Early in 2014 we published an article about hockey’s “new normal” in which we expressed the need for hockey’s grassroots – parents and coaches at the youth level — to evolve its perspective on how hockey is taught to kids.
Our follow-up article describes how the three fundamental elements of hockey – skills, speed, and grit — are being redefined in this “new and improved” hockey.
Like most sports, the way the game of hockey is played at its highest levels influences the way it’s taught to children. So here are some things parents, coaches, and minor hockey associations can do to help kids.
- Know what goes into a quality hockey program.
- Visit Hockey Canada’s website or the site of your provincial hockey association for information about the Long Term Player Development (LTPD) model.
- Know what is fair to expect for your child’s age and level of involvement, and most of all, be patient and kind.
- Know and teach the three components of the new normal: effective skills, purposeful speed, and the competency and willingness to compete.
- Do it for one simple reason: these things make the game more fun and exciting for kids.
- At the same time, keep your coaching age-appropriate and relevant for the kids. To do so, keep an open mind and seek the latest techniques and programs available.
- Don’t measure the quality of your coaching by victories. They don’t last. Instead, measure your coaching by how much kids develop their skills, how engaged they are (a sure sign they’re enjoying themselves), and how much their love of the game grows during the time you have the privilege to coach them.
Minor hockey associations
- Educate parents and coaches about the new normal and what constitutes a quality program for each age group.
- Educate coaches about the new programs available. Many of them spend countless hours playing hockey, but the game they learned years ago has evolved.
- Make sure coaches are aware and have access to new tools and resources like the Hockey Canada Drill Hub.
Why it matters
This will lead to kids who will have the skills to compete in the “new normal” of hockey. It will also lead to the greatest gift you can deliver as a coach and parents: Players for life.