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My 5-year-old wants to quit hockey

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02-06-2012, 08:59 AM
  #1
AngryBoss
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My 5-year-old wants to quit hockey

Well, it looks like my little 5-year-old wants to quit hockey.
I can't say I blame him.

Some history:

In his first year of Timbits our local hockey powers-that-be decided to remove their brains and change the program up completely.
They decided to take games away from the kids for most of the season.
They introduced half-ice games in February and the last 2 weeks they played full ice.
The whole purpose was to better develop their skills. It failed miserably. This was my fourth year helping with Mites and the kids in the first season of The Program didn't improve at all.
In fact, about 30% of the kids outright quit. The ones that stayed in were there because they were forced to be.
I heard more crying and complaining than I ever had.
Why? The practices were horrendous. 12 minutes of T-pushes. 12 minutes of C-cuts. 8 minutes of back-hand shots against the boards. 12 minutes of cross overs on the blueline.
They even took away the 'free time' at the beginning of the practices - where we dump pucks on the ice and let the kids have fun with them. I'd usually stand in a net to play goalie and the kids and I would have a hoot while they tried to score on me and I trash-talked them.
The convener saw no value in free-time so he'd either remove the pucks from the ice, or if they were given a puck to play with, they'd remove the nets forcing them to skate in a circle for 10 minutes with a puck. No British-Bulldog, no Asteroids, No Freeze-tag to end games. The practices were completely devoid of fun.
Parents complained. Volunteers, such as myself, complained. The convener didn't care.
I tried reasoning with him but it didn't work. I tried to point out that 4 and 5 year olds should be having fun first and foremost. If they don't, they'll quit.
And they did. This year they lost about 20 kids to neighboring towns. I was one of them.

This year I went to a different centre and it's run so much better. In fact, this centre's teams routinely kick the butt of my old centre and they've always allowed games for the youngest group.

The problem this year is that my son is on a horrible team. Despite having 4-weeks of evaluations to make fair teams, it didn't work. We get beat 30-1 every game. And I'm not exaggerating.
No changes have been made because kids don't want to be moved to different teams this late in the season.
That's fine.
Where my mistake was, was allowing them to label my kid an "A" player so he's in the Tyke division (mostly 6 and 7 year olds) instead of the Mites (mostly 4 and 5's).
My kid is a good skater. His puck handling is weak though. And he's a very late 5-year-old. He only turned 5 in October. So most games, he's playing against 6 and 7 year olds who are unbeleivable with the puck.
I'm not one of those crazy dads that forces my kids into power-skating, and spring & summer hockey. The only skating he gets is in his Timbit program and on our backyard rink.

But now he wants to quit hockey, and I'm depressed about it.
I'm not that upset that he doesn't care to play the sport, it's that he started off so gung-ho for it. Right before his first year in hockey, he was chewing off his own leg to get on the ice. He'd wear his equipment while playing, eating, even napping. It was so cute.
But then The Program destroyed nearly all his desire to play. He was gung-ho to start season 2 as long as he got to play games. But now he can barely touch the puck and has to skate his butt off to catch kids that have been in skates since they were 2, and also go to countless skating and hockey programs 12 months out of the year.
I just hate that this great little boy was so passionate about the game, and us idiot adults killed it for him.
I should also mention that he can't get enough of road hockey, basement hockey, pond-hockey, etc. He basically loves every form of hockey except for the organized kind.
I'm not going to lose any sleep over my youngest not playing hockey. What bothers me is how he DID want to play and couldn't wait. But that love was destroyed by dumb adults (me included).

It's too bad that there aren't any 'fun' programs for him to join. He plays basketball and baseball as well. Both those sports are shorter (12 weeks compared to 24), only once a week, better hours and there's a heavier emphasis on fun.
Why can't hockey do that?
I've tried contacting our local hockey board to form a "Pond Hockey" league. It would only be 12 weeks, once a week and no rules. Just screw around and have a great time.
But that would mean taking an hour of ice away from a precious travel or AE team and we can't have that.

I used to love hockey. I lived and breathed it. But over the past 2 years I've seen some very ugly things associated with minor hockey. And it's all because of stupid parents who take the game far too seriously.
If it was colder in my area, I'd just build a rink and let my kids skate on that for 4 months of the year. Screw organized hockey. But we don't have that luxery where I live.

