Youth Hockey - catch all

tonyandpals

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There's been some youth hockey talk across some other threads, but I made this one to focus on hockey. With three kids playing and as I get more involved in my town's program, I figured this is a good place to sound off and look for advice.

First topic - I took on a role as our programs coaching director. This involves me working with the coaches to get them certified, keep them in the loop on practice schedule changes, organize tryouts. A lot of general stuff. Most of it is for the mite (8u) level coaches who may be a bit green.

I'm currently putting together a tryout plan for all of our levels. It only really "matters" for our mite and squirt (10u) teams, as they are the only ones that have the numbers to support multiple teams (40ish kids in mites, 28 or so in squirts). My biggest concern heading into tryouts is sorting out the new teams. We bring in independent evaluators who will rank the kids on various sets of skills. I also plan on soliciting end of your assessments from coaches on all of their kids. I was wondering what people thoughts were on what the biggest driving factors should be at those ages. What should carry more weight? Evaluator score? Coaches assessment? I ask because I got some push back on the coaches assessment piece from others on the board. Saying it could show bias. I don't disagree completely as a parent/coach could rate their kid higher to tryand get on the top team. But, I also don't like the idea of having a kid come out for two one hour tryouts, and basing their future team on those performances alone. What do you think a good balance is?
 

VORP Speed

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I don’t have any sage advice, but I commend you for taking on that role. We had 4 squirt teams in our program this year and the whole tryout process—coaches vs evaluators, who got A1 vs B, unhappy parents, etc—is more than I’d ever want to personally take on. I think everyone involved honestly does their best, but somebody is always unhappy.
 

tonyandpals

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I don’t have any sage advice, but I commend you for taking on that role. We had 4 squirt teams in our program this year and the whole tryout process—coaches vs evaluators, who got A1 vs B, unhappy parents, etc—is more than I’d ever want to personally take on. I think everyone involved honestly does their best, but somebody is always unhappy.
That's what I'm afraid of, and partly the reason why I'd like to have a sound plan to point back to and say that we got to those decisions logically. But yes, some will be unhappy that kids from this years top mite team jump right to the top squirt team, while other current squirts (only one team right now) will be on the bottom team.
 

scobie88

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Jul 18, 2005
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My oldest just got done with his first season of travel hockey (due to covid Season was cancelled last year and they just played “house”). He is a 2013 so it was his last year in Mites. He plays for a pretty big program here in NJ (the avalanche) and it can honestly say it was a great experience for him. But a ton of ups and downs as a parent.

To me the real standout players early in the mite season were the best skaters. This will show up in tryouts for sure. Speed kills. However as the season went on, vision and passing became a bigger part of the game. They were playing as a full ice team and this is a big distinction i think (as you probably know full ice mite programs are not the norm). So passing and vision became more and more important as the season went on. I think this is something you will need to rely on some evaluations from their previous seasons i think. Also …..coachability…… we had kids who just refused to play D. Even when positioned ther……like all other sports i guess but it became a problem and some of the kids were actually quite skilled…..but we would let up a lot of goals when they were caught out of position. Hope that helps!
 
Feb 23, 2021
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Having just come out the other end of this process (my son has 'graduated' from youth hockey), I agree that you are never going to please everyone and their will invariably upset kids and mostly parents. I have two comments:
1: Your process is sound, I would hold firm on the coaches assessments. They get to see the kids all year long, they know each kid's strengths and weaknesses way better than an independent evaluator can from watching 40 kids skate around for 2 days. I always saw the independent evaluator giving you a bit of air cover to hopefully flesh out any coaching bias.
2: This is the hard one - try to be as impartial as possible, especially when you are including the coaching assessment, assign the kids a random number and if possible have a third person attach the coach assessment detail to the evaluator score so that when the decisions are being made they are as unbiased as possible. Too often kids get labeled 'A' or 'B' kids, even unconsciously. It's tricky as in my experience the top B players and the bottom A players are pretty interchangeable, and I saw kids get put on teams because that's the level they always played on.
Definitely a thankless job, good luck!
 

tonyandpals

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To me the real standout players early in the mite season were the best skaters. This will show up in tryouts for sure. Speed kills. However as the season went on, vision and passing became a bigger part of the game. They were playing as a full ice team and this is a big distinction i think (as you probably know full ice mite programs are not the norm). So passing and vision became more and more important as the season went on. I think this is something you will need to rely on some evaluations from their previous seasons i think. Also …..coachability…… we had kids who just refused to play D. Even when positioned ther……like all other sports i guess but it became a problem and some of the kids were actually quite skilled…..but we would let up a lot of goals when they were caught out of position. Hope that helps!
Speed kills, for sure. Especially if your mite program is full ice (ours is half). I agree, the fast kids come to the top early. We run practices that are very heavy on skating, so the kids that have it already ready for more, and can move on to puck based skills.

