March 05, 2004

Box Hockey - 1

When I was a youngster, one way we filled our summer days was by going to the local elementary school for ‘rec’. Rec was shortspeak for “Recreation Services” and it was a program sponsored by our school district. Basically, for a few hours a day, someone (usually a college kid earning some pocket money) would sign out kickballs and jump ropes and games. There would be organized activities like bike races and weenie roasts and marble tournaments. I fondly recall heading up to the school to find out who was there and what was going on. It was one of the ‘mixing bowls’ of the area, because otherwise groups of kids mostly hung around together based on what street they lived on.

Some days it was just too darn hot to do anything. Even marbles sucked, because the best dirt beds for that were in full sun, and nobody felt like frying their brains.

That’s when the board games would come out. Alongside the playgrougd were several fixed benches, shaded by the buildings and close to the cool bricks of the school wall. Looking like birds lined up on a telephone wire, we were grouped up in various ways as we played the games. Parcheesi (ick), Sorry and Chinese Checkers, Mandala (we called it something else though), and my personal favorite – Box Hockey.

Box Hockey was the low-tech version of Air Hockey. In fact, to that point we had never heard of Air Hockey. Play is similar, and so is the speed of it, if only because the ‘rink’ is smaller.

The puck was a regular ol’ checker, and the paddles were wedge-shaped pieces of hardboard. Each end had three goals, larger ones on each side worth one point, and a smaller one smack in the middle worth three points. Games went to 11 or 15 or 21, and there was usually someone hovering nearby with dibs on the next game.

When my kids were that age, I built our own Box Hockey game. It proved to be a hit, and I built several more over the years to give away as gifts. On the underside we put a checkerboard and backgammon board, and just flipped the hockey rink to play those. We'd usually include a set of checkers, some dice, and if the child was old enough a set of chess pieces.

So that’s what we’re going to do this go-round of "Build It", we’re going to build a Box Hockey set. It makes a great birthday gift, or save it as a surprise for those heat-wave days coming up. It's also a great family project, simple enough to have the little ones pitch in. It makes it more special when they help.

If you’ve never done any woodworking, no worries. The skills are basic, the materials are readily available and inexpensive. Power tools will speed things along, but aren’t at all necessary.

Update: While out running errands tonight, I made a quick stop at the hardware store to price the lumber needed. I'm estimating right up front that you can do this project for around $30.00. Not bad for a from-the-heart gift.

Next time (probably this weekend), a detailed parts and measurement list, and pictures!

(Update: click here for the next part of the series)

Posted by Ted at March 5, 2004 05:00 AM | TrackBack
Category: Build It

Now that is something I can do... building a rocket around here would get me arrested but air-hockey - no worries.

Posted by: Ozguru at March 5, 2004 05:36 AM

I know several rocketeers in Australia, and another in NZ (although it's been awhile since I've heard from him). Rocketry isn't impossible there, just rather more difficult.

Posted by: Ted at March 5, 2004 06:57 AM

For any interested, this has become the Official Box Hockey Web site
Virtually indestructible, light weight/portable and way more fun than air hockey or foosball.

Posted by: Andy Brody at May 8, 2004 12:12 AM

Hey Rocket,

Did you go to school in Florida? I did and I have loved Box Hockey ever since and have never found this game for sale or in any store. I own a Batting cage company now, and would love to have some of these "GEMS" for the younger brother and sisters to play with while the others are using the cages.

I was so tickled to find your web site. I am a 43 year old married woman in Florida and can still remember the "Box Hockey" of my youth. Thanks for the WEB SITE! Tammy :)

Posted by: Ttammy at August 17, 2004 09:55 PM

how do you make a box hockey game ,and what are the rules

Posted by: fayette at November 1, 2004 07:07 PM

My memories of Box Hockey is more like Tammy. Our box was probably 4'x8' made with 2x8's with a single hole in each end and two holes on the board in the center. We played with sticks and a plywood puck. The challenger got to call whether it was a "fast" game or "slow" game. The Rec set it up on the sidewalk under the overhang of the school.

