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At what age do you start shortening the bench?

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Old
03-11-2016, 09:38 AM
  #1
Craig Ludwig
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At what age do you start shortening the bench?

Over the years I have been coaching kids I have noticed a horrible trend. Coaches have now reached the point of shortening the bench for kids as young as mites/novice hockey players aged 7-8 years old. Not to mention shortening, but also matching players/lines against opposing top players. And this is regular season, and it obviously gets much worse come playoff/tournament/AAA time. Is it me, or is this far too young to be giving weaker 7-8 year olds less ice time so that the better 7-8 year olds get more ice time, thus increasing the chances of winning? And then the problem lies that some coaches are constantly doing this, so as a competing coach do you just sit there and let it happen against you? I can't stand this and the problem lies in that the heads of hockey associations are not doing anything about it except sending e-mails saying "Don't do that!", with zero consequences. Very frustrated about this, would love to hear comments and what may have been done in your league to abolish this practice? Or maybe many of you agree with it, and I would love to hear your reasoning?

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03-11-2016, 09:49 AM
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I didn't play at a high level but around 13-14 our coach asked us "Do you want everyone to play the same or do you to get playing time and win?"

He let us decide

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03-12-2016, 07:46 AM
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In my opinion, once you enter the tournament/travel hockey area, it's ok for a coach to shorten the bench. Age comes into play in how drastic the shortening can be. Ex for mites, playing time should be even as possible but pp/pk and end of close game Ice time is going to the best players. As you get older, the bench can get shorter in more situations.

As for house leagues, benches should almost never be shortened.

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03-12-2016, 03:20 PM
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Crosbyfan
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Around 35, when you start to realize time is ticking and some of these Atom age kids are preventing you from moving up and slowing your path to coaching at NHL level. Earlier if your kid is on the team.

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03-12-2016, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beezeral View Post
In my opinion, once you enter the tournament/travel hockey area, it's ok for a coach to shorten the bench. Age comes into play in how drastic the shortening can be. Ex for mites, playing time should be even as possible but pp/pk and end of close game Ice time is going to the best players. As you get older, the bench can get shorter in more situations.

As for house leagues, benches should almost never be shortened.

Perfect answer above

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03-13-2016, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Crosbyfan View Post
Around 35, when you start to realize time is ticking and some of these Atom age kids are preventing you from moving up and slowing your path to coaching at NHL level. Earlier if your kid is on the team.


I figure if you're paying to play, you should get roughly the same icetime as everyone else. Maybe stack a line for the last 1:30 if you're down a goal or two, but that's it.

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03-13-2016, 03:10 PM
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I figure if you're paying to play, you should get roughly the same icetime as everyone else. Maybe stack a line for the last 1:30 if you're down a goal or two, but that's it.
I play in one higher level team where there are some guys that can really play, but no one that can't play. It's pretty competitive through the league and all the teams play to win.

I've played higher level sports where you train several times a week and play your best lineup; and I like that competition. Our top guys play more when it's necessary, which I don't mind at all, but it's a fine line sometimes between it benefiting the team and being counter productive where guys play a shift, then straight on the power play and all of a sudden they're killing a penalty. They end up gassed. You gotta be smart about it..and sometimes guys need a little reminding. It generally works..with stop clock the games are longer

In other teams no one is really that much better that you're gonna sit for them..especially with running time.

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03-13-2016, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Ludwig View Post
Over the years I have been coaching kids I have noticed a horrible trend. Coaches have now reached the point of shortening the bench for kids as young as mites/novice hockey players aged 7-8 years old. Not to mention shortening, but also matching players/lines against opposing top players. And this is regular season, and it obviously gets much worse come playoff/tournament/AAA time. Is it me, or is this far too young to be giving weaker 7-8 year olds less ice time so that the better 7-8 year olds get more ice time, thus increasing the chances of winning? And then the problem lies that some coaches are constantly doing this, so as a competing coach do you just sit there and let it happen against you? I can't stand this and the problem lies in that the heads of hockey associations are not doing anything about it except sending e-mails saying "Don't do that!", with zero consequences. Very frustrated about this, would love to hear comments and what may have been done in your league to abolish this practice? Or maybe many of you agree with it, and I would love to hear your reasoning?
So this isn't hockey related, but I had a similar situation in soccer of all sports. I think I was 8 or 9 not positive but we had a good team that year and were playing in the finals. The coaches who both had sons on the team, were going hard for the win and only put the best players on the field, for like 80% of the game, until another parent came over and gave them **** for it. The coaches answer I **** you not was "the reason your kid hasn't played yet is because everytime we put him out we lose" Thinking about it now more than 20 years later I still shake my head, I mean really? it's ****ing soccer, in Canada. Makes me wonder were these coaches thinking this championship was going to vault them into the bigtimes? I wish I could go back in time and tell these two idiots how truly sad they were. Sorry to derail.