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02-06-2012, 09:45 AM
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pelts35.com
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As the father of a 6-year old that is about to start mites in the spring, this post frightens me a little bit. Right now my son is on the ice 3-4 times a week and absolutely loves it. I hope that I'm not posting something like this next year.

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02-06-2012, 09:55 AM
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My daughter started in a parks and rec Learn to Play when she was 6. She was so excited at first. The program turned out to be a lot like what you describe. The only games-type thing they did was to throw one puck out and make all 20 kids "scrimmage" at the same time (aka fight over it).

She refused to ever play again.

My daughter found other sports over the years that she loved (she's 17 now), so that's fine, but I am a bit sad that hockey got ruined for her like that.

Some people just don't have a clue how to teach kids.

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02-06-2012, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pelts35.com View Post
As the father of a 6-year old that is about to start mites in the spring, this post frightens me a little bit. Right now my son is on the ice 3-4 times a week and absolutely loves it. I hope that I'm not posting something like this next year.
I pray you don't either.
Every kid is different. Some kids love hockey so much they don't care if they're doing 55 straight minutes of cross-overs.
But my son isn't like that. He just wants to have fun.

How good a program is depends on the people that run it and what their goals or agendas are.
I've found that in our small little Canadian community hockey is treated as a completely different animal than any other sport.
The same parents and organizers that are foaming at the mouth during a house-league scrimmage are napping at their sons baseball game, or are completely absent during basketball season.

I think hockey in my area would be a lot more enjoyable if parents treated it like they did the other sports.
Not one of these kids will make the NHL, and if the same trend of the last 15 years continues, only 1 of these kids will play even Junior C.

Hopefully your Mite convener has the kids best interest at heart.
It's sad to say, but in our area, that kind of person is few and far between.
They'd rather shun or discourage 10 kids in order to build 1 super player. That's a trade-off they'd make any day.

I think what bothers me most about how much our Program changed was that our convener is too dumb to realize that travel calibre players aren't created at the Timbit level.
Every single kid playing on a travel team is playing or practicing outside of the minor hockey program. They're in powerskating classes, hockey skills programs, playing spring hockey, or even getting time on the local skating treadmill.

So why not let these small, young kids just have fun?
The year prior to The Program taking affect, we would do lots of fun drills in practices and end every practice with 10 minutes of Cops-N-Robbers or British-Bulldog.
The kids LOVED those. And if you watched closely, you'd see that the kids were developing incredible skills while doing those games; stopping, starting, getting up, cuts, turns, head on a swivel, etc.
But I digress.

Good luck with your son. I hope he enjoys his time. I'm sure he will.

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02-06-2012, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goalie29 View Post
My daughter started in a parks and rec Learn to Play when she was 6. She was so excited at first. The program turned out to be a lot like what you describe. The only games-type thing they did was to throw one puck out and make all 20 kids "scrimmage" at the same time (aka fight over it).

She refused to ever play again.

My daughter found other sports over the years that she loved (she's 17 now), so that's fine, but I am a bit sad that hockey got ruined for her like that.

Some people just don't have a clue how to teach kids.
And that's the biggest problem.
It's almost like when these kids put on a helmet they fail to see that it's a small child inside of it.
They treat them like adults and because it's hockey, and hockey is to be taken so seriously, they expect these kids to train and play hockey like a grown adult.

It's sad.
I love how much my sons adore baseball and basketball. I know they'd feel the same way about hockey if the people in charge would lighten up.

I've been a volunteer/coach for all of my kids hockey teams (and all their other sports too) and I always did my best to make sure the kids loved being out there.
But it's tough to do that when other volunteers, or the convener, do whatever they can to handcuff your ability to do that. It's a shame.

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02-06-2012, 10:15 AM
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Wow...the changes that were made make it seem like they're in China preparing little kids for the Olympics.

It really sucks that his passion for the game has been eroded, but I can't blame him. The lack of fair teams is unforgivable at that age. I know when I played, we lost 3 of our players about halfway through the season because our team was dominating everyone. We still ended up winning, but the games became much closer.

At that age, kids should just have fun. Sure, it could potentially help their future NHL careers if they work on skills instead of having fun in practice. Then again, at that age the kids aren't that physically mature and aren't able to take full advantage of skills work. What's the use of working on backhands if they don't have the strength to use it?

