Last week I read an article in the Buffalo News about the new mandate implemented by USA Hockey for the 2013-2014 season – a move to cross-ice and half-ice games for kids 8 and under. Basically they finally figured out that by modifying the environment to allow kids to be successful kids would have fun and ultimately stay involved! Wow, that’s a novel idea.
Now as the mandate becomes a reality, there are groups of parents and coaches who are breaking away so their kids can play full-rink ice-hockey. These are probably the folks who believe that their kids need full-ice games, travel programs and year-round ice hockey specialization to get a college scholarship or make it to the NHL. Maybe it’s time for a reality check – a huge number drop out around the age 8 and a tiny minority will make hockey their career.
Hopefully, the majority of parents (even those who are ice-hockey enthusiasts) will embrace the changes to make the playing conditions conducive for skill development and FUN!
To find some middle ground, I would like to suggest an easy solution. Don’t make a judgment about the change. Instead, embrace it! Sign your little ones up for the cross-ice and half-ice games. Encourage them to have FUN, learn the skills and be good sports (this means you too must demonstrate good sportsmanship).
At the end of the season, ask them two simple questions: Did you have fun this season? Do you want to play again? Let THEIR answers drive your opinions.
You may be surprised to hear their honest answers.
My bet is that they will be ready to play again!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Alliance for Youth Sports.
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