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Old
03-14-2016, 12:05 PM
  #9
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For travel youth hockey the answer is you roll the lines up until Bantams with one exception. At Pee Wees you pretty much roll the lines but it is acceptable to put your PP1 and PK1 unit out there in key situations first then resume the normal line rolling for second half of PP or PK. Every kid should get a chance to play the PP and PK. The final 1:00 to 1:30 of a tie or 1 goal game is also acceptable to put out your top line. The key at Pee Wees is equitable playing time. For Squirts just roll the lines. Mites, seriously? Is this even a question.

Playing time is earned at Bantams and beyond. By that age the boys are ready to compete and should understand their roles on the team and how they can earn more ice time.

For any house league at any age you should just roll the lines. House/rec is just for fun.

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03-14-2016, 01:46 PM
  #10
Craig Ludwig
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bring_Bak_Damphousse View Post
So this isn't hockey related, but I had a similar situation in soccer of all sports. I think I was 8 or 9 not positive but we had a good team that year and were playing in the finals. The coaches who both had sons on the team, were going hard for the win and only put the best players on the field, for like 80% of the game, until another parent came over and gave them **** for it. The coaches answer I **** you not was "the reason your kid hasn't played yet is because everytime we put him out we lose" Thinking about it now more than 20 years later I still shake my head, I mean really? it's ****ing soccer, in Canada. Makes me wonder were these coaches thinking this championship was going to vault them into the bigtimes? I wish I could go back in time and tell these two idiots how truly sad they were. Sorry to derail.
I can't agree with you more

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Old
03-14-2016, 03:43 PM
  #11
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I say when it starts getting competitive. Always depends on the skill level and what not too. Like on Peewee C we weren't shortening the bench, but I bet on PeeWee AA they were.

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03-16-2016, 01:36 PM
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High School

If it is pay to play, then all kids should be playing the same amount. How can you expect any kid to get better if you don't give them the chance to succeed (and sometimes fail as well). High School Varsity should be the first time where this would not be the case. Kids can't get better sitting on the bench.

My dad coached my teams growing up. When we got to Bantams, we had 2 kids that had never played hockey before sign up. My Dad played them in all situations. Did we like losing games because of it, no. Was it fair, absolutely. My Dad constantly got parents asking why he had those players play late in games and on the penalty kill. He would always retort with, "Their parents paid the same amount that you did. These kids make all the practices and are trying just as hard as your kids are. We will win as a full team and lose as a full team."

You also might not know what you have. One of these kids was a bigger kid for Bantams. He was not a good skater, but had really good balance. He figured out by the end of the year how to position his body in front on the PP. He ended up scoring plenty of goals due to it. He wouldn't have had that chance if he didn't get ice time.

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03-16-2016, 02:09 PM
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It's possibly to both play to win and give everyone a fair go, but it's not easy to always get the balance right. The better players want to be competitive and to win; and the lesser players want to play and they want to win too.

It just means putting a little more thought and planning into how you run things; and for kids to know they might not play in a certain situation, but they will in others; and if they don't get as much time as would have been ideal one game, they'll get more the next.

I've always benched my top players when I can, not in hockey, which I haven't coached, but they know they'll get plenty of time in the big games and that we need to give everyone plenty of game time.

The only time it's ever caused a problem was when a kids grandparents were in town and came to watch him. No one told me and I didn't know. I'd have had no issue playing him if I had any idea of the circumstances, even though it was against a top team.

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03-18-2016, 08:24 PM
  #14
Beezeral
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Creepingjeff View Post
If it is pay to play, then all kids should be playing the same amount. How can you expect any kid to get better if you don't give them the chance to succeed (and sometimes fail as well). High School Varsity should be the first time where this would not be the case. Kids can't get better sitting on the bench.