Having just come out the other end of this process (my son has 'graduated' from youth hockey), I agree that you are never going to please everyone and their will invariably upset kids and mostly parents. I have two comments:

2: This is the hard one - try to be as impartial as possible, especially when you are including the coaching assessment, assign the kids a random number and if possible have a third person attach the coach assessment detail to the evaluator score so that when the decisions are being made they are as unbiased as possible. Too often kids get labeled 'A' or 'B' kids, even unconsciously. It's tricky as in my experience the top B players and the bottom A players are pretty interchangeable, and I saw kids get put on teams because that's the level they always played on.
Definitely a thankless job, good luck!
Regarding the following, there was a bit of division on our board for this. The tryouts will be by level, so 40 or so mites on the ice. The different proposed approaches were:

1-Three groups, randomly assigned. So we'd have 2016s mixed with 15s and 14s in a group.
vs
2-Three groups, broken up by birth year 2014/15, 2015s, 2015/16s.

The fear with 1 was that the gap between the ages could skew the judgement within what we'd call their peer group. There is very little chance of a 16 skating with a 14, so why force those matchups. We ended up settling on 2 as we have a logical explanation of the group, as it's strictly by birthdate.

To relate to your last point, we had that situation last year. We had three mite teams last year. Our A team was graduating all but one player (a girl who left for an all girls team). The old board (I am new this year) had originally decided to just take the B team and move them up. There were 3-4 players on the current C team that had surpassed kids on the B team, significantly. They made an attempt to 'rebrand' the teams A1 and A2, saying they'll try to make them as even as possible. But the league we play in doesn't level teams that way. You don't try to make them even across your program. You put your best players on a team and go from there. I was just getting involved last year and made a bit of a stink on this process and we reached a compromise. They took two of the kids and put them on the top team and chose to carry 12, instead of leaving anyone behind. Those two players are now 2 of the top 3 players on the top team. The kids they kept that should/could have moved down barely get any touches and have trouble keeping up in practice. This is an example of being careful what you wish for. I'm sure the parents love the label of their kid on the top team. But now they're moving on to squirts with fewer tools that they could have picked up if they had played (down) at the right level .But nobody wants to accept that...
 

Grogan's NeckRol

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Aug 29, 2007
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There's been some youth hockey talk across some other threads, but I made this one to focus on hockey. With three kids playing and as I get more involved in my town's program, I figured this is a good place to sound off and look for advice.

First topic - I took on a role as our programs coaching director. This involves me working with the coaches to get them certified, keep them in the loop on practice schedule changes, organize tryouts. A lot of general stuff. Most of it is for the mite (8u) level coaches who may be a bit green.

I'm currently putting together a tryout plan for all of our levels. It only really "matters" for our mite and squirt (10u) teams, as they are the only ones that have the numbers to support multiple teams (40ish kids in mites, 28 or so in squirts). My biggest concern heading into tryouts is sorting out the new teams. We bring in independent evaluators who will rank the kids on various sets of skills. I also plan on soliciting end of your assessments from coaches on all of their kids. I was wondering what people thoughts were on what the biggest driving factors should be at those ages. What should carry more weight? Evaluator score? Coaches assessment? I ask because I got some push back on the coaches assessment piece from others on the board. Saying it could show bias. I don't disagree completely as a parent/coach could rate their kid higher to tryand get on the top team. But, I also don't like the idea of having a kid come out for two one hour tryouts, and basing their future team on those performances alone. What do you think a good balance is?
My kids have also recently graduated from youth hockey but I did spend a number of years on the board and was the Bantam coordinator for several of them so was the face of team selections. First, everyone is right, people will be upset no matter what so believing in the integrity of the process is critical so you can have very straight forward conversations with disgruntled parents. Second, I also completely agree with standing strong on coaches evaluations. Tryouts can be misleading and leaning on evaluatons from the coaches and other members of the program that really know the kids is key. Of course its not this scientific but we would say we weighted evals 75% coaches and 25% tryouts. And we would keep the coaches evals completely confidential so they did not receive blow back from friends. We would get feedback from assistants as well as head coaches to help mitigate the problem of overrating children/friends.