Posted by: Kitty at November 3, 2004 10:29 AM

i love boxed hockey as a child and would like to introduce my children to it, however i do not remember all the rules.
can you help me too remember?

Posted by: pat at November 26, 2004 09:16 PM

My Sister's friend just built the 'box hockey" we played as kids at our local rec in Wauwatosa, WI (Milwaukee).

It's a wooden framed box that about 4' X 2' and has holes for goals in each end. There are three separator boards across the middle. the middle board has one hole and the other two have 2 holes. You use checkers and a popsicle stick...bring back memories!

Anyone remember the rules???

Posted by: Tim at December 24, 2004 07:44 PM

Back in the dark ages, I played a form of box hockey. However, it just had two holes -- one at each end. No dividers. However, there was a diamond-shaped wood barracade in front of the hole to prevent straight on shots. We used a plywood puck. Instead of the fast-paced game, we took turns trying to make the shot. In a way it was sort of like pool or "bumper pool." We also played "four-square" with a basketball and "washers" where we tried to throw washers into a hole of a plywood box.

Posted by: Lc at January 31, 2005 03:49 AM

Thank you for your comments on box-hockey.
My daughter & I are running a summer camp for at-risk teens. We have a very small budget. She has raved abuot the game since attending a summer camp as a child. She is so excited to think we will be able to play with our kids!
Thank you!

Posted by: julie at May 25, 2005 11:37 AM

We played box hockey growing up in Oak Park, Michigan. Our game also used a box with 2 holes at the ends (the goals) and 3 wooden dividers. The 1 in the middle had a hole in the center and the 2 other boards had two holes, each one closer to each of the sides (similar to the plastic box hockey games they're selling on the internet now). We used a real hockey puck and wooden sticks similar to rowboat oars. We fought over the best sticks (the ones that were so worn that they had a straight edge, as opposed to the rounded edges of the brand new sticks). The game began with the puck on top of the center board. 2 players stood on opposing sides of the center board. Next, we tapped the ground and then tapped each other's stick 3 times, alternating between the ground & stick (similar to lacrosse) after the third stick tap, you slapped at the puck. If the puck landed on your opponents half, it was your shot first. A legal shot involved one where the stick never left the ground. You could tap the puck, or drag it along the ground, as long as the stick did not come up. If you did not score a goal, it was your opponent's shot. If someone hit it outside the box, the puck was placed on the side board where it went out and was flipped back onto the court and possession switched hands. When a goal was scored, the puck was placed on the center board and the game was restarted as it was in the beginning. I can't remember if we played one goal and out or if we increased the score. It was probably one and out. The kids all lined up to play. Also, you were not allowed to step inside the box to shoot, but could put one foot on the side of the box to help you reach the puck and for leverage. I spent hours playing this game!

Posted by: Terry at June 30, 2005 04:08 PM

I grew up in Minnesota and we played box hockey at rec at the Jr. High in the summer. We had a wooden frame and a metal bottom with one goal (hole) at each end and a center divider with two holes. We could choose to play with a stick or with our hand - we used a real hockey puck and stick. I would love to get the rules for this - this was my favorite game as a child. If anyone knows the rules to the game as we played it in Minnesota, I would love to know. I just remember calling out before the start of the game - "No pinching and no cheating".

Posted by: Judy at September 6, 2005 09:50 PM

When I was a kid we had "box hockey", that was ~3X6 with a divider in the middle, with two holes (off center) , one hole on each end, centered. The rub was that we played with old sawed off broom sticks, and, gasp, a golf ball. It was great fun, and pretty tricky tying to get the ball to go where you needed it to... The only "rule" was that sticks had to stay on the ground, or "very close" - saved our knuckles this way. We began play by placing the ball on top of the middle divider, clicking our sticks three times and off we would go. I just made one for my kids this weekend, and they are having almost as much fun as I am...

Posted by: Tom at September 26, 2005 02:43 PM
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