Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Jennifer E. Bruening; Janet S. Fink

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


This research study sought to better understand at what point in the player development process did aspiring professional hockey players learn of, as well as consent to, ice hockey’s unwritten rules. How this process occurred was also under examination. While some research had been conducted relative to the development of unwritten rules within sport, little research to date had focused on ice hockey’s unwritten rules and none had focused on the factors associated with their development. Research in other sport areas has indicated that knowledge and consent of unwritten rules is expected in the development of a professional athlete. As a result, the unwritten rules of ice hockey were inductively analyzed to better determine when development occurred during the socialization of the athlete on a pre-professional participant track. In regards to ice hockey culture and this study, a social learning theory lens was used to provide insight into the player development process of ice hockey’s unwritten rules. Qualitative participant interviews yielded the following 4 major themes: (a) Ice hockey’s unwritten rule development initially occurs as a transition out of the youth hockey classification; (b) The unwritten rule development process is unique for each player; (c) Players consent to the unwritten rules to earn team respect, trust, and promote the well-being of the team; (d) The veteran players at each level should teach ice hockey’s unwritten rules.

Major Advisor

Laura J. Burton