Since this is my first hockey coaching focused post, I want to explain a little about my background. I started coaching youth hockey when Austin started the learn-to-play and skills development classes in 2013. I have continued to coach as Austin moved to mites (8-and-under) hockey. To be eligible to coach, I started going through the USA Hockey coaching education and certification program. I have achieved Level 4 certification and completed the requisite mites age-specific module. I believe in the American Development Model (ADM) as a process to support long-term athlete development. Through the ADM, USA Hockey has provided the American hockey community with some great tools to keep kids in hockey and excelling in their hockey development. USA Hockey also provides a large amount of great resources to help youth hockey organizations, coaches, and parents implement the ADM. At the end of these coaching posts, I will include a couple of links to resources that I found interesting or useful.
No spring/summer hockey; Not even camps
As we get closer to the end of the mites season and start looking forward to spring sports and the next fall hockey season, I get a ton of questions about what the next steps should be for our mites in their hockey development.
Many parents have asked what Austin’s plans are for spring sports. Our family rule is hockey is a fall and winter sport. That’s 6 months of the year. That’s a long season. In the spring we offer alternative sports for Austin. We let him choose with the only constraint being, no hockey. Last year he wanted to play soccer. This year he wants to play tennis. I could not be more thrilled. We should all be focusing on total athlete development for our kids that are younger than 14 (and likely younger than 16-18); not hockey specific development. I’m a big advocate for kids sampling 2-3 different sports throughout the year. It keeps them active and if you’re truly concerned about their hockey development, it’s the way to go. Other invasion sports like soccer and basketball work on speed, transition, and game awareness. Baseball, golf, and tennis do wonders for hand-eye coordination. Swimming is great for overall health and fitness. Participating in a variety of activities prevents hockey burn out and results in a well-rounded athlete who will have fun finding success in any activity; not just hockey.
To answer the question, Austin decided he wants to play tennis in the spring. When summer rolls around, he plays outside and goes to the pool. He doesn’t go to any summer hockey camps. He doesn’t get back on the ice until August at the earliest. Even as a 7-year-old, Austin will sometimes complain about busy parts of the hockey season schedule. Giving him options away from the rink in the spring has kept him very interested in hockey and coming back to the ice in the fall.
When did NHL players begin specializing? Later than you think. – American NHLers didn’t start specializing in hockey until their high school years.
Four Ways Playing Multiple Sports Can Help Your Child Become A Better Athlete – The mental and physical benefits are huge.
How David Backes’ Parents Raised an Olympian – Pay attention to the first point, “In Multiple Sports”.
U.S. women were multi-sport athletes before focusing on soccer – World Cup winners participated in multiple sports to avoid burn out and became better athletes.