Category Archives: Steps to becoming a Hockey Player
The decision of parents putting their kids in hockey is usually a simple one. Either the mom, dad or family member has played in the past or the five or six-year-old really enjoys the game. There is plenty of opportunity out there to put your kids into hockey at a young age. Please consider your decision carefully.
Hockey seems to be a little different than most sports. You still have to drive your kids to practice, games, tournaments and other activities, like other sports. However, it seems that morning practices late night games and missing school for tournaments is very common. Hockey, if you decide is now a year round sport. Kids are playing in the winter and spring as well as doing additional training at a very young age.
So, there is the time commitment, Mom and Dad. Be prepared to give up your weekends, long weekends and holidays. Why, you ask. Well the winter season usually starts at the end of August. We will get into that later, but be prepared for all your long weekends, Christmas break, Spring break and even summer vacations to be based around hockey. If you have thought about all that sign your kids up and go.
First time Hockey
What a great feeling it is to put your kids skates on, the equipment, gloves and hand them a stick, give them a push and encourage them, “You can do it”. Wait, did you remember to maybe put them in some skating lessons first? Take them to the ice rink and go out on the ice with them. I believe this is very important. The kids need to know the basics first prior to showing for hockey evaluations. The people coaching in minor hockey are usually volunteer parents, who don’t necessarily have the training on how to teach your child how to skate.
There are a lot of community as well as private programs out there.
This is a great age to start. These kids are all there to have fun and enjoy learning the skating, shooting the puck and starting to build little friendships. Parents are getting to know each other and the ins and outs of hockey life. So far this is easy, since there is no morning practices and not too many games or tournaments. This is the beginning of your commitment and you are in for six months.
So you survived the first year and now you are ready to go again. September comes around and you are at the rink in your shorts. It’s still nice and sunny out and you are enjoying it and prolonging the sun as long as possible. You are visiting with all the people you haven’t seen all summer, catching up and just enjoying the kids out on the ice having a great time. People are starting to notice how some kids stand out and talking about who is going to be on what team. After all you get to play some games against other associations and even enter into some tournaments. This year you will be introduced to fund raising or simply writing a cheque towards the team funds. This is still an awesome year as the kids love to learn and the skating is coming along famously.
Year three and you are ready to get to those evaluations. Now you may be introduced to a little bit of craziness where some kids might stand out and that kid apparently wants to play up with the older age group. He may skate fast enough, even look like he can, but in all reality in a month or two it will be closer to even. You have to remember, some kids go to spring hockey, summer camps and some just unpacked their bag the other day, and just to make sure everything still fit. Never the less some kids will stand out all year long and score a lot of goals. They may not be liked because of all the goals. Parents will be talking about this kid either positively or negatively, but certainly talking. The positive talking will be good and encouraging, just have to pay attention on how you talk about that special someone in front of your own kid.
The negative will be determined on the special player’s PARENTS attitude. By this I mean how are the parents talking about the other players? “Oh you are the best, even when you try to pass, they never get it”. You should be playing up with the older better kids. Where is the rush Mom and Dad? There are a few more years before the Bantam draft.
Last year novice
Are you ready to go again? The two minute buzzer is gone, hopefully offside has been introduced and that special player wants to try out for Atom Rep. Some parents are saying, yes let him go, we don’t want him on our team, he never passes anyway. His parents are trying to convince anyone who will listen to let him try.
This year should be about learning more of the same as prior years, individual skills. Skating, passing and shooting. Some time will be spent on learning more about the game, like the basic breakout and the importance of a back check. You will be taught more as a team and what a team is and the important part of community. When you go to different rinks and tournaments, coaches will be discussing appropriate behavior at the restaurant you will have lunch at between games. You will also learn more about the respect for the game and everyone involved referees, all coaches and all volunteers. How about the hotel you stay at while traveling around to different locations for that weekend tourney.
This is only your fourth year playing and there is a lot to learn still.
Rep Hockey Tryouts
Please parents realize that it takes hard work for your child to make rep. If you think your child is that special player, please remember that there is always a better player somewhere. Some of these kids have worked all spring and summer long towards making a rep team. They might still not make it. You, as a parent will have your own opinions on who should or shouldn’t be there. The evaluators and coaches are doing the best to their ability to pick a team they believe will be a winning team. You will not agree with them about all the decisions whether your superstar makes it or not. After all he was the best kid on last years team. Well, welcome to a reality that the kids they are currently competing against are a year older with more experience. Nothing wrong with your kid playing on the second or third rep team if house.
Is the kid there to learn the game of hockey, have some fun and learn some life skills or are they fulfilling your life dream of playing in the show. This is a tough year for some to overcome. Some thought their superstar should be on a rep team and didn’t make it. So the parents go off to another association or winter club to try out. Some quit hockey all together, because the superstar is too good to play house. It’s the first year, don’t sweat it, there is always next year.
