Photo Credit: Digital Sports Photography
With the regular season in full swing and everyone getting used to being back in game mode, teams can still take a serious approach towards the final score without resorting to shortening the bench. While coaches and parents may think it gives their team a better chance to win it can often have the opposite effect to the majority of the players. Giving more playing time to some skaters means you’re taking it away from the others. Should a player’s memory of their final games of the season be of the feeling that they helped their team win or that they watched the majority of it from the bench?
Equal playing time got you this far – why stop now? Here are five reasons why it will still work for your team.
Kids play hockey to have fun. It keeps them coming to the rink with a smile on their face for every practice and game. If a child knows they won’t be playing during a game they can lose the motivation to play hard and ultimately a love for the game. It’s not fun to not be playing and all kids should be playing for as long as possible, in the best environment possible. Everyone on the team knows they are there for the same reason – to have fun.
Players need the opportunity to develop and experience different game situations like powerplays and penalty kills. Without having an appropriate amount of playing time players can fall behind in their development. Kids grow at different rates and a team that knows how to work together can rely on teamwork to balance out individual strengths and weaknesses.
Parents and players can’t be upset at coaches if everyone is given an equal amount of playing time. What was communicated to the parent group from the coaches at the beginning of the season shouldn’t change just because the stakes may be higher. Players who know they will still see the ice even after a mistake don’t have to worry about the stress of having someone looking over their shoulder.
Players need to have the proper amount of rest and recovery during the season, especially in tournament scenarios where teams may be playing multiple games in one day. Coaches run the risk of increasing burnout in their players if they shorten the bench and an overuse injury could result. With an equal amount of playing time and the rolling of lines, coaches can have flexibility in their lineup.
When players understand the value they bring to a team they are more willing to focus on working together as a group. Having players with strong teamwork skills helps on the ice and builds the relationships off of it. Players need to be able to trust each other and put the team ahead of themselves. With everyone contributing it gets all the players to buy-in to the message and can eliminate any jealousy or competitiveness within the lockerroom.
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