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11-03-2013, 11:08 AM
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Jarick
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Mini Mites

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?

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11-03-2013, 12:38 PM
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Canadiens1958
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Four Year Olds

Quote:
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?
The association should have a bank of drills and teaching aids that are age appropriate. Use these after talking to coaches at the next level to get feedback about effectiveness.

Quebec has a MAHG program for the 4-6 year olds, half rink. Assuming mini mite is the 4 year olds, perhaps with advanced 3 year olds. Learn to Skate program should be a pre-requisite but easy to work around.

First and foremost make it fun for the youngsters. Keep them active and moving. If running drills with stations watch the youngsters in line. If a few start looking around they are getting bored. Not a good sign.

Let the youngster play hockey for about 1/3-1/2 of the practice. Experiment with positions, everyone plays goalie, forward, dmen during the season.

Evaluations, necessary evil. Run them from weakest to strongest otherwise the weaker youngsters tune out and go thru the motions.

Most important, everyone should have fun.

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11-03-2013, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
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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11-03-2013, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
The association should have a bank of drills and teaching aids that are age appropriate. Use these after talking to coaches at the next level to get feedback about effectiveness.
Should and do are two different things. You are in Quebec and things are done much differently in the states in most associations/rinks. Quite often, there is very little continuity between years and levels. In the youth association there may or may not be a "big picture", but from my experience, there isn't. The plans I was referring to come from USAH, which has begun to fill in these types of gaps in the US youth programs.

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Quebec has a MAHG program for the 4-6 year olds, half rink. Assuming mini mite is the 4 year olds, perhaps with advanced 3 year olds. Learn to Skate program should be a pre-requisite but easy to work around.
That was a point I was alluding to earlier, about the learn to skate. In the US, mini-mites is 4-7, sometimes 8 if a real beginner. That being said, we have 7 and 8 year olds in Mite who have little if any skating experience prior to Mites. In my view, a learn to skate for a half a year, maybe a year should be requisite before getting into a more structured hockey program. At the Mite level, and above, there are isn't enough time to focus on skating fundamentals and those who are starting behind are left behind. They'll ultimately drop out of the sport, I suspect, because they can't keep up skating wise. At the same time, the competent to good skaters "tune out" while waiting for those who can barely stand up to get from one end of the rink to the other.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
First and foremost make it fun for the youngsters. Keep them active and moving. If running drills with stations watch the youngsters in line. If a few start looking around they are getting bored. Not a good sign.

Let the youngster play hockey for about 1/3-1/2 of the practice. Experiment with positions, everyone plays goalie, forward, dmen during the season.

Evaluations, necessary evil. Run them from weakest to strongest otherwise the weaker youngsters tune out and go thru the motions.

Most important, everyone should have fun.
I agree, at the mini mite level, avoid standing around at all cost. Then it ends up like a baseball practice where they look around and kick dirt or each other. If you (the OP) have a bunch of parents pitching in, then a small stations approach should work great.

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11-04-2013, 01:20 PM
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FUN FUN FUN

After three kids and three years of working with mini-mites, it's got to be about making it fun. Here's your opportunity to set the hook and keep them coming back for more.

DON'T yell at these kids. Laugh, smile and constantly compliment good play. Sometimes you will have to address kids that aren't playing nice and you can send them to the penalty box. Be consistent with these kids but when they do the right thing, make sure they hear about it with positive encouragement.

If you are a parent coach, enjoy every second and let them progress at their own speed; not yours. My daughter used to use her stick as a microphone in the middle of the ice doing her best Katy Perry impression. I used to get so irritated at this that she was not "taking hockey seriously". Today she is a solid defenceman and those goofy days are long past.

If you are a club coach, be nice to the parent coaches and let them participate in their child's development. It won't be long and parents will be back on the bench. It is truly a gift to be be a part of these early days of development.

Here are my favorites:

- 4-5" rubber balls: We use these for dodge ball and other games we could come up with. Kids LOVE these games and they will skate harder than ever when they are in play.

- Ringettes: 10 kids 5 ringettes. Kids turn their sticks upside down and and play keepaway. Teaches possession skills, heads up, body contact and the beginnings of stick checks. Again, kids love the rings.

- Obstacle courses: Take two cones and tape a stick to the top. Use that clear sock tape to keep the stick on because the kids will bang into the cones 7 times out of 10. Make them do a superman dive and then build up a race track for them to skate around with sticks to jump over. They will do this all day.

- Red Light Green light. From side to side. Like other posters have said, there are many games to do here that are widely documented.

- Play goalie with them and let them score 9 out of 10 times. For the better players, you can shut them down a little more often.

- Scrimmages: let them play. Don't worry so much about positioning. This is how it was on the pond. I would encourage you to try and balance the teams if possible. Scrimmage should be a part of every practice.

Yeah it can be a challenge at times and seem like you are herding cats but if you get into it and make sure you are keeping it fun, everyone will benefit.

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11-04-2013, 01:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jive Time View Post
FUN FUN FUN

After three kids and three years of working with mini-mites, it's got to be about making it fun. Here's your opportunity to set the hook and keep them coming back for more.

