As the new hockey season gets under way a lot of work has been going on behind the scenes to ensure this is the best year your son/daughter has ever had playing hockey. With the implementation of the "American Development Model" (ADM) things may look a little different. This is a positive change that will benefit your child greatly. If you haven't visited USA hockey's website to read about ADM, we encourage you to do so. For those of you that have attended our ADM clinic and the meetings we have held regarding ADM implementation, you probably have some idea of what to expect and are, hopefully, excited about the changes. For everyone else we want to give you some idea of what to expect this season. ADM implementation will affect all levels of hockey at AAAHA, in a positive manner, but will have the biggest impact at the Mite level this season. Here is a rundown of what to expect, generally:
1. Joint Practices - Most practices this season will be shared-ice. In the past that has meant Team 1 at their end and Team 2 at their end. With the implementation of ADM we want to discourage an "us" and "them" way of thinking, the sole focus is developing skills and making it fun. The majority of practices will be set up with multiple skill stations across the whole ice, maybe a small area game at one end and the kids will rotate through the stations having exposure to both teams coach's and both teams players. This will allow all the skaters to take advantage of the knowledge and skill of all the coaches on the ice and an equal opportunity for development. The mandate to the coaches is to improve the skill level of all players and not work to make his/her team the “best”.
2. Cross Ice Games - One of the biggest changes that you will see this year at the Mite level will be the implementation of cross ice games. These Small Area Games will also be a part of practices at all levels of hockey in AAAHA this season. This is a fundamentally sound principle that will become the standard across the U.S. over the next couple of years. Here are a few reasons this works to your child’s advantage:
· It brings the focus of practice back to teaching skill, not teaching schemes/plays/breakouts/offsides.
· All of us have seen the Mite full ice game that is dominated by the 3 kids that have superior skill. Sometimes our kids may only touch the puck 3 times in a 30 min game. With “Small Area Games” or SAGs, the playing field is leveled. Once the ice becomes smaller, our kids will have significantly more puck touches and be forced to figure out what to do with it quickly
and in a small area.
· It makes them smarter hockey players in the long run. How? The small ice game transitions much faster, much more often, from offense to defense and from defense to offense. Situations (1 vs 1, 2 vs 1, etc.) develop quickly and more often, players are forced to make quicker decisions and goalies get more shots and face quickly developing plays more often.
The final format of our Mite program is still under consideration. Most likely there will be some sort of mix of Cross-ice and full ice games, with an emphasis on full-ice games later in the season. However, we envision the majority of ice-times will be comprised of multiple skill stations and small area games for practice and cross ice games on "game day".
3. Overall Development - Our kids will only get better by touching the puck more, touching the ice more, and working on their skills. With this style of practice and games there will be very little standing around very little wasted time. It may take us a month or so to refine things, but this should be the best season of development that your child has ever had. As parents ourselves, we are excited about the changes that this style of development means for our own kids.