Good on you for doing this, it's thankless. And I am sure you have already seen that year in and year out it's super easy to pick out the top and bottom ten kids and then the great middle is really hard to assign. Most parents that complaint don't listen to this but some do--I would always explain that it is almost always better for a bubble kid's development to be really good on the lower team than marginal on an upper team. Finally, with respect to the integrity of your process, if it got to this point I would ask the parent who they think I should move down and how I justify that to that kid's parents when the objective scoring has the other kid ahead of disgrunteled parents kid.
 

tonyandpals

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I would always explain that it is almost always better for a bubble kid's development to be really good on the lower team than marginal on an upper team.
This is a point I've struggled with, maybe more so personally aa we're going through it a bit with my son. He plays town and club. On the top town team. One of the top 2 on his club team. Other top kid is leaving next year, as well as 3-4 other players that were solid. So we went to a few skates and if he makes any of the other teams he's trying out for, he'd be in the bottom third for sure. But, in that case, I feel like it's better to be in the bottom third and have to push, rather than get comfortable as one of the top two or three. Maybe it's skewed with my own kid, because I generally agree with your sentiment above. Especially after having the town team carrying a few kids on the top team that really shouldn't have been there. They weren't being pushed, or capable of it. They were just stuck. I think it comes down to knowing the kid a bit.
 

burstnbloom

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This is a point I've struggled with, maybe more so personally aa we're going through it a bit with my son. He plays town and club. On the top town team. One of the top 2 on his club team. Other top kid is leaving next year, as well as 3-4 other players that were solid. So we went to a few skates and if he makes any of the other teams he's trying out for, he'd be in the bottom third for sure. But, in that case, I feel like it's better to be in the bottom third and have to push, rather than get comfortable as one of the top two or three. Maybe it's skewed with my own kid, because I generally agree with your sentiment above. Especially after having the town team carrying a few kids on the top team that really shouldn't have been there. They weren't being pushed, or capable of it. They were just stuck. I think it comes down to knowing the kid a bit.
This is the ever present struggle with youth hockey, right? My nephew played AAA elite as a Mite and a Squirt and the coaching left a lot to be desired. He plays D and they basically just yelled "GET BACK!" every game for 2 years instead of showing him what to do. They worked on his skating, shot and stick handling and he improved a lot but he was totally lost on the ice given the poor coaching on how to defend as an individual. So, he opted for an independent team this year. He blossomed to the point where he is easily the best player on the ice every game, even playing with 2009 players (he's 2010). He's committed to staying with this coach that appeared to unlock him this season but he was the best player in a league full of 12 year olds when he was 11. What will it look like next year? The coach wants him playing up with the u15 team but that seems crazy for a 12 year old. You gotta trust the guy but also do you? It's so hard to figure out what the right thing to do is with these kids.

My son skipped last year as a 2015 because it felt risky with Covid to do a 60+ kid LTP program. This year he's one of the better skaters in his program but he's absolutely brutal with the puck (he's a 2015) and we have to choose evals in the next week or so. I know he can skate with the best kids in the mite program and the puck skills will come as he continues to play outside and get more ice time but I don't want to overwhelm him and make hockey not fun because he loves it. These decisions are harder than they have any right to be for little kids. It's crazy.

Good luck with your son. I hope whatever you end up doing works for him.
 

Foxy42

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Just sent you an IM to connect. I’m on my towns hockey board and have done everything from registrar to working w apparel companies to organizing tryouts and eval systems.

Proud dad sidebar:
My son’s club team won their division’s championship this past weekend. The game was a complete slugfest. We went up 2 early, they stormed back and made it 2-2 at the end of one. The second period was scoreless despite lots of chances. We the traded goals twice (us/them/us/them), before going to sudden death OT. We won 18 seconds in and the place went nuts. Kids throwing gloves and sticks, lots of kids from the next two games up against the glass, town team support at the rink…a few hundred people for a squirt major game. The kids will be talking about it in twenty years.
 

Gammon_Clark

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Apr 24, 2010
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My kids have also recently graduated from youth hockey but I did spend a number of years on the board and was the Bantam coordinator for several of them so was the face of team selections. First, everyone is right, people will be upset no matter what so believing in the integrity of the process is critical so you can have very straight forward conversations with disgruntled parents. Second, I also completely agree with standing strong on coaches evaluations. Tryouts can be misleading and leaning on evaluatons from the coaches and other members of the program that really know the kids is key. Of course its not this scientific but we would say we weighted evals 75% coaches and 25% tryouts. And we would keep the coaches evals completely confidential so they did not receive blow back from friends. We would get feedback from assistants as well as head coaches to help mitigate the problem of overrating children/friends.

Good on you for doing this, it's thankless. And I am sure you have already seen that year in and year out it's super easy to pick out the top and bottom ten kids and then the great middle is really hard to assign. Most parents that complaint don't listen to this but some do--I would always explain that it is almost always better for a bubble kid's development to be really good on the lower team than marginal on an upper team. Finally, with respect to the integrity of your process, if it got to this point I would ask the parent who they think I should move down and how I justify that to that kid's parents when the objective scoring has the other kid ahead of disgrunteled parents kid.
With regards to your bubble player comment, how confident are you in this belief? I was of the other mind in thinking ‘playing up’ is all always more beneficial, sorta like little brother trying to keep up with big brother typically turns out stronger for having gone through that ‘underdog’ course.
That said, my belief is based on anecdotes and my own logic flow chart, I’m truly interested in your thoughts and insights on the subject.
 

