Youth hockey is supposed to be about fun and about building skills. Unfortunately, however, many coaches forget that and get way too focused on winning. As a result, some kids on the team end up sitting on the bench, while others get all the playing time. This is a bad idea all around since the players who need to learn don’t get the chance, while the “good” players just get better.
Fixing the Problem
So, how can coaches overcome this issue? Well, one thing USA Hockey recommends is having smaller teams. The smaller the team, the more ice time each player gets.
Another nice idea is to ensure that every kid gets a certain amount of playing time per game. This can be hard when a game is tight and when everyone wants to win. But, at the end of the day, winning isn’t the most important thing. Instead, what is important is building the skills and confidence of each young player, and it’s up to the coaches to remember that.
Parents are also encouraged to get and stay involved in their child’s skating experience. Parents need to make sure that coaches are playing fair and, if not, then they may need to look into other, more inclusive options for their children.
At the end of the day, the whole point of being on a hockey team is to have the chance to play, to learn, and to grow. If a team isn’t giving that to each child, then it’s failing at its purpose and goal. Adults need to keep in mind that winning isn’t the most important thing. Each child as an individual is, and every child deserves a chance to play.