Anyways, I think turning away potential players and killing the drive in these kids more than cancels out the perceived benefits.

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02-06-2012, 10:24 AM
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tarheelhockey
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Just keep playing in other forms (basement, street, etc.). The same basic skills will form, fun will be had, and eventually you'll find other league opportunities.

At least your kid has the sense to walk away.

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02-06-2012, 10:30 AM
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With regards to my son, we just joined a local skating club that is very family oriented. Right now he is playing in their learn to play program where they split the kids up based on age/skill level in 3 groups. For the first 30 minutes, it's skating and drills and the last 15 minutes are either scrimmages or fun races. Immediately after learn to play is "family hockey" where kids and parents come out to play.

Yesterday since I played there in the morning I kept my goalie gear on and went out and set up in net for about an hour or so, basically in the butterfly as 10 kids would shoot on me at the same time.

As my son starts mites in the spring I hope that the environment continues to be fun.

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02-06-2012, 10:31 AM
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AngryBoss
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
Just keep playing in other forms (basement, street, etc.). The same basic skills will form, fun will be had, and eventually you'll find other league opportunities.

At least your kid has the sense to walk away.
LOL. Very true.
At first, the poor kid was too scared to tell my wife and I. He thought we'd be very upset.
I think he was pretty relieved when I just gave him a hug and told him that I don't care at all and that we could still have fun playing road hockey and on our backyard rink.

My wife on the other hand, hahaha. She REALLY wants him to stick with it. Hahaha. I never thought it'd see this day coming.

But I refuse to be that dad that forces their kid on the ice. I've seen too many fathers strong-arm their kids and then those kids don't even want to look at a pair of skates when they hit highschool.

My dream was always to have my kids learn the sport well enough so that they could join me in my pick-up games. I hope that can still happen.
Playing with my boys, and then grabbing some pizza and wings afterward would be Heaven to me.

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02-06-2012, 10:31 AM
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Are there any spring hockey programs that might be to his liking? Here, there are 4-on-4 leagues in April-May that start after organized hockey finishes. They are about as casual as they come - games every 7 days, no practices, civilized ice times, no whistles just roll the lines and the team that gets scored on gets to take the puck out of their zone. It puts the fun back in hockey. Personally I wish they offered these leagues year-round.

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02-06-2012, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inkling View Post
Are there any spring hockey programs that might be to his liking? Here, there are 4-on-4 leagues in April-May that start after organized hockey finishes. They are about as casual as they come - games every 7 days, no practices, civilized ice times, no whistles just roll the lines and the team that gets scored on gets to take the puck out of their zone. It puts the fun back in hockey. Personally I wish they offered these leagues year-round.
That sounds fantastic! I'm not sure if we have anything like that. I might have to look into it.

That's precisely what I wish they'd offer during the winter.

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02-06-2012, 11:25 AM
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Really sorry to hear about that experience.

I think the right way to be a good hockey dad is to encourage your kid to be active, have a good attitude, and learn a good work ethic. Those three things, and that's it. That's all you can control.

That hockey organization sounds terrible, putting too much pressure and stress on the kids. Half ice is great, skating instruction is great, but after about 15 minutes at that age...just drop the pucks and have fun!

If I were in your shoes, I'd give him a break from the organized hockey this year. Explain the situation (as best you can) but encourage him to keep playing basement/road/shinny hockey. And look for a more relaxed situation next year.

At some point he will have to decide if he wants to put in the work of organized hockey, work being a relative term, but 5 is still pretty young, especially after that bad experience.

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02-06-2012, 11:29 AM
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AngryBoss
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pelts35.com View Post
With regards to my son, we just joined a local skating club that is very family oriented. Right now he is playing in their learn to play program where they split the kids up based on age/skill level in 3 groups. For the first 30 minutes, it's skating and drills and the last 15 minutes are either scrimmages or fun races. Immediately after learn to play is "family hockey" where kids and parents come out to play.

Yesterday since I played there in the morning I kept my goalie gear on and went out and set up in net for about an hour or so, basically in the butterfly as 10 kids would shoot on me at the same time.

As my son starts mites in the spring I hope that the environment continues to be fun.
Wow, that sounds like an awesome beginners program.

