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Are Younger Siblings Better Hockey Players?

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 04/16/21, 1:30PM EDT

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What the data says about who has a higher chance of success

“Bring your brother with you!”

A callout by parents to get siblings playing together can actually have benefits in creating better athletes.

Professional hockey today is full of sibling groups. The Staal trio. The Tkachuk and Hughes brothers. Amanda and Phil Kessel.

What starts as natural sibling rivalries in backyards and driveways creates a healthy competition between family members. Having a sibling means there’s always someone to play with, often at the older sibling’s command of dragging the younger one along. In the minor hockey world, how many siblings do you know where one of them ends up as a goalie?

Which begs the question: why do studies show that the younger sibling often ends up being better at sports?

The research looked at elite athletes in 33 different sports in Canada and Australia and showed that they had a higher average of older siblings than non-elite athletes. A study of players on the American national soccer teams found that 75 per cent had elder siblings while only 20 per cent were the eldest sibling, with the remainder being an only child.

Further, when a pair of siblings both play the same sport professionally, the younger one goes on to be more successful about two thirds of the time.

Younger siblings can look up to their older brothers and sisters and want to follow in their footsteps and give them someone to learn from. They can benefit more from watching the older sibling than the older sibling can from watching them. If they are only playing with or against older siblings/players chances are there is also a size discrepancy. As they are smaller and not as strong, younger siblings are forced to be more creative in their skillsets.

It turns out hand-me-down equipment is more than just a money saver. It could unlock something special for younger siblings.


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