It turns out, I’m not the only one intrigued and impressed by the ringette. At a recent ADM coaching clinic at the Pepsi Center, home of the Colorado Avalanche, coaches queried USA Hockey ADM Regional Manager Joe Doyle about them. And once again the players, this time Squirts, vied to get their sticks on the ringettes. According to Doyle, the drill — which involved holding onto the ringette while making big, wide, exaggerated fakes — helps with:
- Strengthening the bottom hand to help with competing for the puck
- Keeping the stick on the ice
- Avoiding high sticks
- Fostering creative moves
Aside from serving as a great segue to pucks in hockey drills, ringette is a sport in its own right. Popular with girls in Canada, the sport is similar to hockey — except the fast-paced game is played with a straight stick. Learn more about ringette in the following video:
To order your own ringettes, click here. I suggest the Ring Wrap With Ring (the removable wrap lets you use it on pavement).
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Kelly Anton, managing editor of the Grow the Game initiative, for this story.
1. USA Hockey’s team doctor, Dr. Michael Stuart, summarizes his recommendation—to delay body checking in games until the Bantam level while promoting a structured, progressive curriculum in practice to teach body contact, angling, anticipation and checking—in this video. (Watch the full video here.)
2. At the August 2010 World Hockey Summit, Brendan Shanahan weighed in, saying “I think player safety and skill development is more important.” Shanahan would know: he played for 21 years in the NHL and is now the NHL’s vice president of hockey and business development. Read the full story here.
3. Get answers to commonly asked questions on the rule change proposal here.
Remember, the rule affects legal body checking in games—not body contact in games, not checking in practice. Get the facts, then discuss among yourselves (we know you can't help it!).
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Kelly Anton, managing editor of the Grow the Game initiative, for rounding up these resources.
The proposed rule change will move the age of legal body checking in games from 12U to 14U. USA Hockey’s Board of Directors, Councils, Committees and Affiliate Presidents discussed all playing-rule proposals at their Winter Meeting in mid-January 2011. The USA Hockey Board of Directors will vote on the proposal in June 2011. If passed, the change would take effect for the fall 2011–2012 season.
How did the discussion begin?
The body checking discussion is one that has been going on for a long time within USA Hockey. This is a complex and emotional issue and is being looked at from many angles. Although safety is obviously a huge concern, we didn’t approach this initially from the safety side of the equation. We began by looking at how players develop their hockey-playing abilities. Over the past two years we began to evaluate how Squirt and PeeWee skaters play and react in similar on-ice situations. We observed that Squirts tend to be more aggressive, and emphasize skills (skating, stickhandling, passing and body position) in an attempt to make plays. The conclusion was simply that players at the Squirt level attempt to play the game in the correct manner.
In the same situations, however, many Peewee players react differently. Players at the PeeWee level were observed either allowing the opponent to get the puck first so that they can initiate body contact or laying off so that they don’t get hit. Although this may not be true for every player, we have found that it is common and prevalent at all levels of PeeWee hockey throughout the United States. With this being said, we do know that physiologically (and most importantly), players at this age are in their prime “window of opportunity” to acquire sports skills. The current rules we have in place hinder our children from the acquisition of skills at the highest possible level.
What else was learned during the study?
Although the original focus was not on the injury side of this issue, so much medical research information has been brought forward that it simply cannot be ignored. USA Hockey must always consider the health and safety of its players. A number of recent studies (in Canada at the AAA level) show that the serious injury rate at PeeWee is four times greater in checking vs. non-checking leagues. Of note is the fact that the injury rate between those same two groups is identical (and low) in practice.
What also came to light is the fact that, cognitively, the 11-year-old brain has not fully developed the ability to anticipate well. Anticipation is 50 percent of a player’s ability to protect himself and avoid heavy contact that leads to these serious injuries. We realize there should be contact in hockey; however, we do not want to place players into a situation where their cognitive skills are not yet fully developed to protect themselves. This is a function of brain development that players cannot “learn” by doing.
Who else was involved in this decision process for USA Hockey?
USA Hockey’s Body Checking Sub-Committee is made up of experts from a variety of areas. This includes people such as Dr. Mike Stuart from the Mayo Clinic who is USA Hockey’s Chief Medical Officer and the father of three sons who have played in the NHL; Al McInnis; Mike Millbury; and many others. USA Hockey has taken a very inclusive look at this issue.
Wouldn’t the rule change hurt bigger players?