Dummy Hoy

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I think it's very dependent upon player and what their game is lacking.

Playing at a lower level can give a kid more time on the puck with more time to be comfortable developing skills at a slower pace. This can lead to more confidence which can make a big deifference going forward and in development.
 

Dummy Hoy

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RE: tryouts, we had an issue at our u12 level when last year we had two teams (A&B), and while a bunch of kids moved up, the incoming crop of 1st year players was quite strong. We had over 40 kids come out so we had 3 teams (A, B, B2). The complaints came from 3 kids who were on the B team last year but made B2 this year, and one kid who was a squirt A last year but made B2. I'd suggest 2 of the 4 had some cause for complaint as they were clear bubble kids, but thats the way it can go. We got back together on a text thread to throw some ideas around (making two even B teams amongst others) but determined that we had a good process, we couldn't find any kids on lower teams that were better than kids on upper teams, and that the parents (and kids) would just need to deal. If we really messed up, the player will show us in the fall and we can make an adjustment then.
 

Grogan's NeckRol

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With regards to your bubble player comment, how confident are you in this belief? I was of the other mind in thinking ‘playing up’ is all always more beneficial, sorta like little brother trying to keep up with big brother typically turns out stronger for having gone through that ‘underdog’ course.
That said, my belief is based on anecdotes and my own logic flow chart, I’m truly interested in your thoughts and insights on the subject.
Sorry to respond late but I don't think it's an absolute and there are benefits to both. Most of my thinking comes from a place where it seems, especially at the A level, there was pretty big drop off from the no-brainer A teasers to the bubble. So if you are spending the whole season "playing up" then the kid is likely at the very low end of skill on the upper team. This means less touches and time with the puck and potential impact to the player's confidence. If the player is one of the best on the lower team than they are going to have the puck, likely be on a better line/D pair and have a leadership position on the team. We would also try to find every opportunity to have kids play up when the upper team was short (which happens more and more often with the proliferation of club teams). This all assumes the player is truly on the bubble and doesn't belong on the upper team because then the player isn't improving on the lower team. Obviously not true for every situation and I totally get your point.
 

Old Fart Tree

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Can I ask a quick dumb question? I’m sure I could get answers googling but I prefer the homespun knowledge of SOSH.

My son is almost two. He’ll never play in the NHL Or probably even varsity high school hockey, but he seems to gravitate toward hockey and baseball. When’s too soon to get him out on the ice? Get him a stick, etc? Any advice? It doesn’t stay cold enough in Boulder to have an outdoor rink, which is too bad because that would be fun, but there’s a rink a half mile from us at the Y.
 

OfTheCarmen

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I guess it depends how serious you think he will want to take it and if you think he has some aptitude for it.

USA Hockey puts age limits on what ages can play together and many organizations do not like to color outside those lines. The issue I've seen in my area with kids that start super early is that they end up playing Mite hockey for 3-4 years. In many organizations, Mite hockey involves 4-4 cross-ice play that utilizes half of the ice. Kids that start early and have an aptitude often can feel bored or constrained by the limitations of Mite hockey.

It might be worth seeing if the Mite level for the team/org he would be playing for has any options for full-ice Mite teams that he could grow into if you start him early.

I think the normal/expected path for most youths is to do a learn to skate program followed by a learn to play or "in house" program that is more basic hockey instructional that simply skating instructional, and then move into Mites for 1-2 years before progressing through Squirt, Peewee, and beyond.

Starting the Learn to Skate and Learn to Play programs around 5 seems most common from what I've experienced. Mites runs 8 and under, so starting at 3 and assuming 1 year of LTS/LTP, your son would potentially be playing Mites for 4 years.

Not sure if that helps or not.
 

VORP Speed

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In our program, lots of kids start skating at 3. Learn to skate lessons for a year or two and then a fun intro to hockey program for 1-3 years until they're ready for regular mite hockey. It has to be fun and engaging, but it helps to start skating earlier. My youngest started at 3 and has spent tons of time at free skates tagging along with her older siblings and now that she's almost 6 she's miles ahead of where the older ones who either started later or didn't spend as much time on the ice were at that age.
 

Gammon_Clark

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Apr 24, 2010
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Sorry to respond late but I don't think it's an absolute and there are benefits to both. Most of my thinking comes from a place where it seems, especially at the A level, there was pretty big drop off from the no-brainer A teasers to the bubble. So if you are spending the whole season "playing up" then the kid is likely at the very low end of skill on the upper team. This means less touches and time with the puck and potential impact to the player's confidence. If the player is one of the best on the lower team than they are going to have the puck, likely be on a better line/D pair and have a leadership position on the team. We would also try to find every opportunity to have kids play up when the upper team was short (which happens more and more often with the proliferation of club teams). This all assumes the player is truly on the bubble and doesn't belong on the upper team because then the player isn't improving on the lower team. Obviously not true for every situation and I totally get your point.
Thank you for the thoughtful response.