DON'T yell at these kids. Laugh, smile and constantly compliment good play. Sometimes you will have to address kids that aren't playing nice and you can send them to the penalty box. Be consistent with these kids but when they do the right thing, make sure they hear about it with positive encouragement.

If you are a parent coach, enjoy every second and let them progress at their own speed; not yours. My daughter used to use her stick as a microphone in the middle of the ice doing her best Katy Perry impression. I used to get so irritated at this that she was not "taking hockey seriously". Today she is a solid defenceman and those goofy days are long past.

If you are a club coach, be nice to the parent coaches and let them participate in their child's development. It won't be long and parents will be back on the bench. It is truly a gift to be be a part of these early days of development.

Here are my favorites:

- 4-5" rubber balls: We use these for dodge ball and other games we could come up with. Kids LOVE these games and they will skate harder than ever when they are in play.

- Ringettes: 10 kids 5 ringettes. Kids turn their sticks upside down and and play keepaway. Teaches possession skills, heads up, body contact and the beginnings of stick checks. Again, kids love the rings.

- Obstacle courses: Take two cones and tape a stick to the top. Use that clear sock tape to keep the stick on because the kids will bang into the cones 7 times out of 10. Make them do a superman dive and then build up a race track for them to skate around with sticks to jump over. They will do this all day.

- Red Light Green light. From side to side. Like other posters have said, there are many games to do here that are widely documented.

- Play goalie with them and let them score 9 out of 10 times. For the better players, you can shut them down a little more often.

- Scrimmages: let them play. Don't worry so much about positioning. This is how it was on the pond. I would encourage you to try and balance the teams if possible. Scrimmage should be a part of every practice.

Yeah it can be a challenge at times and seem like you are herding cats but if you get into it and make sure you are keeping it fun, everyone will benefit.
One word,.. yep. Pretty much spot on!

A lot of these points will be debated by others, but IMO this is the approach you should take and it will keep them coming back for more.

Also, I reiterate ringette. It's really a great way for kids to learn to play heads up and lifting sticks at the same time. It lets them explore creativity without having to worry about puck control. That will come later.

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11-06-2013, 03:47 PM
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We are going to have a coach that will run everything in terms of organizing drills and what not, so I'll just be an on-ice helper.

I would guess how I coach would be like my parenting style. I'm mellow and patient and try to get kids to have fun. Last weekend trying to get kids to stand up, I'd pretend like I'm falling over and then wipe out and slide across the ice, or pretend to race them and then fall over, etc.

The hard part will be keeping the kids who are struggling interested...there are a few (including my son) who can't stand up at all and get burned out after 10 minutes or so. I'm not sure if I should get some big cones or chairs or something so at least they have a break.

Also have to get some kind of clothes to wear on the ice, like a track suit or something that's waterproof. Lots of kneeling on the ice and it's cold and wet!

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11-06-2013, 04:27 PM
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Quote:
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I would guess how I coach would be like my parenting style. I'm mellow and patient and try to get kids to have fun. Last weekend trying to get kids to stand up, I'd pretend like I'm falling over and then wipe out and slide across the ice, or pretend to race them and then fall over, etc.
I personally wouldn't take this approach. Regardless of how YOU perceive your role on the ice, at their age they look up to you as a competent, in-charge coach and adult. Be that.

With kids who are struggling to even stand up... Every kid is different, their enjoyment and frustration have different sources, so one size can't fit all. And I'm not experienced teaching kids how to skate.

But something that guides me: My 3 year old daughter is starting to skate and when she falls, I find we get a better response from her if we offer her a firm/unmoving hand/arm to use to pull herself up vs picking her up and putting her on her feet. She can often get to her feet on her own now. (A sight to see.)

Your job is to illustrate to them that they are going to improve/can learn X. That will keep them engaged and smiling while avoiding frustration and burnout.

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Also have to get some kind of clothes to wear on the ice, like a track suit or something that's waterproof. Lots of kneeling on the ice and it's cold and wet!
I would suggest something like volleyball knee pads as well.

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11-06-2013, 05:07 PM
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Well yeah most of the time I'm helping the kids. But if I see someone start to get bored or frustrated I would try to engage them by being silly.

I did find the hand thing to help too. A few kids were able to get themselves up just grabbing the hand and it helped them figure out how to do it by themselves. A couple kids were able to get up holding on to an outstretched hockey stick.

One frustrating thing was that there were two kids who couldn't stand up by themselves last session...including my son. It turns out the only coaches who were able to help them were me and the other kid's mom. So we are trying to teach our own kids to stand up and skate, which is ridiculous.

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11-06-2013, 05:16 PM
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how many kids? split them into groups of 4-5 based off their skills set, at this age, skating. lots of repitition. I found alot of success getting the kids to chase the coach or playing what time is it mr wolf. once the kids are thinking about the game and not the physical movement of skating they improve rapidly.

