Monday, May 04, 2009

Planning for next hockey season

Parental Guidance with CEAN BURGESON
for California Rubber Magazine

Whether you’re involved in a summer hockey program or you’re done playing until next season, the thought still looms above our collective hockey parent heads: What will we do next fall? Every year, players migrate into other sports, drop out, or move from one hockey program to another. There are a number of different reasons these things happen.

What if your rink only has an “A” team and your son or daughter doesn’t make the cut? Or transversely, what if your association only fields a “B” team and you want your player to skate on an “A” team? These are the kinds of dilemmas that give hockey parents critical levels of heartburn. Kids face the possibility of leaving the friends they’ve made, facing the hurt of missing a cut, or possibly moving out of hockey altogether. Or parents are left with the decision between playing their child down or up a level. Each avenue carries its own set of additional issues. It can be enough to drive a hockey parent mad.

These decisions should be solely dependant on one factor: Skill Based Hockey. What I mean by this is doing the best we can as hockey associations, coaches, and parents to place our youth athletes on teams that properly fit their playing style, ability, and skill level, while offering the greatest chance for player growth. This means putting “A” players on “A” teams and “B” players on “B” teams, or keeping a house player on a house team for another year to give them a little more seasoning before going on to play travel hockey.

Using and reinforcing the skill based hockey model in every association in the state of California is the best way for youth players to get the most out of their hockey experience and creates the least amount of grief for both the parent -- and most importantly -- the player. Please keep this in mind when making plans for tryouts this July to assure that all of our players have the most fun and fruitful season possible next year.

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