Just as there are kids who are early bloomers, there are those who may take a bit longer to reach the same level of skill development. Nobody can predict the future and trying to get a jumpstart on reaching a player’s full potential can end up being a step backwards. Are players relying solely on their physical stature to be successful at this stage? Or do they actually have a skillset far beyond their peers?
A hockey team is like a classroom. One child may excel in reading while struggling in math while others are the opposite. Does it make sense to move them up just because they exceed in one area? If a player is struggling in an aspect of the game, they aren’t sent down to a younger age group. Instead of solely focusing on those who are excelling, let’s find out why a child may be struggling and work to fix it.
“If we were to line up all the weaker players in an age group on the goal line and told them to have a race to the other end of the rink, somebody’s going to win. Somebody’s going to be the fastest. If we were to line up all the best players and tell them to have a race, somebody’s going to win. There’s always going to be a best player on the ice. Just because you’re the best player on the ice, doesn’t mean the right move is to move up,” said Aaron Wilbur, founder of The Coaches Site.
As we all know, some of our best friends in life started out as our hockey teammates. Factoring in emotional maturity can be overlooked during this decision-making process. Playing up means that players won’t be sharing the locker room with their friends and classmates and are suddenly exposed to social situations that they wouldn’t have otherwise experienced.