The biggest difference between ice hockey and roller hockey (inline hockey) is obviously the surface on which the sport is played. Ice hockey is either played on frozen ponds or on indoor ice rinks. As a result, ice hockey can be inaccessible to many people, especially those living in the southern United States. Inline hockey offers one distinct advantage over ice hockey in that it can be played on any paved surface. In fact, many inline leagues and pickup games take place on outdoor basketball and tennis courts.
Besides the differences in playing surface, there are several significant rule differences between the two sports. The most significant of these rule differences is that ice hockey is played with five skaters per team, whereas inline hockey is only played with four. Furthermore, a standard game China Ice Hockey of inline hockey has no offsides or icing rules. In other words, skaters generally have more freedom to skate and shoot in inline hockey. Finally, many inline hockey leagues are played using a ball rather than a puck. For players used to using a puck, adjusting to a ball can be quite difficult because of its different characteristics of movement on the court.
In general, the roller hockey player also uses less equipment. While shin guards, elbow pads, gloves, and a helmet are all necessary to play either sport, inline hockey players generally do not wear shoulder pads or breezers (ice hockey pants). This is because roller hockey pucks and balls are not nearly as hard as a frozen puck and most inline leagues are non-checking.
So which sport should you play? Ice and roller hockey are both tremendously fun to play, with some subtle differences in style of play and rules. Many hockey players actually play in both inline and ice hockey leagues. The type of hockey that is right for you is based completely on preference. Both types of hockey can be extremely competitive and challenging. I recommend that one play in both types of leagues in order to gain a better feel for each sport. Either way, start skating and practicing as soon as possible. Hockey is a tough sport to learn but a rewarding one to play.