During the PeeWee years (11 to 12 years old), most male players are just on the cusp of hitting their adolescent growth spurt. This means that it is still to be determined who will end up being the bigger players in the long run. The player that has greater size and strength at PeeWee may end up being on the average or smaller side when everything evens out during the later teens. This means that players who rely on size and strength at an early age do not develop the necessary playing skills they need to be effective later on. Body contact and body positioning skills are far more important for a player to acquire at the PeeWee age and are the precursor skills to effective checking and playing skills as they get older.
What is body contact vs. full-body checking?
It is not accurate to simply say USA Hockey is taking checking out of PeeWees. The overall proposal is to increase the allowable body contact beginning at Mites and progress through Bantam when full, legal body checking would begin in games. As an example, the American Developmental Model (ADM) Red, White & Blue Hockey at 8U introduces the cross-ice environment to increase traffic and congestion—and thus, the associated natural body contact—through simply reducing space.
The proposal would then increase the allowable body contact as player’s progress through Squirts and PeeWees. Competing at the puck, angling to gain possession or stop an offensive attack are examples at these levels. An important objective of this proposal is to eliminate the “big hit” in PeeWees where players ignore the puck and try to “blow up” an opponent.
Although not allowed in games, coaches will be asked to introduce and teach full-body checking techniques in every practice during the two PeeWee years. We believe this to be a better solution than what we oftentimes see today: a single weekend “introduction to checking” clinic. The proposal is to provide players two years to acquire the necessary checking skills in a safer environment.
Where can I get more information?
You may check out the body-checking rule change proposal by Kevin McLaughlin, USAH Senior Director of Hockey Development, and Brian Burke.
What does this mean for Spring 2011 at U12?
There will be no change to hockey in spring 2011. The 2011 spring season will be played under the current rules and format since the proposal will not be voted on until June 2011.
What happens to the PeeWees going into their second year?
Due to the nature of the two-year hockey levels, second year PeeWees will continue to learn proper checking during their training sessions so they can better apply them in 14U Bantam games.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to USA Hockey for providing this Q&A.
1. IT ISN'T REAL HOCKEY. USING HALF THE SURFACE AND THE SMALLER NETS WON'T HELP KIDS LEARN THE REAL GAME. Do other sports ask their youngest athletes to play on a full-size football field, use a 10' basketball net, run 90' bases or use a full-size soccer net? No. Smaller fields and equipment are used everywhere except in hockey. Age-appropriate surfaces and equipment help put the game into perspective for younger kids, allow for better development of their skills and, most importantly, help make the game more fun for the kids!
2. IT WILL BE TOO CROWDED ON THE ICE. I have now seen two practices in person with 60+ Mites on the ice at the same time and have watched multiple videos of practices with the same amount (or more) and have yet to see it look crowded. Well-planned practices with the right number of coaches to help run stations are effective ways to use ice efficiently without crowding. All of the kids I witnessed at these practices and jamborees were engaged in fun drills or games with lots of puck time and plenty of smiles!
3. THE KIDS WON'T LEARN TEAMWORK. How much teamwork is involved with one skater taking the puck from one end of a full sheet of ice, skating it all the way down, and then shooting before most of the other teammates can catch up or get involved in the play? You know you have seen it at a Mite full-ice game over and over. Cross-ice forces kids to work together in smaller areas to develop scoring opportunities and be creative.
4. THE KIDS WON'T LEARN TO SKATE. The ADM actually emphasizes age-appropriate skating drills and places a lot of focus on fun drills and activities that help players develop more over the long term. The smaller areas also help kids increase their quickness and explosive speed, which is best developed at the younger ages.
5. THE KIDS WON'T LEARN ABOUT POSITIONING. It won’t matter if kids know where to be if they can’t skate there or if they don’t enjoy the game. Also, teaching positions too early can stifle creativity and the ability to think on the fly. When they are older, players can learn more about positioning, breakouts, and forechecking systems without hurting their development early on.
6. THE ADM IS ONLY FOR THE AVERAGE PLAYER. Kids learn, grow and develop at different speeds. The 7-year-olds who you think might be the next superstar may not develop as fast as others later on. Providing good coaching and development to all is important when kids are young since early segmentation has proven to be unreliable as a predictor of which kids will develop into elite athletes. It’s best for those kids who excel early on to continue to focus on age-appropriate drills that will best help their long-term development. Those drills can help both the 6-year-old who has been skating for three years and the 8-year-old who is enjoying his first season.
7. HOW WILL KIDS GET IN SHAPE OR GET THEIR CONDITIONING? Have you battled for a puck in the corner and gone back and forth in about a 10' space for 20 seconds? Have you ever gone back and forth between the point and the slot four times? There are numerous ways kids can get conditioned in small areas or in small games, so don’t worry about missing out on that aspect with the ADM. There are a lot more ways than skating lines on a full sheet to build up conditioning, especially with fun drills and small-area games that keep kids smiling and wanting more even though they are dead tired!
