the Minor Hockey Coaching Mind Set
Players must get the right start. The little people’s first
adventure to the rink must be a positive experience and a place they want to
visit every day. A sanctuary of sorts!
The toughest part of playing hockey is that you have to learn to
skate before you can begin to master the other skills of the game. Other sports
such as soccer do not require a person to master balancing on thin metal blades
before learning to kick. It’s a more challenging sport to learn than first
meets the eye. As well, parents that don’t know how to skate are less inclined
to enroll their kids in hockey, as they cannot participate in their kids’
More time, monies and resources are needed to improve minor hockey
coach education and mentoring. Properly motivated coaches are needed at the
lower levels of hockey. If we have more “value based” coaches at the lower
levels, to instil a love of the game and teach “fundamental” skating and hockey
skills. It will help kids enjoy their hockey experience better and should keep them
At the lower levels of minor hockey sometimes coaches deliver the
wrong message – winning over having fun (getting too serious at too early an
age). Let’s keep the fun in the game!
Address the “Shortening of the Bench” problem within minor hockey.
It’s doing a lot of damage to our game. Read Wally Kozak’s column on page 6 of our
newsletter for an informative insight into this problem.
the Minor Hockey Season Model
Recruitment and retention are the key words for the
governing bodies – it’s about selling our great game to the public especially
visible minorities to make it more appealing.
Making the minor hockey season more flexible to fit
with the demands of the modern family. Breaking the season into 3 or 4 mini
seasons i.e. Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. This will create opportunities
for some kids to play year round while also allowing other kids to work hockey
into an already busy schedule. Encouraging less out
of town road trips, tournaments and games will lower costs, so that a single
parent family with multiple children can afford to participate in the game.
Less games more practices.
Parents need the choice available to have their children
participate in CONTACT or NON - CONTACT hockey. More time and monies need to be
directed to SAFETY FIRST and checking clinics / resources to prepare the
players for contact hockey. Players
participating at a level below AA, such as house / less competitive leagues do
not need to be playing contact hockey. The sport has become more recreational
than competitive / elite in nature.
Now, more and more Canadians share concerns about body checking,
concussions and head injuries. The Canada Safety Council has been speaking out
on this for more than 20 years. More progressive concussion studies and changes
need to be implemented to make hockey safer and less of a violent sport. The
main reason kids play any sport is for fun – and getting hurt is no fun! Fear
of injuries is driving young players and their parents from the game.
Take fighting completely out of the game at all levels of hockey.
Increased violence has turned kids especially those new to Canada, from the
game of hockey. Also, racist and derogatory comments on the ice and in the
arenas have contributed to an unwelcoming environment. In addition, in today’s
world publicized incidents of racism in hockey have become more frequent and in
turn have raised concerns among families in the minority communities.
the Hockey Governing Pyramid
One of the biggest challenges for Hockey Canada is dealing with
the pyramid of provincial bodies and the hundreds of minor hockey associations
beneath the organization. There are 4 layers to the Minor Hockey pyramid, for
example in Calgary: Hockey Canada, then Hockey Alberta, then Hockey Calgary,
and then the 20 + local Calgary community minor hockey associations. Each
organization has its own agenda and directives, and they don’t always mesh with
the level of the pyramid above or below them. In the past Hockey Canada’s
directives on change and improvement have not always been embraced and
implemented for the betterment of the game at the grassroots levels. Such an
example was the issue of checking at the Peewee level which took decades for
everyone to agree upon. Ridding the system of unnecessary bureaucracy /
politics will be a major challenge indeed. Teamwork is a necessity for the betterment of
The Canadian Junior Hockey League (WHL, OHL and QMJHL) and
ultimately the National Hockey League prosper from the efforts of the many
minor hockey systems. Since the local minor hockey systems are feeder systems,
a stronger partnership and financial commitment to give back to grass roots
hockey is needed in the years ahead from both leagues.
A more conscious attempt should be made to actively seek out and
appoint visible minorities to staff hockey related positions in community. More
minority representatives in the minor hockey organizations will help ensure the
effectiveness of the governing bodies’ philosophies, policies, programs and
services.Establishing advisory boards, independent consulting
committees or special task forces to address the major hockey issues, recommend
solutions and future courses of action. It’s important to keep the hockey
establishment accountable in the decades ahead.
Come Back Next Week to Read the Conclusion