In your mind, does any of this change if you are a goalie?

I completely see your point in touches for a kid playing out and kill development through repetition, but most of what I have encountered, albeit anecdotal, is that a goalie is best served on a bad team that gives up a lot of shots, thus allowing the goalie more ‘touches’, reps, etc…. I wonder if playing up as a goalie teaches you how to stop harder shots, better located shots and quicker response due to better/quicker passing? The only thing I cannot counter is the confidence aspect… if the goalie is getting shelled every time out and has trouble stopping anything, than he/she are playing too far up. But in theory, I wonder if playing up is more beneficial for a goalie than a skater…?
 

Grogan's NeckRol

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Thank you for the thoughtful response.

In your mind, does any of this change if you are a goalie?

I completely see your point in touches for a kid playing out and kill development through repetition, but most of what I have encountered, albeit anecdotal, is that a goalie is best served on a bad team that gives up a lot of shots, thus allowing the goalie more ‘touches’, reps, etc…. I wonder if playing up as a goalie teaches you how to stop harder shots, better located shots and quicker response due to better/quicker passing? The only thing I cannot counter is the confidence aspect… if the goalie is getting shelled every time out and has trouble stopping anything, than he/she are playing too far up. But in theory, I wonder if playing up is more beneficial for a goalie than a skater…?
Great question and I don't know if I have a helpful response--goalies are always special ( I can say that, one of my kids is a goalie and he has been in both situations). I agree that being on a team that lets them see a lot of rubber is a good thing and that can happen on any level team. The one downside to seeing a lot of pucks on a bad team is the shots come from weird places and situations you don't expect them. Like off puck d man on a 2 on 2 will attack the puck carrier creating an unexpected 2 on 1 or just people wide open where they shouldn't be in general. That can make the goalie anticipate things that don't happen in a well played game. I still think they get better seeing more shots and it gets them in a rhythm. You are right, goalie on upper teams see shots at the openings so it makes them better. The confidence thing goes to all situations, you don't anyone playing too far over their head.
 

OfTheCarmen

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I think the playing up vs down really depends a lot on the individual skater and also the level of play. My son has been a perennial A/B bubble kid on his first years at a given level and at Squirts he was the standout kid on the lower level team and it did wonders for his confidence. Peewee was similar, and while he was strong on his team he wasnt quite as standout as the level of play in general had gotten stronger. In both scenarios, he was able to play up with the higher team when they were missing kids and the peewee season, he was moved up permanently halfway through the season.

In both those scenarios, we had goalies in similar situations. In Squirts there was a goalie very new to the sport, but who showed a lot of aptitude for the game. Our team got shelled a LOT, he saw TONS of shots but had a great "goldfish" mentality and developed a lot that year. During PW, the lower team had a player new to the Org and we similarly got shelled and he saw a ton of shots. He would often just stop really trying at some point in the 2nd period and didnt really seem to enjoy the experience at all.

Same Peewee year, another player at similar level to my son just never bothered to really take any initiative and mostly just went through the motions. He often would complain about being on lines with some of the weaker players. This was evident to his coaches and the coaches of the higher level team and contributed to their decisions not to have him play up when opportunities to do so presented themselves.
 

LoweTek

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As a goalie who came through all the youth ranks, albeit a long time ago, I will say this. The worst possible scenario is to put a goalie with potential on a team where he gets little or no action. I had a year like that in Bantam. I lost an entire year of development taking less than 10, sometimes less than five shots per game. Most of those shots were not competitive.

If you've got a young goalie with some acumen and some athletic skill who wants to play the position, at Pee Wee and Bantam he must be be challenged. One soft season can have a lot of impact on longer term development. I used to seek opportunities to play at whatever higher level would have me, be it stick time, playing up, pond pick up, whatever. Challenge him as much as you can. If he struggles or fails, mastering that skill will serve him very, very well if he chooses to reach for higher levels when he's older. Goalies with any ambition have to learn how to turn failure into motivation.

And get him a goalie coach who played the position at a reasonably high level. This made a huge difference for me. Most coaches have no idea how to help goalies.
 

OfTheCarmen

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And get him a goalie coach who played the position at a reasonably high level. This made a huge difference for me. Most coaches have no idea how to help goalies.
As a volunteer who coached Learn to Skate through Peewee I agree with this wholeheartedly. The USA Hockey certifications have a tiny section on Goalie. There is a whole, other certification path focused on Goalie development.
 

Gammon_Clark

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Apr 24, 2010
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As a goalie who came through all the youth ranks, albeit a long time ago, I will say this. The worst possible scenario is to put a goalie with potential on a team where he gets little or no action. I had a year like that in Bantam. I lost an entire year of development taking less than 10, sometimes less than five shots per game. Most of those shots were not competitive.