Prior to this new Program being introduced, ours was kind of the same (minus the parents at the end).
We'd start with 10 minutes of free-time, then do 10 minutes of full ice skating, then we split into 3 stations with 5 minutes at each.
The last 15 minutes we'd play fun games, scrimmages, etc. The atmosphere was light, fun and the kids all had a blast.
Not only that, but the kids developed a lot faster than they did in The Program.
Part of the reason was that kids actually wanted to come back. We ran at a 90% attendance rate.
During The Program, we were at 60%.
You can't build super players if they're not showing up to the rink.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarick View Post
Really sorry to hear about that experience.

I think the right way to be a good hockey dad is to encourage your kid to be active, have a good attitude, and learn a good work ethic. Those three things, and that's it. That's all you can control.

That hockey organization sounds terrible, putting too much pressure and stress on the kids. Half ice is great, skating instruction is great, but after about 15 minutes at that age...just drop the pucks and have fun!

If I were in your shoes, I'd give him a break from the organized hockey this year. Explain the situation (as best you can) but encourage him to keep playing basement/road/shinny hockey. And look for a more relaxed situation next year.

At some point he will have to decide if he wants to put in the work of organized hockey, work being a relative term, but 5 is still pretty young, especially after that bad experience.
That's the thing. At his age, it should never be considered work. It should about the purity of the sport.
Pond hockey is the very essence of the sport. We need to have that same concept when getting these young kids on the ice.
My brother runs a Mini-basketball program for kids aged 5-7. He runs very simple and basic drills and always adds an element of fun to each drill.
The day wraps up with a small 15-minute game.
The kids can't get enough. They absolutely love it and he actually has to turn kids away as we only have so much room.
His entire philosophy is to make sure the kids are having a good time, while they learn the simple basics of the sport. If they don't have fun, they won't be back.
There's now a huge waiting list to get into Mini-ball. Word of mouth has spread and barely any of the kids drop out after their first year in it.
Both my kids can't get enough basketball and it all started with this fun program my brother's helped form. They couldn't wait to get back to the courts.
That's how it should be with hockey too.
What blew my mind is when the convener of this Timbit program told me "fun has nothing to do with it". He honestly said that.
He truthfully couldn't fathom how fun needed to be part of the equation when building hockey players. It's hockey afterall, not some after-school fun activity!


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02-06-2012, 11:42 AM
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Exactly, it's more for when they get to be mite/squirt age. Or in Canada, novice/atom. There will be times organized hockey crosses from fun into work, and you develop that work ethic and perseverance. But not at 5...closer to 8-10.

If you get a chance, watch these videos. Love his attitude and approach. It's dated but still great.

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02-06-2012, 11:51 AM
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Youve failed as a parent

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02-06-2012, 11:53 AM
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AngryBoss
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarick View Post
Exactly, it's more for when they get to be mite/squirt age. Or in Canada, novice/atom. There will be times organized hockey crosses from fun into work, and you develop that work ethic and perseverance. But not at 5...closer to 8-10.

If you get a chance, watch these videos. Love his attitude and approach. It's dated but still great.
Those are awesome video's! Great stuff, thanks for sharing!

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02-06-2012, 12:38 PM
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You don't need league play to play hockey. Let him decompress and then take him out to some skate and shoots and just mess around with him. Be very low key and make it fun again. Let him come back when he wants to; when he realizes again how fun it is.

My son quit at 6 and started again at 10. Now he loves the sport. I don't think he would feel the same way today if he had kept playing, given the type of personality he has. It had to be fun for him and he had to do it on his own terms. Some kids are like that.

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02-06-2012, 01:22 PM
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You don't need league play to play hockey. Let him decompress and then take him out to some skate and shoots and just mess around with him. Be very low key and make it fun again. Let him come back when he wants to; when he realizes again how fun it is.

My son quit at 6 and started again at 10. Now he loves the sport. I don't think he would feel the same way today if he had kept playing, given the type of personality he has. It had to be fun for him and he had to do it on his own terms. Some kids are like that.
That sounds like both my sons.
My oldest announced his retirement from Novice hockey after this year, haha.
It's not his bag either. He loves pond hockey and I have to drag him off our backyard rink. But he needs it to be non-structured. I'm fine with that too. And I could see him going back to hockey at some point. But I'm not pushing him.

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02-06-2012, 01:29 PM
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Sad to read this, at that age, and really any age- having fun is what it is all about. As we get older competing and winning is fun, but at that age they just want to mess around.

