08/28/2019, 8:00am MDT
By Joe Bonnett, ADM Regional Manager
Q: We are starting our first season of 8U hockey this fall with our son. My husband and I are so excited to watch our son play and start his journey toward the NHL. What advice can you give me to make sure he is on the right path?
A: Ice hockey is the greatest team sport on our planet and we’re excited that you and your family are participating in this great game. I admire your passion for hockey and encourage you to explore youth hockey with your child in a fun, sporty, positive manner.
My first piece of advice is to be sure to pick a program that will nurture your son’s passion for the game. 8U hockey should promote fun in an athletic environment that leaves your child craving more hockey. Hopefully the club you choose has adults in charge that understand childhood development and challenge your son in an age-appropriate manner. Hopefully your son’s practices look different than practices of the 1980s. For optimal fun and skill development, your child should be in small groups of players receiving lots of repetitions and touches, high brain activity, minimal down time and plenty of encouraging feedback from coaches. At the end of practice, if your child is sweaty and smiling, you are well on your way to building the love of the game which will propel your child as he grows into an adult.
Another piece of advice is to find a club that promotes sporty lifestyles. 8U is a time when off-ice activity should be emphasized once or twice a week. Simple balance, agility and coordination games or drills should be played in a safe atmosphere near or at the rink for 20-30 minutes. Acquiring strong skills in all-around athleticism at the 8U stage will help your son acquire difficult hockey skills as they progress in the coming years.
Finally, I would recommend slowing down the journey-to-the-NHL mindset. It’s a long road to the Stanley Cup and 8U isn’t meant to be viewed as the on-ramp. Slow down, enjoy the process and recognize that there’s no need to rush. Ice hockey is a late-development sport.
Recently, Sportsnet Canada picked its top 100 NHL players. Among that group, the average age was 27.35. Of those top 100 players, 79 percent were age 25 or older. Five of those top 100 players were selected in the seventh round or later of the NHL Draft. Four weren’t even drafted at all.
In short, NHL careers are not determined at 14U and below. But in these formative years, you can significantly improve your child’s physical literacy and passion for the game. That leads to a lifetime passion for hockey and healthier, physically active lifestyles. Conversely, if you rush the process and push too hard, you can burn out your child’s candle before puberty hits. I’ve seen many families push hard during 8U, 10U and 12U hockey, only to fizzle out at 14U. That’s not the outcome you want. By maintaining a patient, long-term athlete development approach, you will enjoy the journey with your son significantly more.
09/06/2019, 3:00pm MDT
By Michael Rand
The benefits of playing hockey might be obvious to most people who are already deeply ingrained in the sport.
For those who have little or no experience with hockey, however, some convincing might be in order. After all, everyone who loves the sport now was a beginner with no exposure at one point.
With that in mind, here are five reasons parents should sign their kids up for 8U hockey:
This is the place to start with any sport, but particularly hockey says Kenny Rausch, a regional manager for USA Hockey’s American Development Model.
“The main reason it’s fun is that it’s unique,” Rausch said.
Indeed, there aren’t many sports like it. A puck? Skates? Ice? What happened to running around with a ball? But that’s the fun of it.
“You’re on ice wearing skates, which is different than just going to a playground,” Rausch said. “You are mastering the challenge of skating on a one-quarter inch blade of steel, which makes it more fun than just another sport where you just go run around. You have to learn to skate and master that.”
Rausch knows that some sports, camps, clubs and activities are more active than others.
“We’ve all seen the poor little kid who never touches the ball, never gets involved in the play, and so they just stand around because it isn’t designed to include everyone. That’s not fun,” Rausch said. “If you watch some kids’ activities, it’s unbelievable how much standing around there is.”
Hockey, on the other hand, is close to non-stop motion at the 8U level when it’s at its best. That means kids are active and engaged – and therefore more likely to get exercise and have fun.
“If it’s done right at 8U, being around the puck on small surfaces, hockey is a very engaging sport,” Rausch says. “If you do 8U hockey properly there’s no work-to-rest ratio. Kids might be moving 45 minutes of a 60-minute practice if it’s done right.”
But what about keeping kids safe? That’s a question any parent would naturally ask, particularly when signing a young child up for something new.
“The easiest way to say it, and not to be flippant, but an accident can happen in any sport anywhere,” Rausch said. “But with all the initiatives we have like Heads Up, Don’t Duck and teaching body contact properly, we’re trying to minimize dangers. I think we’re on the cutting edge of safety and doing the right things for all of our athletes at all ages.”
Most sports have rewards that go beyond physical, but hockey in particular promotes lessons that last a lifetime.
