Active for Life: Hockey

Active for Life is a national initiative about physical literacy.

We provide information, advice, and resources for parents who want to raise active and successful kids. Being physically literate helps children to be better hockey players, and better athletes.

Here are our key articles about hockey and physical literacy:

Brent Sutter thinks we need a ‘new normal’ for Canadian kids’ hockey; he’s right

Brent Sutter, coach of Canada’s hockey team at the 2014 World Junior Championship, thinks kids’ hockey needs to get back to the basics.


When your kids play hockey, it’s okay to have expectations about their experience

Parents should not be afraid to initiate constructive and respectful discussions that will lead to improving the sports experience, not only for their kids, but for everyone involved, including coaches.


Hockey parents can get ready for the season with this conditioning camp

It’s important for parents to remember that unconditionally supporting their child’s sports performance is of paramount importance, no matter the child’s skill level.


Here’s what hockey’s “new normal” is made of

The new normal in hockey is not only about developing elite hockey players, it’s about making sure that kids learn the right skills at the right time so they have more fun. This helps to create life-long players.


Here’s how you can bring hockey’s “new normal” to your community

The way the game of hockey is played at its highest levels influences the way it’s taught to children. Here are some things parents, coaches, and minor hockey associations can do to help kids … and why it matters.


Specialization: What does it really mean?

Early and premature sport specialization creates the danger that children will get overuse injuries and burnout; thus parents need to start by understanding what specialization means.


Max Domi more than filling his famous father’s skates

Max Domi is giving back, letting young players with Type 1 diabetes — the same affliction he suffers from — know that if he can play hockey with an illness, so can they.


Can you guess the one thing that most elite athletes have in common?

Coaches, elite athletes, sport scientists, and medical professionals all weigh in on the merits of the multi-sport approach to sport training.


USA Hockey takes a page from Canada’s playbook

USA Hockey has taken a page from Canada’s playbook by adopting principles of Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) into their youth player development, skills training, and coach education for amateur hockey.


Hockey Canada’s top 5 “off-ice” sports and activities to help goalies get better

To enable peak performance, hockey goalies are advised to develop a range of athletic abilities in other sports and activities, including yoga, gymnastics, and racquet sports.


Hockey Canada’s top 6 “off-ice” sports and activities to help hockey players get better

To ensure your child reaches their potential in hockey or other sports, and also develops his or her maximum physical and mental potential, make sure that they develop both physical literacy and a range of athletic abilities.


If you’re raising a child athlete, think long-term

The Long-Term Athlete Development model was created to ensure that sport and activities for kids are developmentally appropriate according to maturation during child development. A key part of LTAD is physical literacy, and child physical literacy should be developed by the onset of the growth spurt.


Hockey Québec at the leading edge of the sport with ‘Building an Athlete’ program

This program has helped the most athletic and skilled hockey players make it to the elite level, with a reduced risk of overuse injury, while also creating more balanced players that carry on with the game longer.


In Québec, kids don’t play hockey games until they have the skills

Hockey Québec’s MAGH is a mandatory 20-hour program geared to teach all players between the ages of 5 and 8 the basic skills of hockey — skating, puck handling, and small-area games — before they can ever play a league game.


Kids who specialize too early often get the short end of the hockey stick

Studies show that the best way to ensure happy and successful sports-playing kids is to make sure they get to try multiple sports. Early specialization leads to injury and burnout.


Hockey Canada and Active for Life partner with postcards for parents

Hockey Canada and Active for Life have partnered to help create a new normal for kids’ hockey in Canada, and an educational postcard is one way the message is being communicated.


How playing multiple sports is good for your kids

Kids benefit from participating in as many different sports and physical activities as possible while they are learning movement and sport skills.


Size matters when it comes to playing fields for kids

Kids need rinks and playing fields that are age-appropriate. To an 8-year old child, 50 yards feels like 100. So when children play in an adult-sized space, they’re playing on a surface that’s at least twice as big as what they can handle.


How my kids are like Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, and other hockey greats have suggested that year-round hockey might not be good for young players. Playing a variety of sports and developing overall athleticism is acknowledged as best for young players, and a path to elite levels of hockey.


Why specializing early in one sport is a bad idea

Athlete and sport specialization is a hot topic in long term athlete development for parents who want to pressure their children to become superstar professional athletes, but they should look at late specialization, sport sampling and early diversification rather than early specialization in sport.


My role as a minor hockey coach: developing athletic players

Encouraging 9- and 10-year-old kids to play other sports during the off-season will not only make them better hockey players, but also help to prevent overuse injuries and burn out.


Specializing in sport could fast track your kids to the hospital, not the major leagues

To help minimize the possibility of repetitive sports injury, sign your kids up for different activities that will allow them to perform a variety of movement skills.


Brent Sutter

Brent Sutter: True athletes make the best hockey players

NHL veteran Brent Sutter believes that kids who specialize in one sport too early hinder their development and limit opportunities to succeed. He emphasizes that true athletes remain active in a variety of sports.


Bobby Orr talks about what young hockey players need and deserve

Legendary hockey player Bobby Orr stresses the responsibility we all have in shaping a positive experience for kids, not just in hockey, but in other sports and activities as well.


Are complete athletes the best hockey players?

Nearly three-quarters of the players on Canada’s 2012 National Junior hockey team played a variety of sports while growing up. On average, they didn’t specialize in hockey until age 14.


Improving kids’ hockey: More players, better skills

Hockey Canada’s Corey McNabb talks about hockey skills development and spring hockey in the context of youth playoff hockey, and how playoffs affect developing skills during kids hockey season and pre-season.


NHL star Vincent Lecavalier walks a tightrope

Vincent Lecavalier, NHL star and captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning, shows kids how to do a tightrope activity, which teaches balance, one of the fundamental movement skills. It can help children become physically literate.


‘Selling the Dream’ shows parents why kids hockey should stay fun

The strength of the Ken Campbell book, Selling the Dream, is the real-life stories gathered by the authors that document families who uprooted their lives in the pursuit of a mythical hockey career that was far from guaranteed.


Parents screaming in the stands? Here’s what you can do

Respect Group delivers the Respect in Sport programs to teach parents and coaches how to behave with kids during kids sports and kids activities.


Hockey’s lighter side: No apple juice, please

It’s important to keep youth sports in perspective and remember that the enjoyment of playing the game ― and the fun stuff that goes with it ― is the most important thing.


Confessions of a hockey dad: Spring hockey

The decision to let young kids play spring hockey is not an easy one to make. Rob Klovance weighs the pros and cons and ultimately decides to find the positives in spring hockey.


Young hockey players in a face off

Six-year-old invited for select hockey

A parent asks if it’s a good idea for young kids to be on the ice 4 times a week, and Active for Life’s experts have the answer.


Canadian hockey in crisis? Ontario Minor Hockey looks at skills

Ontario Minor Hockey Association has created new hockey skills development programs designed to address challenges of hockey long-term player development (LTPD) in the youth hockey ranks similar to the issues that Brent Sutter has raised about skills learning.

What do you think?