My dad coached my teams growing up. When we got to Bantams, we had 2 kids that had never played hockey before sign up. My Dad played them in all situations. Did we like losing games because of it, no. Was it fair, absolutely. My Dad constantly got parents asking why he had those players play late in games and on the penalty kill. He would always retort with, "Their parents paid the same amount that you did. These kids make all the practices and are trying just as hard as your kids are. We will win as a full team and lose as a full team."

You also might not know what you have. One of these kids was a bigger kid for Bantams. He was not a good skater, but had really good balance. He figured out by the end of the year how to position his body in front on the PP. He ended up scoring plenty of goals due to it. He wouldn't have had that chance if he didn't get ice time.
sounds like you are talking about a house league. that is a completely different situation than what everyone else is talking about

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Old
03-25-2016, 12:11 AM
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Long Rant (Sorry in advance)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Creepingjeff View Post
If it is pay to play, then all kids should be playing the same amount. How can you expect any kid to get better if you don't give them the chance to succeed (and sometimes fail as well). High School Varsity should be the first time where this would not be the case. Kids can't get better sitting on the bench.

My dad coached my teams growing up. When we got to Bantams, we had 2 kids that had never played hockey before sign up. My Dad played them in all situations. Did we like losing games because of it, no. Was it fair, absolutely. My Dad constantly got parents asking why he had those players play late in games and on the penalty kill. He would always retort with, "Their parents paid the same amount that you did. These kids make all the practices and are trying just as hard as your kids are. We will win as a full team and lose as a full team."

You also might not know what you have. One of these kids was a bigger kid for Bantams. He was not a good skater, but had really good balance. He figured out by the end of the year how to position his body in front on the PP. He ended up scoring plenty of goals due to it. He wouldn't have had that chance if he didn't get ice time.

Creepy Jeff has nailed this. He is exactly right. In minor hockey, everyone pays the same amount for their kid to play of the team. It doesn't matter if it's house league or AAA. Everyone has put the same money it. Therefore everyone should play equally too yes? Yes.

Even if they are not as skilled as other players or are positionally challenged when it comes to forward or defence or PP or PK. That is then your coaches responsibility to get them up to par. That starts at practice.

Minor hockey is all about development. What is the end goal? To get your kid to the NHL or the highest level that they can play to. So how to players develop? By practicing, by getting minutes in game. How can you get any better in a game when you're sitting on the bench... (I am aware you can be training individually off ice to try and up your play, but being a game player is different then being a practice player)

So you're the 12th best forward on your team (lets say they only have 12 forwards on this team). And your coach believes in shortening the bench. So you will probably not be playing very much. Thus your development has suffered compared to the top players. Well now its playoffs and your top few players are injured... The coach is put in a situation where he will probably have to play the 12th forward. So team play may suffer now because the 12th forward in an unfamiliar role playing more minutes. He could very easily make many, and or costly mistakes. All because you didn't roll lines and let everyone develop.

I've haven't played minor hockey for some years, but I'm sure this stuff is still going on, if not worse than before... Part of the problem is the coaches think they need to be the Scotty Bowman of minor hockey. Be a Scotty Bowman in the way that you have made your ENTIRE team better come playoff time than at the start of the year. As a coach in minor hockey it shouldn't matter your W-L ratio. What matters is did the kids get a lot better and did they have fun. The answer should be yes.

Now I believe the time to shorten the bench is when you stop paying to play hockey. So for me, this was junior level. No one's paying anything. Therefore why should you get a fair shake at ice time. At this level and higher, you need to earn your ice time.

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03-27-2016, 11:37 AM
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I coach highest Peewee team in my organization and we play even all year besides last 2-3 minutes of a game. Maybe a little line matching but nothing blatantly obvious. Although when the Provincial plays downs and the championship tournament come we run PP/PK lines and are more stiff with line matching. Everyone still plays though and if you win that tournament you move on to the next step or your season is over. So basically if you sacrifice the 3-5 less minutes you play over the span of a few of you win because of this you get another 4-5 games. Also everyone has the chance to develop all season.