8. TOO MUCH FUN IS A BAD THING. Really? If the kids are enjoying the puck touches, small games and scoring, and are learning to love development, how can that ever be a bad thing? I just don’t get that comment but hey, people have said it (I can’t make this stuff up). Think about it. If the kids come off the ice tired, developed, smiling and excited about when they can come back again for more, where is the down side? I wish everyone could find something they enjoy so much that is also great for their long-term development!
9. THE RINKS AND ASSOCIATIONS ARE JUST TRYING TO MAKE MORE MONEY BY JAMMING MORE KIDS ON THE ICE. It couldn’t be further from the truth. First, re-read the myth about crowding. Second, more efficient use of the ice can decrease your costs and can increase the number of times you practice each week. I, too, was once a hockey snob when my kids were younger and thought they needed more full ice. They would have been better developed if they had used the ice they had more efficiently and practiced more often than having a full sheet all to themselves. This could have improved their skills, made the game even more enjoyable, and helped reduced the costs mom and dad incurred each season.
10. THE KIDS WON'T HAVE AS MUCH FUN. Ask your kids if they like to play games or stand around? Ask them if they like to carry the puck and score goals? Ask them if they like whistles and stoppages in play? Kids invariable have more fun when they are actively engaged during practice or in a game. High-energy drills, variety of drills, drills with pucks and small games all help develop kids while they are having loads of fun! Also cross-ice games support these same ideals with more puck touches, more scoring opportunities and less stoppages and make for a more enjoyable game for everyone involved!
USA Hockey put a lot of research and effort into looking at how to approach the game—so give the ADM a chance when your organization implements the model. I am very confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results!
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Kevin Universal, president of the Carolina Amateur Hockey Association, for this story.
- It is imperative that all local programs have an adult (coach, assistant coach, team manager) present in the locker room, or at the locker room door, to assure that only players, coaches and approved team personnel are permitted in the locker room.
- Further, coaches/team managers must personally monitor the locker room environment at all times while players are present and also make sure the locker room is appropriately secured during times when players are on the ice.
Please make sure this information is shared with those appropriate and thank you in advance for your immediate and on-going attention to this matter.
Hockey Weekend Across America will take place this coming weekend, Jan. 29-31, 2010. The effort is aimed at celebrating the game of hockey and all involved in the sport and providing opportunities for those who haven’t played hockey to try it. The following article offers 10 great ways to celebrate the event.
Here are ten great ways to celebrate Hockey Weekend Across America:
- Wear your jersey to school
- Bring a friend to a public skate
- School project: Who is your favorite hockey player, why?
- Informational table at mall or high‐traffic area
- School seminars where they teach hockey and do demonstrations (put on hockey equip)
- Try Hockey for Free
- Shoot the puck expo
- Invite a neighbor to practice
- Hockey 101 courses
- Bring a friend to a game
For more great ideas click here (pdf).
Editor’s Note: Thank you to USA Hockey for these great ideas!
This is a countrywide effort to have local rinks and associations offer a free sample of hockey at a consistent time with the maximum amount of ease. The goal is to have least 200 rinks offer the program from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm their local time zone. For other questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: For more information on Hockey Weekend Across America, please click here.
A two-time Olympian. An NHL coach who helped create the National Team Development Program. A pair of highly respected Division I college coaches. A decorated Air Force officer with hockey experience at the highest levels. If Ken Martel has proven anything during his years as the recruiting coordinator for the National Team Development Program, it is that he knows talent when he sees it.
Martel, the director of the American Development Model, has put together a staff that will carry the word of USA Hockey’s revolutionary program, designed to improve the quality and quantity of American players involved in the game from Mites to Midgets.
“You win with the quality of people you have, and we have tremendous people with great backgrounds in hockey,” said Martel, who was one of the main architects of the program. “By the time we’re done, we’ll have 150 years of hockey experience working for the ADM.”
To date, Martel has hired five of the six regional managers who will serve as mentors for associations around the country. He is hoping to bring in the final member of his team in the coming weeks. Each member of the team not only brings an impressive resume to the position but also the passion to usher this groundbreaking program into this season and beyond.
- Roger Grillo, who spent the last 12 seasons as the head coach at Brown University, will serve as the ADM regional manager for New England and Massachusetts.
- Scott Paluch, who coached his Alma Mater at Bowling Green State University for the past seven seasons, will work the Mid-Am and Southeast Districts. “It was a difficult decision only because I spent the last 20 years as a college coach,” said Paluch. “It was an easy decision because of the merits of the ADM and the ability to make an impact on youth hockey.”