“The winning and losing, the respect of playing against other people and the competitive element,” Rausch said, when asked about some of the biggest lessons learned from the sport.
But why hockey in particular?
“When you speak with people involved, hockey players are the most grounded and humble pro athletes out there. There is a certain work ethic involved that it takes to be a hockey player,” he said. “One of the biggest reasons is that even though baseball, soccer, football are team sports, they’re dominated by individuals. That’s rare in our sport.”
And finally, if you start your child playing hockey at age 8, they might continue to play it well into their adult years. That kind of lifetime sport is not unique but it is rare.
“When you think of playing sports for life, hockey and golf come to mind,” Rausch said, adding tennis to the mix later. “Those are all ages for the most part. You can keep playing and people do. Once you play hockey people tend to keep playing.”
That means the benefits of signing up for hockey are not just short-term. If your child ends up playing adult hockey – which is where we all end up eventually – that means they’re pursuing a healthy, active lifestyle.
And hopefully they can pass the game on to their kids.
Good Morning Mini Mite Parents and Coaches: Brrrrrr...... Looks like I brought back one day of warm weather (Friday) from Florida, but it's back to winter for now. I had a GREAT 10 days all over the state of Florida golfing, boating, beaching and visiting family. I was concerned our flight was going to be cancelled back to Michigan, because it was barely 1/3 full. My son and my brother said my wife and I got out just in time. They both said that golf courses and beaches were going to start shutting down soon and a ton of flights were being cancelled daily. The day we were at Ft. Myers beach it was PACKED with kids on spring break and a ton of families. That is gonna take a huge hit on tourism this time of year down there.
As of today, the Cube is still shut down and I saw on the Cube website, the employees are doing serious scrubbing, cleaning and painting in anticipation of opening. When, is the big question. I heard from Peggy the other day and we are still hoping for a spring season for both Mini Mites and those moving up to Mites. But the start date is still to be determined. If there is to be a spring season, it will NOT begin before 4/8/2020. AAAHA is ready to re-do the schedule if they get the all clear in April. My suggestion is to keep an eye on the AAAHA website and I can contact all if I get any further information from them as well.
I am still bummed that our Jamboree and Party were cancelled, but the safety of the kids, parents, coaches and Cube staff are priority one right now. Somehow I will get your child's end of the year award and program to all of you. If we have a spring season, I can pass them out at MM practice and I will make some arrangements with Adam Gacek and Joe Huntzicker to attend a Mite practice. Worse case scenario, when the weather and the current situation changes, I'll set a table up outside the Cube doors, set some hours up and you can run your child up to see me and get their stuff.
So that's about it for now. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I'm going a little stir crazy at home with no hockey. But most importantly, stay warm, stay safe and stay healthy.........
Saturday 4/4 Stadium Rink 8 AM
Saturday 4/18 Varsity Rink 9 AM
Saturday 4/25 Stadium Rink 7 AM
Sunday 4/26 Stadium Rink 8 AM
Saturday 5/2 Stadium Rink 8 AM
Saturday 5/9 Stadium Rink 8 AM
Any Questions: Contact Coach Ron
This is Evie Tyler. She is the baby sister of one of my current Mini Mites. Just turned three, she came out Saturday afternoon to our Try Hockey For Free Event. She gave me three Coach Ron ism's during her hour on the ice. 1) "I'm gonna bust it, Coach Ron" 2) "I got two hands on my stick and my stick is on the ice" 3) "I'm gonna chase you now!" NEVER too young to teach them to skate and play hockey! She is going to start Mini Mites in the Fall.......
Good Monday Morning Parents: Hard to believe that our fall/winter season is winding down. We had great practices last weekend and the kids were just flying around the ice. Just wanted to give everyone a heads up that on Saturday March 21st, we will be celebrating the end of the hockey season with our annual Mini Mite Jamboree and after skate party in the Cube lobby. I'll hammer out the exact times of the skates (still in the morning) and the party starting time as we get closer to the date.
Yes, we teach our Mini Mites to fly like a Superhero
Good Afternoon Mini Mite Parents: Just wanted to give you an early heads up that Mini Mite Picture Day will be Saturday November 2nd, 2019. We have a new photographer this year taking our pictures and he is excited to work with our group. Unlike previous years, the order form is on line only and you can download and print the order form here. : http://www.hurricanefx.com/hockey.pdf He also has a sample page with all of the background and packages you can choose here. http://www.hurricanefx.com/hockeysamples . I am not sure if the photographer will have any hard copies of his forms available on picture day, so make sure you download the order form before you come to the rink on the 2nd.