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11-06-2013, 05:20 PM
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as for standing up, drop the stick and get them to get up tall on their knees, put one skate on the ground and push with both hands on their knee. it usually takes 5-6 tries before they get it once. then drill it for 4-5 mins, 85% of you kids will stand up on their own. then you give them theor stick back and use the exact same approach but instead of hands on knees, stick accross knees. it took us 2 practices to get 16 kids standing up on their own. then we make it a game.

coach makes all the kids lay on their backs and then tells them to stand up and skate towards the other boards or blueline etc. but they cant let the coach see them so they can only move when he turns his back. then when coach turns around they all fall down again. repeat

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11-06-2013, 06:54 PM
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Time

Very quickly you will recognize which approach is best for each youngster. With some its humour, others its the challange, the serious approach, etc. Time and flexibility is a must in this regard.

Standing(or why I love learn to skate programs). Youngsters learn differently. Some by doing, some by instruction, some by watching(usually younger siblings), some at random, etc. Some require different or varied approaches depending on the skill or situation. Still youngsters will drift back to their roots for basics skills.

Have the youngsters sit on the floor and ask them to stand-up. Each will do it in the fashion they find easiest. Tell the youngster it is like standing after sitting on the floor. Repeat should they fall on the ice.


Last edited by Canadiens1958: 11-12-2013 at 02:29 PM.
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11-07-2013, 11:52 AM
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as for standing up, drop the stick and get them to get up tall on their knees, put one skate on the ground and push with both hands on their knee. it usually takes 5-6 tries before they get it once. then drill it for 4-5 mins, 85% of you kids will stand up on their own. then you give them theor stick back and use the exact same approach but instead of hands on knees, stick accross knees. it took us 2 practices to get 16 kids standing up on their own. then we make it a game.
This is the proper way to get them to stand up. No hands on the ice when the kids are standing up. If there is someone having difficulties, kneel in front of them and put your hand out. Them them to put one of their hands on your hand to push on to get up.

Also make sure you teach them how to fall properly. If they are falling forward, chin up, hands out. If they are falling backwards, tuck the chin down. Helmets are to never hit the ice. Simeon says is a great game for practicing.

I am also working with a group this year and have started making them step backwards and glide backwards by pushing off the boards. None of the kids can skate well forwards so not being able to skate backwards well is not a concern for them. It is going very well so far.

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11-07-2013, 03:21 PM
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as for standing up, drop the stick and get them to get up tall on their knees, put one skate on the ground and push with both hands on their knee. it usually takes 5-6 tries before they get it once. then drill it for 4-5 mins, 85% of you kids will stand up on their own. then you give them theor stick back and use the exact same approach but instead of hands on knees, stick accross knees. it took us 2 practices to get 16 kids standing up on their own. then we make it a game.

coach makes all the kids lay on their backs and then tells them to stand up and skate towards the other boards or blueline etc. but they cant let the coach see them so they can only move when he turns his back. then when coach turns around they all fall down again. repeat
Thanks, that's huge! The coach had them more in a dog position. I couldn't quite explain that they need their weight more underneath them rather than sprawled out. I will have my kid work on that a bit at home tomorrow and hopefully it works out this weekend!

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11-12-2013, 11:03 AM
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Thanks, that's huge! The coach had them more in a dog position. I couldn't quite explain that they need their weight more underneath them rather than sprawled out. I will have my kid work on that a bit at home tomorrow and hopefully it works out this weekend!
i have taught 3 of my own kids how to stand up in the living room on carpet. just put the skates on and get them to practice. the first few times on ice hold their skate still.

the methond teaches them to keep their weight centered and allows them to go straight up with no need to keep balance. they are already balanced with 2 hands on their knees.

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11-12-2013, 02:14 PM
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My son finally was able to stand up on his own and shuffle a bit!

We still have a few kids who aren't there yet. But we have a couple extra coaches now who are helping them and hopefully they will stick with it.

Our head coach now has good plans for us every week. We are splitting the ice up into 5 stations with age-appropriate drills from USA Hockey. We do warmups and a group activity for the first 5-10 minutes, then do stations rotating every 7-8 minutes or so, then finish up with another group activity.

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11-13-2013, 11:25 AM
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once the kids are comfortable standing up i found huge success getting them to march straight ahead. do this for 1-2 practices getting them going from point a to point b. then the revelation. get them to turn their toes out a bit and do the exact same marching. the natural step will cause them to glide and their little faces light up like they just figured it out.

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11-13-2013, 11:32 AM
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once the kids are comfortable standing up i found huge success getting them to march straight ahead. do this for 1-2 practices getting them going from point a to point b. then the revelation. get them to turn their toes out a bit and do the exact same marching. the natural step will cause them to glide and their little faces light up like they just figured it out.
With my daughter, we do a lot of me skating to the next line and waiting for her to "skate" towards me. It helps when I squat down and motion her to look into my eyes, gets her to keep her head up and look straight ahead.

Funny thing: She started very consistently skating/walking towards me and then halfway there doing a 360 in place. It was sort of comical because she just looks like a penguin turning around and I couldn't figure out why she was doing it. Then I realized she was imitating me pivoting.

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11-14-2013, 10:13 AM
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I'd say of our group, we have half a dozen who are flying around the ice and can skate backwards, most of them can move forward just not too fast, only a couple are shufflers, and only a couple are still struggling to stand up.

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