Date: 27/2/2014 5:49 PM UTC
30 years ago my 9 and 11-year-old nephews were playing
hockey. Like most families we wanted them to play and enjoy the game. After 3
years they quit. It was not fun. The coach played the best players a lot more
and they were discouraged. All they wanted to do was play, but the unfair ice
time was enough to take them out of the game. Their parents did not complain.
It seemed to be acceptable and the “way it is” in minor hockey. Winning is the
primary objective and the best players might help them to win. In the meantime
their boys noticed the difference and they decided to give up on hockey. It was
a discouraging experience.
I wonder how many more young children have quit the game
because they did not get a fair opportunity to play, develop and have fun. They
were not good enough at 9 and 10 to play in shorthanded and special team
situations. When the game was in hand they would get a chance but only if the
team was far enough ahead. Besides not playing on special teams they got to
play 5 on 5 every 3 shifts while the 2 centers got to play every second shift.
They might have stuck with it if they had a chance to penalty kill or play the
power play but missing so many shifts took its toll. It just wasn’t fun. They
How many parents are living the same situation? You notice
the unfair ice time and do not want to complain thinking “that’s just the way
it is”. The Local Hockey Association accepts this although a number of board
members might disagree. The majority rules and kids quit hockey. The focus on
winning is more important than personal development and enjoyment of all
Recently, I talked to a Father about his 15-year-old
son-quitting hockey when he was 10. The story is the same. The boy got into
football and had just finishing a football camp in the USA and was being sought
after by Prep schools for a scholarship, At 6 foot 3 inches and a fit 215
pounds and athletic it was not a surprise.
I wonder what kind of a hockey player this kid would have been if he
didn’t quit the game. At 10 years old he
was discouraged and driven out of the sport. Fortunately he found another that
he would excel at.
Minor Hockey leaders and parents have to “wake up” and tell
it like it is. Minor hockey is not about
developing NHL players. It is about developing life skills through teamwork and
learning to work hard, respecting your opponent and the officials IT is about
learning from winning and losing.
Win – Win coaching is about trying your best to win on the
score clock but not at the expense of the growth and development of all
players. When you win a game but shorten the bench you lose the spirit and self
esteem of players who have not yet developed like my nephews and the
15-year-old Football player who quit hockey.
Goggle the “Positive Coaching Alliance”, a USA sports
organization that is leading the way in the USA helping establish a healthy
perspective and providing numerous resources for associations, parents and
coaches to use to serve the “good of the game.”
Kudos to the Vancouver
Island Amateur Hockey Association for dealing with this issue.