This week is all about focussing on your options. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, traffic is backed up way past the cut as you make your way home. It’s spring!
And we’d be irresponsible if we didn’t talk about spring hockey just a little bit, right? That’s why we’re going to talk about it for the next three posts.
If you’re playing spring hockey, chances are you’re well into the spring development season already, so your choices have already been made. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t scrutinize your decision closely. After all, spring hockey is an added expense, right? People come and go from different spring teams all the time based on one reason or another. The key is to look for an option that works for you.
Even if that option is not to play at all.
It makes me sad when parents tell me they’re only playing spring hockey because they’re afraid of being left behind. First, the parent doesn’t play, the athlete does. Second, if an athlete isn’t motivated to continue playing hockey in the spring, then the investment is probably being wasted. Spring hockey is about improving your game in the offseason, but not at the expense of having fun. The winter season is a grind, so it’s crucial to enjoy yourself in the spring. It’s a lot easier to learn when you’re motivated and having fun, even if you’re motivated to do something that doesn’t occur in a freezing hockey rink.
If your child has the option of playing on a high level, elite travelling spring hockey team, it’s usually too good an opportunity to pass up, right? These types of teams are built to win tournaments, so it’s a good way to place your child in competitive environments during the summer. It’s all about experience - being exposed to this type of pressure in the spring and summer can have positive effects once the situation is duplicated during the winter season.
These teams are usually built around a focus on skill development. While this team might enter a couple tournaments in the spring, the coaches concentrate on delivering challenging practices to preach the basics of skating, stickhandling, passing, shooting, and checking. These teams are also why different levels exist in most spring tournaments these days, because it’s still fun to play games and put into action the elements being taught in practice.
Ask your child what they want to do in the spring. There are plenty of kids who want to get on the ice, but would also like to play other sports. This doesn’t mean these kids will get left behind once tryouts start in September, it just means they’ll be hungry for competition while also possessing a summer’s worth of skill-specific hockey training. You can always add a little NSWC 3on3 to the mix as well to satisfy the urge to compete (instead of seeing that urge played out with a younger sibling).
It all comes down to the preferences of individual athletes. There’s no sense in force-feeding a spring hockey program to an unresponsive child; in fact you’re actually doing more harm than good. Some kids want to keep playing, some want to try other things. Some will learn and develop in the spring, some won’t. Once the winter starts, everyone is back on a level playing field anyways.
But really, who wants to talk about winter hockey right now? I don’t. It’s spring! Get outside and do something!
Like spring hockey! Or not!