This is the only date that Mini Mite Pictures can be taken, so please make arrangements for your child to be there. With over 40 kids in our three groups, it is very important to arrive early for picture day. It is often a very hectic and confusing day and we want to keep the line moving and to make sure your child is in the right group picture. Make sure you get your child dressed in the locker room that day. The last thing we need is parents, players or me tripping over hockey bags in the photo shoot area.
I will be off ice all morning, so track me down if you have any questions or problems. Make sure you mark "Mini Mites", what group color (red, green or blue) your child is in and "Coach Ron" on the form as well. That will make it easier for the photographer to get everyone's pictures separated and back to us in a timely manner. Please remember to fill out the forms completely. The only lost pictures in previous years were due to incomplete forms. The photographer is a great and patient guy, but please remind your child (as I will) that his cameras, lights and back drops are very expensive and I do not want to replace his equipment.Do not swat at a puck, keep your stick on the floor and don't be shoving and pushing. Here is the skating and picture times for that day:
Blue Group Mini Mites skate at 7 AM, pictures at 8 AM
Red Group Mini Mites skate at 8 AM, pictures at 7:30AM
Green Group Mini Mites Skate at 9 AM, pictures at 8:30 AM
If your child (Blue group) skates before their pictures, toss a brush in their bag to get rid of hockey helmet hair. Go to the locker room after practice, take off their helmet, grab their stick for the individual picture and find me in the hallway. We will do all individual pictures first, followed by our group photo. (Coaches included). If you have any more questions, feel free to contact me. Enjoy your weekend off from hockey and I will see everyone on the 26th.
Good Evening Mini Mite Parents for the 2019/2020 Fall Season:
Mini Mites Head Coach
Ann Arbor Amateur Hockey Association
Good Morning Mini Mite Parents: Hope everyone is having an enjoyable summer. My golf league is almost over, so that means that hockey season is right around the corner. I am Coach Ron and I will be your child's Hockey Coach for the Fall/Winter session. I received these E mail addresses from AAAHA. I communicate a lot of info with the parents through E mail, If you have another alternate (or one for both mom and dad) E Mail, feel free to send them to me and I will add them to the list. I attached a copy of our hockey schedule for the entire season, beginning with the evaluation skates on 10/5 & 10/6 for your convenience. I will also put a hard copy on the AAAHA bulletin board here shortly as well as one on the Mini Mite Page of the AAAHA web site. (aaaha.org)
I am planning a parents/players/coaches meeting at the Ice Cube in mid to late September. I am hoping & waiting that the jerseys and socks arrive, so we can distribute them at the meeting as well. So as soon as they arrive, I'll nail down the date of the meeting and let all know. Returning Mini Mite Parents: PLEASE get the opposite color jersey your child had last year and keep both of them in their hockey bag. That will help in case there is an uneven amount of players in a respective group. It is very important for the parents of the new players and last year Tim Bits to come to this meeting. You can bring in all completed paperwork if you did not complete it on line. We will introduce you to our coaching staff. We also will go over what our goals for the season and practices will be like and what can be expected from coaches, players and parents. It is relatively pain free. I try to keep it short since we all worked that day and I leave the end of the meeting open for any questions you might have. New parents: Remember your child HAS to be in complete hockey gear including a neck guard. No neck guard means I cannot let your child on the ice. Buy two and keep them in their hockey bags. That is the piece of equipment that gets lost the most. I must have 3 or 4 neck guards in my hockey bag just from last spring. Mouth guards are NOT mandatory at the Mini Mite age, but highly suggested. It saves the teeth, and aids in concussion issues. Mini Mites fall A LOT! Coach Ron is very good at understanding Mouth Guard talk.
Finally if any of the new dads (or moms) want to help out on the ice as an assistant coach, please contact me ASAP! There are forms to fill out and videos to watch. I cannot let anyone on the ice (even if it is once) without them having all paperwork turned in BEFORE our first skate. USA Hockey, MAHA and AAAHA are all putting the hammer down this year on undocumented coaches. And I am the one facing suspension if I let anyone on the ice who does not have all paperwork in. Just contact me and I have a cheat sheet on what forms and videos you need to watch. We can NEVER have enough coaches on the ice. Last year we had 57 skaters and 17 coaches. A good coach to player ratio.
Well that's it for now. Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day Weekend and we will see you soon enough. If you have any more questions, issues or comments feel free to contact me at your convenience. Hope to see parents and children around the rink this fall. Yours in youth hockey.........
Mini Mites Head Coach
Ann Arbor Amateur Hockey Association
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