I was in the locker room one day- and I heard a parent telling his son (who appears to be 7-9) to "go apologize to his goalie coach for sucking today." Seriously- he's not going to play in the NHL, let him have fun... that's what it is all about.

I'm not a parent, and I've never trained kids- but if he loves hockey but doesn't want to play league let him take a season off, keep playing floor hockey- set him up shooting pucks in the driveway and try to get him back into it in a year?

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02-06-2012, 01:48 PM
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Sad to read this, at that age, and really any age- having fun is what it is all about. As we get older competing and winning is fun, but at that age they just want to mess around.

I was in the locker room one day- and I heard a parent telling his son (who appears to be 7-9) to "go apologize to his goalie coach for sucking today." Seriously- he's not going to play in the NHL, let him have fun... that's what it is all about.

I'm not a parent, and I've never trained kids- but if he loves hockey but doesn't want to play league let him take a season off, keep playing floor hockey- set him up shooting pucks in the driveway and try to get him back into it in a year?
That's good advice and I really want to. It's my wife that needs convincing of him taking a year off.
And as I'm typing this, my wife emails me saying that our son just finished telling his grandfather how much he loves hockey. Go figure.

I have a similar story about a hockey parent. On this same team, there's a 6-year-old who gets advice from his dad before every game.
This past weekend, he told his son to always come back and 'protect the house' to help his team. "With great defense, offensive chances will increase".
I had to stifle my laugh. One look on that kids face and all I could see was "I wonder what treat I'll get with my Happy Meal after the game?", hahaha.
He's a first time hockey parent, and I know he's never played hockey himself.
Sometimes that's a deadly combination.

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02-06-2012, 01:59 PM
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Is there no house league for the little kids in your area? When I was little I just played house league, I think it was something like 1 game a week, and 1 practice every 2nd week or so, it was lots of fun. I don't think there's any need to do hardcore work on skills with 5 year olds, at that age it's just about developing a love for the game, improving specific skills can come later.

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02-06-2012, 02:07 PM
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Is there no house league for the little kids in your area? When I was little I just played house league, I think it was something like 1 game a week, and 1 practice every 2nd week or so, it was lots of fun. I don't think there's any need to do hardcore work on skills with 5 year olds, at that age it's just about developing a love for the game, improving specific skills can come later.
LOL, this is supposed to be houseleague.

At the end of that year, one parent came up to me and said "If I wanted my kid to perfect C-cuts and T-pushes instead of playing hockey games, I would have taken him to Canskate so he could learn from certified pro's, not Timbit hockey being run by hockey parents".

He didn't mean to insult me or the other volunteers but he was absolutely right.
If you can't offer games, why not spend less money, and one less night a week and put them in a program with certified instructors?

I could go on and on about what a horrible program it is.
Even today, I get stopped by parents who have their kids in that program and they hate it.
I just shrug and tell them to go to a different centre like I did. Most parents are too lazy for that though. I knew my kid would end up hating hockey if I stayed, and I know a few kids that did stay who are begging to quit now too.
Isn't hockey in small, rural Canadian towns awesome!?!?

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02-06-2012, 02:19 PM
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Quote:
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Isn't hockey in small, rural Canadian towns awesome!?!?
Down here in South Louisiana it seems we have a better youth hockey program, lol. Never thought I'd be able to say that. I don't spend much time around the rink when the kids are playing but they are normally clearing off the ice before a beer league game or something, and it appears they are working on skills- but at the end they do a lot of the fun drills and all the kids come off the ice looking like they had a great time (this is at both our rinks).

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02-06-2012, 02:23 PM
  #24
Stickmata
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I assist on my son's house league PeeWee team. Our rink follows ADM, so there are a lot of small drills and at least one, mostly pure fun drill every practice. Last week, the first 10 minutes was a game of full ice soccer with two full teams on the ice and two soccer balls. It was total chaos and one of our coaches was pissed at the league for wasting time on it. Funny thing was, after practice it was all the kids wanted to talk about. They loved it and it got them in a good mood for the rest of the practice. Sometimes, you just gotta let them be kids.

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Old
02-06-2012, 02:34 PM
  #25
Jarick
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Were they on skates for that soccer game? Sticks?

Sounds like a great way to get kids to improve their balance, skating, and agility to me.

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