If you've got a young goalie with some acumen and some athletic skill who wants to play the position, at Pee Wee and Bantam he must be be challenged. One soft season can have a lot of impact on longer term development. I used to seek opportunities to play at whatever higher level would have me, be it stick time, playing up, pond pick up, whatever. Challenge him as much as you can. If he struggles or fails, mastering that skill will serve him very, very well if he chooses to reach for higher levels when he's older. Goalies with any ambition have to learn how to turn failure into motivation.

And get him a goalie coach who played the position at a reasonably high level. This made a huge difference for me. Most coaches have no idea how to help goalies.
Thank you for this post, it really spoke to me.

I don't know how you say this without sounding like "one of those dads", but my son got a late start (started playing last year at 10yrs old), we missed tryouts last year because we didn't know our ass from our elbow (I never played YH), so they put him on the 10U limited travel team and they were awful, but he excelled. This year after tryouts he made the top 12U team (AA). He has his own accomplished goalie coach and he loves playing. He's also got big dreams, so as his dad my two priorities are 1.) not letting him burn himself out, keeping it fun and mixing in other activities/skills and 2.) supporting him The latter looks to be challenging moving forward as there are 7 or 8 AAA teams in our area and I have no idea whom he should tryout for. The closest one has a weak 2011 team, which would mean a lot of action for him. The flip side is, I don't want him getting smoked every time out. I would characterize him as mentally tough for an 11yr old, I've never seen him quit and his compete level is off the charts, but I don't want to put him in a bad position either.
 

LoweTek

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As a volunteer who coached Learn to Skate through Peewee I agree with this wholeheartedly. The USA Hockey certifications have a tiny section on Goalie. There is a whole, other certification path focused on Goalie development.
I think 'certification' as a goalie coach comes from facing near 100MPH shots from 20 feet in front of you. Can't get that from an online course.
 

LoweTek

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Thank you for this post, it really spoke to me.

I don't know how you say this without sounding like "one of those dads", but my son got a late start (started playing last year at 10yrs old), we missed tryouts last year because we didn't know our ass from our elbow (I never played YH), so they put him on the 10U limited travel team and they were awful, but he excelled. This year after tryouts he made the top 12U team (AA). He has his own accomplished goalie coach and he loves playing. He's also got big dreams, so as his dad my two priorities are 1.) not letting him burn himself out, keeping it fun and mixing in other activities/skills and 2.) supporting him The latter looks to be challenging moving forward as there are 7 or 8 AAA teams in our area and I have no idea whom he should tryout for. The closest one has a weak 2011 team, which would mean a lot of action for him. The flip side is, I don't want him getting smoked every time out. I would characterize him as mentally tough for an 11yr old, I've never seen him quit and his compete level is off the charts, but I don't want to put him in a bad position either.
Talk to him. Talk to his coaches. Ultimately, decide at what level he will be most challenged yet, be able to succeed if he plays his best. Remember Herb Brooks line to Craig in the Miracle movie, (paraphrasing), "Really Jim, are you really giving me your very best?"

If the kid has the desire, wants to do the work, shows skills, adapts and loves to play over his head. Let him.

My beats were far more important lessons than my shutouts.
 

Lupe Whalewatch

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He has his own accomplished goalie coach and he loves playing. He's also got big dreams, so as his dad my two priorities are 1.) not letting him burn himself out, keeping it fun and mixing in other activities/skills and 2.) supporting him The latter looks to be challenging moving forward as there are 7 or 8 AAA teams in our area and I have no idea whom he should tryout for. The closest one has a weak 2011 team, which would mean a lot of action for him. The flip side is, I don't want him getting smoked every time out. I would characterize him as mentally tough for an 11yr old, I've never seen him quit and his compete level is off the charts, but I don't want to put him in a bad position either.
Have you asked his goalie coach what he thinks is best for him? Is staying with that goalie coach next year an option? If so (speaking as a biased goalie coach myself) I would absolutely consider that. Assuming you practice 2-3 times a week, having a dedicated goalie coach on the ice is invaluable. For a young goalie I would put that ahead of any game action he may see at various levels.
 

tonyandpals

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Anyone have a lead on a 2010/11 goalie? It's a huge gap for us in our program. Every other year we're without a goalie and we're way past the 'pass the pads' stages. Would play for free, part time, full time, whatever we can get. Burlington mid-low level Peewee team playing in the Valley League.
 

Old Fart Tree

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Anyone have a lead on a 2010/11 goalie? It's a huge gap for us in our program. Every other year we're without a goalie and we're way past the 'pass the pads' stages. Would play for free, part time, full time, whatever we can get. Burlington mid-low level Peewee team playing in the Valley League.
I have a friend whose son (2011) could maybe fill in sometimes. He lives in Needham so probably not your full time guy. No idea how good he is.
 