- Joe Doyle, a 20-year veteran of the United States Air Force with more than 35 years of experience with USA Hockey as a player, coach, evaluator and volunteer, will oversee the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Districts.
- Bob Mancini, who spent the past two seasons as a development coach for the Edmonton Oilers and has extensive coaching experience in the collegiate ranks and with USA Hockey, will oversee Michigan and parts of the Central and Mid-Am Districts. “I’m thrilled to be back,” said Mancini, one of the original coaches with the NTDP. “As much as I love the NHL and the Edmonton Oilers, this was too good an opportunity to be involved with. “I believe in USA Hockey, and the ADM. I believe in making kids better and improving their environment. I really believe that this is a position where we can really make a difference.”
- Guy Gosselin, a member of the 1988 and 1992 U.S. Olympic Teams, will lend his considerable expertise to coaches in Minnesota, the Dakotas and Wisconsin. He has extensive experience working at both the youth hockey and collegiate levels, and has worked in the rink industry in suburban Milwaukee.
The final regional manager is slated to work with the New York and Atlantic Districts. While no timetable has been set, Martel is working hard to narrow down a list of candidates in hopes of filling the position as quickly as possible.
“There’s still so much that needs to be done,” said Martel. “We could’ve used this program in place 10 years ago. Think of how far we’d be as a hockey-playing nation if this were put in place 10 years ago. We feel like we’re taking baby steps, but getting things done takes time.”
Editor’s note: For more information on USA Hockey’s American Development Model, Please click here.
The following article from USA Hockey’s American Development Model discusses why hockey is so important for our players. In addition to being a great way to keep your child active, it offers so many important life lessons. These lessons define the mission and goals of American Development Model.
How can the sport of hockey be so important – instrumental even – in the future success of a young man or woman? After all, it’s just a game. But it can be so much more than that. It’s a beacon of hope for wayward kids. A fitness program to fight the epidemic of childhood obesity. A meeting ground for lifelong friends. But at its heart hockey is, and should be, fun. A chance for kids to pour out their passion and creativity on the ice. For them to learn and grow with every practice. To just be a kid and enjoy the game. That’s what the ADM is all about.
So while we honor our past accomplishments, we need to look ahead and create a brighter future for all. With your guidance, the ADM will provide those great moments for our kids. That is, if we’re forward-thinking enough to see it through.
Put yourself in the shoes of an 8-year-old and ask yourself some questions. What’s important to you? What kinds of things do you want to be doing? (And, maybe most important, what’s for dinner?) Now list the things that would be appealing to the 8-year-old you - Family, Playing with friends, Goofing off. Because this is what kids do. They act like kids.
There isn’t a parent, teacher or coach who wouldn’t agree that today’s kids are brimming with potential. There’s that word: potential. It’s the great “what could be” in a kid – if given the proper push. A push from an encouraging parent, great friend or dedicated coach. Wherever that potential forms, it takes time to develop and it’s different for each kid - The potential to be a doctor, a Hollywood star or even an NHL center. The mission of the ADM is to pull out that vast potential in every kid.
Editor’s note: For more information on USA Hockey’s American Development Model, please click here.
S is for Stamina, Strength, Speed, Skill and Suppleness - These are the five trainable physical capacities that can be improved during age-specific periods of a child’s life.
T is for Touches (Practices and Games) - At each age level, there are prescribed numbers of ice touches to provide maximum opportunities for skill development while keeping the sport affordable for families.
U is for Under-Training - We have created a system where Squirts are playing more games than an NHL player. The amount of time spent on skill development and athleticism has given way to competition.
V is for Voluntary Program - While USA Hockey strongly encourages all youth hockey associations to follow the principles of the ADM, it is still a voluntary program.
W is for Windows of Trainability – These are the identifiable stages during a child’s physical and psychological development that offer optimum opportunities to develop particular physical capacities, such as stamina, strength, speed, sport skills and suppleness (flexibility).
X is for X-Ice – This is a more efficient use of ice time and space, allowing more kids to be on the ice at the same time, which keeps costs down and aids in skill development with the use of small area games. Grouping kids according to age and size also increases participation and skill development through more puckhandling, more shots, more saves, more goals and more fun.
Y is for Youth Hockey - This program is designed for every player in youth hockey, whether that player has set his or her sights on competing at an elite level or wants to pursue a recreational path.
Z is for Zero Time To Waste - Our hockey cultural has evolved over time, and in order to catch up to other countries, grow our ranks of players and increase the number of high-level players every youth hockey association around the country needs to adopt the principles of the ADM right away.
Editor’s note: For more information on USA Hockey’s American Development Model, please click here.