Thread: Coaches: Mini Mites
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11-03-2013, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarick View Post
Anyone have experience working with mini mites?

I signed my son up for a program but it turns out they don't have any coaches. So we've got a bunch of parents volunteering to run things including myself. Luckily one guy is a certified coach and teacher, but the rest of us are winging it.

Any tips working with the kids?
Here's my $0.02

I never actually personally coached the mini-mites, but this is my second year as a mite coach and have worked "Try Hockey for Free" sessions the past couple years, so, that covers the spectrum you'll see. I watched for two years while my son was in learn to play programs for a number of reasons, but wanted to get my hands dirty the past two years. I'll do point form to be brief

1) Try to keep it fun as much as possible. I know this seems obvious, but what is fun to a 20 or 30 or 40 year old if often different than a 5, 6 or 7 yr old. Lots of adults realize this outside of hockey, but seem to think it doesn't apply on the ice. So, try to think like a 5 yr old and think what would be fun. They typically don't get sarcasm, so, being a hard ass in a funny way often doesn't come across to mini mites. They typically don't get it.

2) Be patient. Very patient. Some kids will progress very fast and pick stuff up quick, but lots won't. It can get very frustrating if you don't keep things in context, so, just try and be patient.

3) KI(v)SS. Keep IT very Simple Stupid (nothing personal, it's a phrase). For example, at the last Try Hockey for Free we did, one of the coaches wanted to do Wisconsins, simple enough, right? I told him I thought it was too much. We should keep the passes shorter and small skating areas. Of course, I was right. Heck, Mites have trouble with Wisconsins some times. The point is, it's very complicated skating and using a stick and hitting a puck ... all at the same time. If you can do this, you sometimes forget, so, things need to be very very simple.

4) Again.. keep it fun.

5) Skating. Work on skating. There's a long story to this, but I think most mini mite programs concentrate on trying to show the parents the kids are "learning to play hockey" and neglect the skating aspect of things. The best time to learn to skate is, well, as young as possible, so, emphasize it as much as possible. Stick handling can be learned later.

6) USA hockey has lots of resources for coaches. There's a great debate within the hockey world right now about the ADM etc etc, but I'll tell you as a coach who has multiple coaching certs, their coaching support materials/network is second to none. In fact, they are being held up to the other USOC NGBs right now as an example of excellence. So, utilize their training plans and instructional materials as much as you can. It can make your life easier since you'll be busy trying to herd cats at practice.

7) Back to the fun aspect of things, most practice plans at USAH have a 5 min fun thing at the end. This is something that should not be forgotten even if you don't use the USAH materials. Focus on the skills/drills first, then finish with games and fun stuff (sharks/minnows, asteroids) and kids will remember the fun stuff and stay engaged. A "scrimmage" or game like situation in the middle as one of the stations is essential to me as well. Make them feel like they are "playing" instead of practicing and they'll stay interested.

I could go on and on, but those are the main points, I think. Let me know if you need anything else though, we have a great youth program here, so, I'd be happy to pay it forward if I can.

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