Dummy Hoy

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Happy youth hockey season everyone.

I've got my daughter's Mite A team and a U18 non-national bound club team this year. Excited to start
 

OfTheCarmen

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Son has moved from our town CHC team (we're in central CT) to a team in the PHLNE (U12, 2010). Was in Middleton 2 weekends ago for parity, going to Newburg NY this weekend, and Jay Peak at the end of the month (including 2 days out of school for him).

We knew what we were signing up for, but man I hate driving all over creation, heh.

Happy Hockey all!
 
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tonyandpals

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Off and running here as well. Oldest son is on the 12u AA team in Burlington. My twins are on the 8u AAA team. Son was on it last year, daughter was on AA but barely "made" AAA this year. Likely the last one to make the vut. I think they threw me a bone since I'm coaching it, which always goes over well. But there was no real difference between her and the kids that didn't make it. I kind of wanted her to play down at first, but one fewer team to balance in our schedules will make it worth it. They even share ice with the 12u one night. It feels like I'm on vacation on Wednesdays...sort of.

8u son is playing for East Coast Wizards again. Had a great year with them last year. New coach, we'll see how it goes. But three of his Burlington buddies made the team this year so it should be a blast playing two teams with all those kids.

We have two quirt teams in town, A team has 13 kids, B team is down to 10. They'll likely pull from our 8u teams often this year, which will be great for those half ice kids to get some full ice experience.

Hopefully have some time to come up for air before April next year...
 

Dummy Hoy

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70 kids in our Mite program this year- we'll carry a Mite A (who will play in the SSC B division), 3 house mite teams and 2 U6 teams. I think one of the coolest things is that 23 of the players are girls...we have a dangerously low number of girls between the ages of 12-16, so it's nice to see things bumping back up.
 

reggiecleveland

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As a former Canadian hockey parent, I can only say how glad I am out of this world.
Hockey evaluators in my home city are like witness protection plan people. Come in separate entrances, are behind a curtain, etc.
 

OfTheCarmen

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70 kids in our Mite program this year- we'll carry a Mite A (who will play in the SSC B division), 3 house mite teams and 2 U6 teams. I think one of the coolest things is that 23 of the players are girls...we have a dangerously low number of girls between the ages of 12-16, so it's nice to see things bumping back up.
My son has usually had 1, maybe 2 girls on his team historically. This year, the 19 (3 alternates) player roster has 8 girls on it. Very cool to see. All but 3 are dual rostered so we end up with a lot of question marks for each game.
 

Dummy Hoy

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I could talk for days about girls hockey. Theres all different issues involved with it, but having greater numbers of girls means your program can provide teams that are comfortable fits for people at different phases of their development.

Edit: The dual rostering can be a challenge, but it’s what allows for the all-girls teams to be successful.
 

tonyandpals

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Just two girls out of the 37 kids in our mite program (both 2014s). Three squirts out of 25. Sad, really.
 

VORP Speed

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Our program has tons of girls. My oldest daughter’s teams were about a third girls through mite and squirt. When she moved up to Peewee this year, there was a huge debate amongst girl parents about whether to stay or leave for the all-girls team. Ultimately almost everyone left, but my daughter refused to go so now there are only 2 girls on her Peewee team and those are the only girls out of the 3 Peewee teams.
 

tonyandpals

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How do you your programs run double rostered kids? How do you entice them to keep playing in town. What are they paying to play? This is a huge issue for us.
 

Dummy Hoy

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I avoid becoming Administration at all costs (at work and in coaching) so I'm not positive, but I think they give price breaks on the town team.
 

Foxy42

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Tony - happy to catch up and discuss. For our town we do not offer discounts and we don’t move practices to accommodate club teams. We focus on building up town / program pride and while it doesn’t stop our kids from playing club, it does keep them also doing town.

Last year my sons team had 17 on the roster (A team). It was never an issue during the season as we were almost always missing 4-5 kids. But then you get to the playoffs or play in a tourney and it sucks having they many kids.

This season we only have 13 skaters and a goalie. We lost a kid to injury before the season, so that puts us to 12 skaters…our first game this weekend had to be postponed (better than forfeited) as we only had 3 kids without a club conflict.

Brutal. But as we look at the schedule through the end of nov, there’s only 2 other games where we will miss more than 3. For those we will do call ups from the B team.
 

Fred not Lynn

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As a former Canadian hockey parent, I can only say how glad I am out of this world.
Hockey evaluators in my home city are like witness protection plan people. Come in separate entrances, are behind a curtain, etc.
The worst part is that evaluations are the most important event of the season, in September, so kids need to be in mid-season form right away…which means camps and clinics all summer, which makes doing other sports (i.e. baseball) almost impossible.
 

reggiecleveland

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The worst part is that evaluations are the most important event of the season, in September, so kids need to be in mid-season form right away…which means camps and clinics all summer, which makes doing other sports (i.e. baseball) almost impossible.
I mean you can. I usually had my kid skating a bit in the summer. But, our goal was never top tier, and I think it would have meant devoting his life to hockey to even have a chance at tier 1. He played baseball in the summer, skated enough to avoid getting really badly misidentified. Ended up 6'6 and is playing college hoops.

