offer as many as six senior levels of play based on competitiveness of the player/team, including old-timers (over 30 years of age in most countries).
As players/teams succeed at each level, they are normally expected to graduate to higher competitive levels of play if offered in their communities, in order to keep programs fair and fun for all participants. Some nations offer women's programs with many more to expected to follow shortly.
Divisions for older adults are becoming more and more popular with 30+, 35+, and 40+ age levels common.
In the end, you must decide what is best for the development of your members and your program. Keeping the game fun involves more than just rules for safety but also an effort to keep play fairly competitive so that all participants have an opportunity to succeed or feel fulfilled in the effort to succeed. Self-esteem is an important element of amateur sports at a recreational level, and administrators should keep this in mind when developing programs.
My wish for our sport in 2014 is that it continues on a path of growth, excellence and strategic values that the leaders of our sport have worked on and agreed are key to our future these past two years and will continue to work on this unified path so that it will benefit all the players and nations the ISBHF today and in the years ahead.
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