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03-27-2016, 05:37 PM
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I coach highest Peewee team in my organization and we play even all year besides last 2-3 minutes of a game. Maybe a little line matching but nothing blatantly obvious. Although when the Provincial plays downs and the championship tournament come we run PP/PK lines and are more stiff with line matching. Everyone still plays though and if you win that tournament you move on to the next step or your season is over. So basically if you sacrifice the 3-5 less minutes you play over the span of a few of you win because of this you get another 4-5 games. Also everyone has the chance to develop all season.
I'm with this, as long as everyone understands what you're trying to do and why; and everyone gets a fair go, if not an equal go. You don't just play to win; and winning isn't everything, but it is still important. Everyone plays, but in certain situations, you run your stronger players; but when you're able to, the reverse applies and your stronger guys do their fair share of the sitting, more if the opportunity arises.

Of course you don't start out like this from the beginning, but over time some things become apparent..and kids themselves often have a better grasp than the parents. I probably wouldn't play my weakest player on the penalty kill near the end of a tight game, but I'd give him top minutes against weaker opposition without worrying that one of my stars was riding the pine more than they might like..but the key is communicating.

It's a little more work and thinking for the coach, but I think it beats the socialistic approach in a number of ways while not short changing or having others left out.

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03-28-2016, 04:08 PM
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Up to Bantam AA, roll them. Winning isn't important to the kids....maybe to their self indulgent parents.

That said, things like last minute, OT and Shootouts should be coaches discretion because winning means more games and more ice for everyone.

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03-31-2016, 08:31 PM
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I learned from coach Riley that it's not worth playing if you can't win big

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04-03-2016, 03:18 AM
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Winning isn't important to the kids.
Speak for yourself. I have never played a game at any age or level that I didn't care about winning. That's why they keep score.

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04-03-2016, 10:35 PM
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Winning isn't important to the kids
I must have been a terrible kid then. Or maybe because I was the goalie I cared more about winning due to it being my job to keep the puck out of the net.

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04-03-2016, 11:29 PM
  #22
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I played for a coach who said that the last 3 minutes of elimination games were his to choose who plays to give the team the best chance to win.

His reasoning was if we win everyone gets to play 1 or 2 extra games. Rather than lose and go home.

I do remeber one semi final game that went to triple OT and some players and parents got upset that the bench was severely shortened but other than that one time it seemed like it was a good compromise.

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04-04-2016, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Ludwig View Post
Over the years I have been coaching kids I have noticed a horrible trend. Coaches have now reached the point of shortening the bench for kids as young as mites/novice hockey players aged 7-8 years old. Not to mention shortening, but also matching players/lines against opposing top players. And this is regular season, and it obviously gets much worse come playoff/tournament/AAA time. Is it me, or is this far too young to be giving weaker 7-8 year olds less ice time so that the better 7-8 year olds get more ice time, thus increasing the chances of winning?
As a coach, you should probably have a word with your league administration about this subject.

A good way to kill a league is for half the families to get frustrated and drop out.

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04-05-2016, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Crosbyfan View Post
Around 35, when you start to realize time is ticking and some of these Atom age kids are preventing you from moving up and slowing your path to coaching at NHL level. Earlier if your kid is on the team.
lol. you win

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04-08-2016, 05:34 PM
  #25
SJGoalie32
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Depends on age, roster structure, season structure, etc.

The younger the players are, the more they should lean towards everyone plays, even in playoffs.

If it's the sort of team/league that has tryouts and cuts players who aren't good enough, then I think merit-based ice time is more appropriate than in a house-type of youth league where everybody who pays expects to play.


I also think it depends on how much non-game practice time the team gets. If a team only ever plays games or maybe an occasional 1 hr practice/scrimmage, it's more important that every one gets in-game ice time.

If my folks are paying a bunch of money for me to only get 10 mins of game play per week, that sucks. But if the team they're paying to put me on has multiple practices in a week, the difference between 4 hrs ice time + 10 mins game & 4hrs ice time + 20 mins game isn't a big deal.

Players on teams with regular practices also at least get the chance to learn the game, to improve their performance, and usually to have enough exposure to understand and accept why some other player is playing more. If I'm in a league where the only access I have to playing is in a live game, and my coach is denying me the ice time I need in order to either prove or improve myself, that hurts a lot more as a kid.

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