By the way, did I mention, open your wallets if you are playing rep. Extra games, practices and travel tournaments all financed by Mom and Dad or a lot of fundraising organized by the parents of each individual team.
Time for contact
Well this one is sometimes scary for the players, but even scarier for the parents. The first year players have to attend a hitting clinic before they try out or get evaluated. Great, one hour of hitting instruction before they get clobbered into the boards by a second year kid that is twice the size and weight of your little speedy superstar. Yes some kids played spring and had some exposure to it, but the second year monster has over a year of experience on how to put your superstar right through the boards. This is a whole other level of hockey and just because your little Johnny played rep in Atom doesn’t mean he will play rep in peewee. It’s not only the contact; it’s the speed, the decisions and positioning that’s a whole different level above. A lot of really fast skaters make it in the first two years of rep, but struggle in Peewee. You have to be a quick learner to avoid the Monster, the kid that grew a foot and gained fifty pounds and is now thirteen, coming at you at full speed. It takes a while for your superstar to think that he can do the fancy dandy toe drag move before a second year Monster defense man will put him on his behind. The coaching staff will then have to scrape him of the ice and the nice kid next door, Monster, that your superstar plays street hockey with, says, ” Welcome to peewee”.
This is the first year that your rep teams can qualify for the provincials. If you have a chance to go, GO it may not happen again. Enjoy the experience and congratulate your kids for playing hard to get there.
The WHL draft here we come
It’s so important to get on the AAA team because that is where the scouts are. Yes, this is where the scouts are watching, but do you remember when Johnny was six years old and wanted to play hockey for fun. Don’t put so much pressure on your thirteen-year-old first year Bantam player that he no longer has any fun playing the game. This is a big year for these guys, first year high school, puberty has hit, girls are starting to call and they think they know more than you do anyway, so why do you push so much.
What you need to remember is that all this has to be up to the player, you can guide them and give them suggestions, but you can’t make them. Better yet, find someone that has gone through to at least junior A hockey and what it takes in today’s world. You may be surprised, two games a week minimum, two to three practices every week, dry land hockey specific at least once a week and also the possibility of strength conditioning depending on your players stage in physical development. Oh, and did I mention homework.
Now let’s discuss the second year Bantam. Congratulations you have made the AAA team in your association. Now the scouts will be there. Well, take into consideration what Tier you will play. Most scouts will only watch the top tear. Ok, let’s presume that the team is in the top tear. Depending on the coaching staff, kiss every night of the week and all your weekends good buy. You will be spending a lot of time at the rink. You could play upwards of 70 games going all over the country for tournaments. All you will need is an additional source of income. Don’t worry, the player will pay you back once they sign a contract in the big show. Ok, let’s get back to the WHL draft. Your player is fourteen years old; he is being drafted to a specific team in the league. Let’s realize what this actually means. If he is drafted in the first round or second, maybe even third he may actually play in the WHL. He now belong to that team and can not decide to play for another WHL team, he would have to be traded. Unless the team drops them from their protected list, did I mention this could be done any time the team feels it found an unprotected player somewhere else?
Let’s pretend that your player has been drafted. The team wants him to play Major Midget. Great, but the Major Midget isn’t always the best team put forth. This is unfortunate, but the best players don’t always choose this route. This may be due to the financial commitment or it may be the choice of coaching staff on either team. You have a choice. There has been AAA Midget a team that had better players on it than Major Midget. This was not the plan of BC Hockey, but it happens. Major Midget is supposed to be an Elite Midget program for BC kids.
So you have been invited to the Prospects camp in the W. Good for you. Do you have a back up plan? You might want to consider this, since most first year players don’t play. Or you may be on the fourth line, feeling things out and all of a sudden in November, bang, the coach sends you home. Now what. You may want to make sure you have a place to play, like Junior A or B. This can happen.
If that decision was made for your player at training camp, have a Junior A or B team that you are working with. Junior A in the BCHL is a great program as most teams want to get you to the next level, not all but most, remember it is also about winning.
Hey, don’t worry about it. If hockey is what your player wants than YOUR player needs to prove the scouts wrong. It wouldn’t be the first and won’t be the last time they made a mistake. Improve the player’s skill and try out for Junior A or B teams. This a great place to get some awesome coaching from ex NHL payers and sometimes-even coaches.
If your player is playing at this level in your minor hockey association, you should be a proud parent. This is the toughest one to be motivated for. The player has to drive himself to every practice and game. Practices are usually at a convenient time of 10 PM or later on a weekend. These kids are committed to the team and skip on that awesome party happening in your neighborhood. And also remember that most of are either in college or working a full time job. Hey, they still get a chance to play in the Provincials. Be a Proud Parent.