For some players, this season could be the third year they are playing modified-ice hockey. Designed specifically for the game’s youngest and newest players, the curriculum for modified-ice introduces the fundamental skills of the game. Skating, puck control, passing and all taught in an in age-appropriate setting so players can have fun and want to continue to play the sport.
The statistics that come from a study on cross-ice hockey prove that players stay much more engaged in the age-appropriate setting:
This increased amount of time with the puck on their stick will only help a player develop. It gives them the opportunity to make more decisions and forces changes of direction that wouldn’t be present using full ice. Modified ice hockey is an age-appropriate playing surface designed to maximize development. Using full ice surface can actually hinder development because of the lack of time with the puck.
Having possession of the puck means that players can give more passes, take more shots and score more goals (and we all know that players love to do that). It creates the chance to try new things, learn from their mistakes and grow their confidence. Kids know that plenty more opportunities to touch the puck exist and they can try again, instead of playing full ice when they may not get those same chances.
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One of the goals of cross-ice hockey is to put players in a position to succeed and get them to come back to the game. Staying engaged through puck touches and being involved in the action lets players have more fun.
“We’re tremendously excited to see players across the country experience the benefits of half-ice Novice hockey,” said Tom Renney, chief executive officer of Hockey Canada. “The focus is about making hockey more for these kids. They get more puck touches, more scoring chances, and ultimately, they have more fun.”
Similar to other sports, cross-ice hockey scales the playing environment based on a player’s size, age, and how much ice they can cover. Like how soccer uses smaller teams and field sizes and baseball starts off as t-ball, cross-ice hockey matches a player’s development progression. Like the equipment in school gyms is smaller for younger students and the desks are appropriately sized based on age, this programming stays in line with a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive developmental areas.
Rules like icing and offside, while crucial to the game, are not necessary during the introductory phase. A player’s focus should be on using their skating to learn the basic concepts of hockey.
If they are bored playing cross ice after all of this, what will the move to full ice mean for them? A larger ice surface means more skating for less puck touches. That’s not an equation for success when the focus on the game is having fun.
Without hearing it before, would a Novice player say they were bored of cross-ice? This is just the beginning of their journey in hockey and it is designed to ensure a positive, long-term experience. Players will be on full ice for many more years when they grow old enough for it to become age-appropriate.