Comparing U.S. and Canadian Female Hockey Participation

I was doing some research over the holidays to understand the state of women’s hockey in North America and found a few interesting insights between the U.S. and Canadian female hockey participation and coaching at the university level.  Here they are:

Overall Female Participation

1. Total hockey participation is about 8% more in Canada over the U.S., but female participation in Canada is 21% more than in the U.S.

Male to Female Participation

2. The ratio of Male to Female hockey players in the U.S. is ~6:1. In other words, female hockey players only make up 15% of all players in the U.S. While in Canada the ratio is ~5:1 while female players represent 17% of all players in Canada.

Under 18 Girls in Canada vs U.S.A.

3. While female hockey players in both the U.S. and Canada grew by a little more than 2% in 2019-20 (compared to male player which had declines in both countries), there are still about 25% more female players under 18 in Canada compared to the U.S.

Female U.S. Division I Women’s Hockey Coaches

4. Only 33% of U.S. Division I women’s hockey coaches are female, while 67% of their assistant/associate coaches are female

Female Canadian U Sports Women’s Hockey Coaches

5. 46% of U Sports Head Coaches in Canada are women while 54% of their Assistant/Associates Coaches are female.

Here is my interpretation of the data:

  1. The U.S. still has some work to do to catch up to Canada on female participation in the sport. “Girls Give Hockey a Try” is a phenomenal start, but I think there is even more that can be done.
  2. I suspect it will take a major change in one of the countries development programs before one will be the dominant hockey power. Due to density issues in the States with less players distributed in more metropolitan areas than Canada, it would take a significant commitment/investment to build a sizeable lead over Canada.
  3. I was expecting to see more female head coaches in both Canada and the U.S.. However, given the male to female ratio of participation in both countries, the male coaching advantage in women’s college hockey is not a complete surprise. I would suspect that these numbers will flip to favor female head coaches over the coming years as they are given more opportunity and the recent generation of women players move into and up the coaching ranks.

Sources: USA Hockey 2019-20 Registration Report, Hockey Canada 2019-20 Annual Report and Champs App analysis.