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U9 and Below

From a Child's View, Adults Find Full Ice to be ‘Lots of Chasing’

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 12/06/22, 11:00AM EST


“It’s daunting. It’s huge. You forget that when you get older.”

Photo Credit: Kevin Sousa Photography

It’s tough to imagine yourself on the ice as a 6- or 7-year-old player, but try to think just what it must be like. 

From their point of view, standing at one end of the rink and looking all the way down to the other end can feel like a million miles away.

In this video created by USA Hockey, adults played on a ‘full ice’ surface scaled to a 310x130 foot sheet to represent what it must look like the U9 and Below player on a ‘regular’ (200x85 foot) ice surface at your local rink. These were some of their comments about trying to play on such a large surface:

  • “It’s daunting. It’s huge.”
  • “It’s the view of what ice was like when we were kids. You forget that when you get older.”
  • “Looking out at this as a kid, it would be overwhelming. Just wondering if you’re going to get up and down the ice surface.”
  • “There’s so much room on the ice that you end up standing in open space and you’re not touching the puck.”

After seeing this, right-sizing the playing surface for younger players being introduced to the game makes sense. Cross-ice and half-ice games along with station-based practices provide the foundation to learn and love the game.

The right-sizing concept has been adopted across sports. Soccer uses a smaller ball and games using smaller fields and reduced number of players. Basketball has lower rims and smaller courts, Baseball starts on a tee with shorter base paths and Tennis has introduced cross-courts games and larger, softer balls.

We also see right-sizing everyday at our kids’ schools with smaller desks and chairs.

The concept of modified ice keeps players more engaged than they would be on full ice. In the video, the adults experienced what it was like to not be engaged on such a large ice surface.

  • “A lot of chasing. Not much puck contact.”
  • “If you’re out of position once, you’re not going to get back in it. You’re done for the play.”
  • “With a big sheet of ice, there’s a lot of one on one type play. So if you can beat one guy, the other team is so far away they can’t even catch you.”
  • “The passes are so long that they’re easy to intercept.”
  • “I think for kids, it makes it difficult because they lost interest if they’re not involved in the play.”

One of the goals of cross-ice hockey is to put players in a position to succeed and keep them coming back. 

Staying engaged through puck touches and being involved in the action means more development and more fun. The benefits speak for themselves when reviewing the statistics from a study on cross-ice hockey compared to a game on full ice: 

  • 6x more shots
  • 5x more puck battles
  • 5x more passes received
  • 2x more puck touches
  • 2x more pass attempts

Being involved in the action with the opportunity to have the puck means more puck touches, more passes, more shots and even more goals (and we all know that players love to do that).

Providing the right start for players establishes the basis for their future involvement in the game – a foundation of age-appropriate skill development and enjoyment – both lead to players staying in the game for life.

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