Here’s a treat for my readers– a guest post by Ed Arnold, former editor of The Peterborough Examiner, and my personal hockey coach/author hero. One of my more popular posts was the Recommended Reading List for the Thinking Sports Parent, and the first book I mention is Ed’s title, Whose Puck Is It, Anyway? He’s finishing up a book on his time spent with the Peterborough Petes, an OHL hockey team, that should be out in later this year. Ed and I got hooked up through the magic of the interwebs and he agreed to write a post for the Trophy Mom. I hope you share it with your coaching friends.
By Ed Arnold
We all would like to make it fun for the children but then put so many obstacles in their way.
Tyke or hockey for four, five and six year olds is one of the stranger concepts. We want the kids to learn to skate, stickhandle, pass and have fun, but then we put them in games where only the better ones get to skate, stickhandle, pass and have fun.
How strange is it to go to a child’s hockey game and see a team of 10 players taking shifts. Six kids on the ice facing another six, while the others sit on benches waiting for the coaches to change lines or the buzzer to sound.
Gawd, some of them can hardly skate, wouldn’t it be better to throw them all on the ice so all of them would get that 50-60 minutes of ice time? Hockey legend Bobby Orr in his new book says he learned to play on the ponds and thinks if he were growing up today the coach probably wouldn’t play him because the coach of his teams allowed him to wander with the puck, used his imagination and was allowed to make mistakes. Why don’t we allow children to do this now? If the kids aren’t playing on ponds any longer why not include some practices where the kids are set free to play pond hockey for an hour?
Another strange obstacle for kids is when penalties are called. The team suffers if the kid goes to the box for two minutes. The coach suffers because he had to make decisions on which kid is going to sit because another one had a penalty. The kids suffer because they lose ice time, a valuable commodity when you are trying to learn or teach the game. Wouldn’t it be better if the child goes to the penalty box for a half-minute or so just to teach them the rules and the teams continued to play at even strength? None of the kids would lose ice time. We are talking four to six year olds here, but even older ones would benefit.
In all-star hockey the coaches select which players will make the team and yet start benching the very kids they selected. If the kid isn’t good enough for all star, don’t put him on the team if he isn’t going to play. If he is good enough, then play the child. And if he is not improving, why isn’t the coach spending more time, not less on that child?
Equal ice time is not always possible in this fast paced game, but fair ice time always is.
The problem is that leagues don’t adopt these rules so if one team choose fair play and the other team doesn’t, the ice slopes in favour of the team that is playing its superior players more often. If they all had to use fair ice time, wouldn’t that be more fun for the kids?
If the kids don’t get the ice time now, don’t get to play different positions now, don’t get to experience the last minute of play now. They never will.
As they grow older they will have to learn different skills, systems and how a system works. They will have to learn a set position. They will have to learn that more ice time means earning it. But until then why not allow the kids a chance to be on the ice, be creative, make their own decisions and have the fun that we all insist is “what it is all about.”
The real fun is playing the game, not sitting on a bench and certainly not be yelled at or punished for making mistakes. The kids have enough rules at home and in school, give them an hour at practice and games to have fun. The fun is sliding down the hill, sitting in the roller coaster, swimming in the pool; it is not in watching others having all the fun.Ed Arnold is a writer and former childrens’ hockey coach in Peterborough, Ontario who wrote the book Whose Puck Is It Anyway? A season where he and fellow coaches former NHL stars Steve Larmer and Greg Millen nor parents were not allowed to yell and children were encouraged to use their creativity, imagination while being allowed to make mistakes.
You think managing a youth team is hard? Try managing an adult team. As the manager of my women’s hockey team for the last dozen years or so, I have tried various management systems, including the old fashioned paper and email system, eTeamz, hometeamsonline, Sport NGIN, Google groups and Yahoo! Groups. This year, I turned the manager reins over to Krisha, and we moved to a new online team management software and things couldn’t be better. So now, let me sing the praises of TeamSnap.
First, I have to disclose that TeamSnap gave us an account upgrade to the Premium level for free (an $85 value) in exchange for my review. We had already set up our free basic account and were loving the heck out of it, then upgraded and love it even more. Read the rest of this entry »
We’re about halfway through the hockey season and it’s starting to wear on me. And judging by the crabby parents and a general malaise at the rink, I think the wear and tear of the season is getting to everyone.
The sparkle has worn off and we’ve settled in to a routine– go to practice, play a game. Go to another practice, then another. Sharpen skates. Book a hotel. Drive to a tournament. Play more games. Drive home. Sharpen skates. Wash jerseys and lucky t-shirts. No trophies this year; not yet anyway. Just a long slog through another seemingly endless hockey season.
No matter how much your kids enjoy playing, or how much you enjoy watching, at some point you kinda wish it would be over and you’d have your weekends and Tuesday nights back. And that people would pay their ice bills on time and the rink would get the schedule together. But I digress. So how to you fight the malaise? How do you restore some of the luster to a long season? Go back to the basics. Not basic skills. Basic FUN. Read the rest of this entry »
We have a two car garage. In it you’ll find several bicycles, a snow blower, leaf blower, lawn mower, various shovels, rakes, clippers, ladders, the bench seat for the Fun Bus, and a larger than life Stanley Cup replica and World Series trophy plus some other crap we’ve picked up in the 20 years we’ve had our home. Oh, and enough sports equipment to supply our city recreation department.
One thing my husband insists on is parking two cars in our two-car garage. And that’s not easy with all the stuff we have. But if we can do it, you can, too. So here’s how to take back your garage. Read the rest of this entry »
When I told a friend that I was going to write a post on how not to be THAT parent, he pointed out that THAT parent usually didn’t recognize themselves as such, so the people that really need the advice were not going to think they needed it. He has a point there. So I devised this little test based on behaviors that I have witnessed to help you identify yourself in case your family hasn’t yet staged an intervention. Just answer the following questions with a simple yes or no.
Have you ever . . .
- Had other people describe you as out of control or moved so they don’t have to sit near you?
- Been thrown out of a game?
- Had a shouting match or altercation with a parent from another team?
- Had a shouting match or altercation with someone from your own team?
- Yelled something or gestured at an opposing player?
- Gotten “the look” from your spouse?
- Gotten “the look” from your player?
- Yelled or signaled coaching instruction to your player from the sidelines (assuming you are not the coach)?
- Flipped off, gestured toward your crotch or sworn at a game official or team official?
- Did or said something that you were later ashamed or embarrassed about?
There you are, watching your kid when suddenly you notice a flash of white appearing where it should be only black. A spot of color in an unwelcome place that can only mean one thing–a busted zipper.
As I have indicated previously, I am not highly skilled in the domestic arts, unless you count making Halloween costumes, in which case I rock. Or getting grass stains and red clay out of baseball pants, which I’m pretty darn good at. Or fixing zippers in practically brand new softball pants, at which I am awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I am compelled to share it in the true pay-it-forward spirit. Follow along, kids. Don’t worry, I’ve got pictures. Lots of pictures. Read the rest of this entry »
When my kids were small, we thought it was adorable that they sidewalk-chalked the driveway with a face off circle and a goal crease and drew a hockey net on the garage door. And so darn precious when they commandeered the Cozy Coupe and drove it in circles, mimicking the Zamboni. And when they made impromtu goalie pads from pillows strapped to their legs and played together for hours we were, well, we were just happy they’d gotten the hell out of the house and stopped whining. Fresh air, togetherness, unstructured play– those are all things that are great for kids. It was so cute. And completely harmless. Like this: