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The good old (kids) hockey game
June 26, 2012 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Hockey moms and dads: what are your fave minor (kids’) hockey websites?

Asking for a single mom friend who’s thinking of putting her 7-year old son in hockey this fall. What are some good websites for her to check out? What issues do hockey moms/dads need to be concerned about? We’re thinking nutrition/hydration, drills, head injury stuff, equipement info/swaps (Toronto area). Other stuff?

Can you suggest some websites to keep on top of such things?

Thanks so much!
posted by Sweedeedee to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't know about websites; I'd suggest getting all this from other local hockey parents.

My son's a 2nd-year Bantam [14 yo] in MN.

My thoughts:

nutrition/hydration

He's playing an active sport. He should bring a water bottle on to the rink with him, but aside from that there's nothing hockey-specific to worry about. He should eat appropriately to any active kid. Sure, there will be lots of Super Deluxe Hockey Snax-n-Drinx at the hockey store, but remember that Wayne Gretsky didn't have any of that stuff.

drills

At that age, he should just skate a lot, and let the coaches suggest particular drills for the most part. To prepare for hockey, I'd just have him skate a lot on his own. He should get very comfortable on his skates. One drill my son did at 7 was to start at one end, skate forward to the blue line, reverse and skate backwards to the other blue line, then reverse and skate forwards to the red line. Do this over and over and over. Also, skate to the blue line, then dive onto your stomach. Get up and keep going. Over and over again.

The primary hockey skating skills to develop are speed, security on his skates, and ability to recover from falls or near-falls.

Get him a hockey goal, stick, and a dozen pucks. Every day, he takes 100 shots on that net from whatever distance. There are shooting aids that basically cover the goal except for small holes, but you can do the same by stacking cardboard boxes in front of it, or hang a swinging thing in front of it. Again, lots of shots = confidence on the ice.

head injury stuff

Buy a good helmet. Don't believe the "concussion-proof" marketing. At seven, concussion-causing accidents will be rare because the kids just won't be going very fast and they won't have far to fall.
posted by chazlarson at 11:27 AM on June 26, 2012


Hey there,

I joined MeFi just to post this!

It's awesome that you're helping out your friend, there's a lot to know on the sport of hockey! I'm not a parent myself but a longtime player, fan and lover of the game so there are a bunch of tips I can give.

1) As far as websites, check out hockeycanada.ca and hockeycanada.ca/multimedia/kids/ . Both sites will have a ton of info about programs, events, skills, etc. I'd also recommend checking out thehockeynews.com which is the largest hockey mag in the world. While mostly focusing on the NHL, there are back issues which have great resources on hockey equipment, summer camps and some decent kid-related issues. Livestrong.com, if i recall correctly, has good info on fitness and some drills too.

2) Before anything else - looking for teams, extra equipment bought - if he hasn't been signed up for Learn to Skate, DO IT! Hockey is built on skating, and getting him on the ice with an instructor will help immensely. Same with the fact that he can concentrate on just skating. Trying to learn to skate while everyone else is working on passing or puck handling will make the experience frustrating. Also, if the kid doesn't really like skating (which in turn will mean he probably won't like playing hockey), finding out for the cost of a Learn to Skate before you drop $500 on equipment and ice time is huge.

3) Speaking of equipment, you should be able to get most of what you need for gear used. I would recommend going this way for everything (pants, elbow pads, chest protector) OTHER than skates. New skates for a new player IMHO is important. They usually "bake" the new skates (put them in an special oven for a few minutes) then have the player put their feet in so the sole molds to their foot. Comfort is HUGE. Again, uncomfortable skates = frustration = quitting hockey = lots of time and money lost. Just find a reputable, friendly hockey store in the area and get them to help him out. They'll be able to find a good skate boot for him - just know the price range, skates even for 7-8 year olds can go $500+. As for a helmet that's a personal decision. Most used helmets should be good, but if your friend feels more comfortable with new go for it.

