Chalk Talk: Should your child stay home or move to develop?
Many parents struggle when presented with the choice of whether to have their child play home or away at young ages.
Sometimes when players are strong at young ages, they are invited to play for other associations that are away from home. This choice should never be made lightly – a lot of thought has to go into this decision and many factors have to be taken into account. Coaching, ice touches and environment all should be taken into consideration.
In addition, parents should take into account their child’s long-term athletic development, just as much as the coach inviting the player to come to their squad should take this into consideration. Is this what is best for the long term for the player? Will the player get enough development time playing away from home? Why does the coach want to have a player who will miss mid-week practices instead of having a local player he can develop for the long term? These are all questions that should be asked and answered before making such a big decision, especially at 10U and 12U.
Coaching is a big concern of all parents and they should always try to put their child with the best teaching coach in the best environment they can, to give their child every opportunity for success. Coaching is more important than level – coaches develop players. As a parent, it is important to have your child in the right environment to develop. The way this is done is with ice touches in a team environment. Private lessons are great for skills, but team environment is where hockey players are developed. When deciding to have your kid play out of town, parents need to make sure this is addressed. Is the player practicing enough? Does the out-of-town team have team practice weekends or is your player just a game player? Is your child skating during the week in a team environment with a coach that can give them all the tools for success and development?
We talked already a bit about ice touches. I encourage all parents to look at the Long Term Athlete Development model by USA Hockey. The foundation is put in place early by being on the ice in the proper teaching environment. Sometimes, kids develop faster at young ages and get moved ahead too quickly. They miss out on some important development windows and this catches up to them as other players improve.
Environment is big to development. Is your child in the proper environment where he can succeed? Is he a part of the team? Is he a contributing player? Does he get the opportunity for special teams and important situations? This is very important for the player’s development. Sometimes when players play out of town and miss practices, they don’t get to see these situations.
It is always the families’ choice to do what they think is best. Sometimes, the best choice is to play away. It is important that all decisions are made with the player’s best interest in mind, for the long term. Windshield time can be hard on a family. This will be the first big decision made by families and both the family and the inviting coach have to make sure they all have the players’ development in mind. What is the best environment for the child to develop? Out-of-town tournament teams are fun and great opportunities for kids to play at different levels, in different environments and with different players and coaches. It is the choice to have your child play out of town for the entire season that is tough and really needs consideration.
Please remember, the player drives the bus. Don’t put a kid in a bad situation because you, as a parent, want it.
Dell Truax is the head coach for the Nevada Storm’s Pee Wee AA team.