In Europe elite hokey starts at 16-17 years old and lots of those places produce pretty good top-end talent without 10 years olds playing 75 top level games a year.

The idea of identifying kids at such a young age is so ridiculous. My local hoops association is doing an "elite" level for 13-14 year olds, which I accept since kids that can make threes and have played for 5 years don't want to play with kids that have never played. Sure enough, there are parents wanting to get elite at all levels.
 

Fred not Lynn

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I mean you can. I usually had my kid skating a bit in the summer. But, our goal was never top tier, and I think it would have meant devoting his life to hockey to even have a chance at tier 1. He played baseball in the summer, skated enough to avoid getting really badly misidentified. Ended up 6'6 and is playing college hoops.

In Europe elite hokey starts at 16-17 years old and lots of those places produce pretty good top-end talent without 10 years olds playing 75 top level games a year.

The idea of identifying kids at such a young age is so ridiculous. My local hoops association is doing an "elite" level for 13-14 year olds, which I accept since kids that can make threes and have played for 5 years don't want to play with kids that have never played. Sure enough, there are parents wanting to get elite at all levels.
You got it right, but so many hockey-head dads don’t understand what you understand about Long Term Athlete Development.

Funny, because ALL the hockey orgs in Canada talk the LTAD talk, but none of them actually walk the walk. I don’t know how it is in Saskatoon, but in Calgary, the divide is after Pee Wee/U12; If you don’t make what they call “Quad Hockey” for first year Bantam/U14 you’ve been relegated to rec hockey and then beer league for the rest of your sporting life…it’s incredibly rare for a kid who didn’t make Quad at 13 to get there later, or to get anyone to take him seriously.

NO athlete’s high performance career should be written off at 13…
 

reggiecleveland

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It's the same here.
I taught at HS where all the Blades (WHL) went. Most of the big guys 6'3 plus were rural kids that got identified later, and got to play on the top team in their town because everybody got to play. There would be European kids that started hockey at 10 too. But, they were almost always Jan-March birthdays and early maturers. If parents copuld see these guys they would understrand you casn't hockey school your way into being a genetic freak. Even then half these kids flame out becasue they don't have the personality, work ethic, decision making etc. I t wasn't that long ago Bol Bol was projected as the top player in his class and a likely #1 pick.
 

tonyandpals

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My neighbor had a cup of coffee in the NHL with the Kings. He runs a boys club program now. He was never the best kid on his team. Not at 8u, 10u, 12u or even in high school. Skill wise even in college he said he wouldn't have considered himself the best player. It's a shame that kids get written off so early. My oldest is 12 now and where he 'stands' now with his peer group, it wouldn't seem like he has much of a shot at playing in HS. Which is fine for him. He just wants to be able to "play hockey as long as possible," his words. I'll support that all day. But you know what he's just recognizing. At almost 13yo, he is changing. He's suddenly the biggest and one of the strongest kids on the ice. He's not the fastest as he misses a key piece of aggressiveness. But, with a realization that when he has the puck a kid half his size shouldn't be able to take it from him, he's skating with a lot more confidence. So you just never know how things will shake out for a kid.

Re: multiple teams. I don't know what it is, and I think we're at the point with our program where we need to just ask (survey). The flee to club teams in our town is crazy. I don't know if affluence is a factor as people will just throw money at everything to solve what the they is a problem. We're basically at the point where if a kid doesn't make the top team in our program, they play another program along side ours (since they already paid a commitment fee) , and they'll likely leave the next year. The # of programs is astounding, with some having 4-5 teams/tiers at every age group. I had a kid (top mite team last year, he was bottom 3rd on the team) leave this year, would have been a 1st year squirt. He was fringe to make the first squirt team (of 2) with a good tryout , but being a 1st year and on the cusp, he'd likely be on the 2 team. I think his parent knew this and they went over to club team. They come the the end of the year party and are already committed there and the kid is talking about how he made the Elite team there. Note it was the first year they added his age group to that program, they had one team at that age, hence the Elite tag...

I look at the 10u teams (2) now and the the top team and 10 out of the 13 kids play on a second team. I worry how many of them will stay, not so much next year, but 12u for sure. I want to focus on keeping that core together as we didn't even have a Bantam team this year as we only had 3 commits...
 

Dummy Hoy

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There are a lot of different issues at play and I feel strongly about many of them lol...perhaps I'll try to get to them one at a time at some point.

But suffice to say there are a lot of issues with youth hockey in MA, even in towns with good numbers.