4) Nutrition/hydration. At his age and skill level - eat decent food and drink water. That's it! No mystery sports drinks or powerbars or crazy protein drinks. If he was 13 going into a competitive travel team, that's the time to introduce new eating/drinking ideas - but not at 7 :-)

5) Head injuries. Ok, the not-so-fun stuff. Hockey is a physical, tough sport. It's not for everyone. Injuries occur and recently, people have taken notice of concussions more than in the past. This is a good thing. The game of hockey has gotten faster and faster though. This is good for the players and fans, bad for injuries such as concussions. Two things will help - a well fitting helmet and a good mouth guard. But these are just preventative measures. The best defense is skating (ability to move out of the path of a hit) and the understanding to keep your head up and know how to protect your body. This does NOT mean someone will not elbow him in the head or that he might lose an edge on the boards and hit the back of his head on the dasher (this is how I got a minor concussion). But like any sport with risk, these few steps will cut down DRAMATICALLY on the chance of injury and concussions. I don't believe that hitting is legal in Canada at that age, so be aware of the risks, but don't try to prevent him from playing this wonderful game.

6) Lastly, I know from others who's children are working their way up the rungs of youth hockey that the game is a BIG time commitment for everyone involved. 5am practices, weekend tournaments, long commutes and terrible ice times - along with not great coaches and even worse parents. If after Learn to Skate the boy still wishes to play the best way to make sure is have an agreement, I feel. While your friends son might think he is the only one making the commitment, your friend is making a large commitment as well - and as a single parent, even bigger than before. Maybe it's the understanding that no matter how frustrated/badly things go, he has to play for a year or two. Maybe some sort of greater responsibility at home comes with it. Hockey as a sport demands great physical and mental sacrifices on the ice as well as off the ice.

7) Last thing about drills. Hockey Canada has some Youtube videos such as this! These videos are great great great and while no substitute for a coach can really help. Also, any hockey book that has lots of pictures with the drills is good. Body position is so important.

I hope this helps your friend. I hope he continues to play well into his 50's. He's about to start playing one of the best games in the world and with hard work and lots of love and support he will have memories and friends for a lifetime.
posted by packfan88c at 12:07 PM on June 26, 2012


I have a son who started hockey just before his 7th birthday in the Montreal area. He couldn't skate at the beginning and there is no problem with that: the C classification is for players with zero experience. The first 2.5 months consisted of practices 2-3 times a week and by the time they had their first game in mid-November, everyone on the team could at least get around on the ice and they all had a great time. We signed our boy up for power skating lessons once a week on the side and they really helped his technique. Hockey drills should be covered by the team/league practices, and you shouldn't need to go for outside help there, though any practice at home or with neighbourhood kids will obviously help.

The league website contained links to the league rules, to Hockey Canada/Quebec guidance material, and had everything you would want. People at the league were very helpful in answering questions in our case. You are pretty much forced to play for the league in your area (unless you go to a non-sanctioned league), so you might as well start at the league in your quest for information.

Sport nutrition is not really an issue at that age, and in our league all the teams have water bottles on the ice and provide regular breaks during practices.

You don't need to spend crazy money on equipment at that level, by which I mean it will still cost at least $200-$300 to get your kid kitted out with a mix of new and used equipment. It will be outgrown in a year. Skates need to be sharpened every 5-6 times on the ice for $5 a pop or more. The helmet is required to be CSA-approved by any league sanctioned by Hockey Canada. Get your gear somewhere where the staff understands what they're doing and how to size equipment, eg. not Wal-Mart or Canadian Tire. The guy we dealt with at Play-it-Again Sports was very good the first time we bought gear.

There's no deliberate contact allowed at the Novice level, but there are plenty of accidental collisions at the C level, and you can see more and more deliberate semi-legal playing of the body as skill levels improve. Occasionally your kid will get hurt to the point of tears (almost always from an accidental collision) and will need to be helped to the bench, and you will have some anxious moments waiting for him or her to get up. In two years of attending games I've seen ambulance called twice as precautionary measures, once for a kid on my son's team, once for another team at a tournament.

I mentioned how you are forced to play for a specific league. You also have no choice over what team you play for if there is more than one in your league at your skill level. Coaches can make a huge difference in how much fun the kids and parents have. Some coaches (and some parents) take things way too seriously and lose track of the fact that the goal is not to win as many games as possible but to get the kids to love the sport. I've heard of 8-year-old kids getting sick with anxiety over house-league game outcomes, and that is insane. As a parent in the stand you also have to be prepared for high passions in the stands around you, as well as your own, and be able to remind yourself that it's just a game, especially when the 14-year-old referee makes an outrageously bad call against your son's team in the playoffs. As my son's first coach said "It's all part of the game."
posted by cardboard at 6:41 PM on June 26, 2012


Thanks so much for the heartfelt and thorough responses! Really appreciate it.
posted by Sweedeedee at 8:33 AM on June 27, 2012


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