“The way kids are going to best enjoy the sport and keep coming back is by learning skills, feeling confident, having a sense of improvement, that’s what’s going to keep them coming back. The other elements, I think balance, like everything, is probably in order.”
It’s important for associations to maximize their use of ice time. Teams can incorporate off-ice training (weather permitting) for activities like conditioning and team building. When running drills or scenarios, coaches can stop the play and walkthrough with the players to explain without having to worry about how ice time is being used. Players can even work on stickhandling and passing off the ice while focusing on skating on the ice.
For those looking externally for extra help on the ice through guest instructors, that can be another cost added during the season. Kevin Hamilton, Director of Hockey Development with the OMHA, suggests reaching out to coach mentors and using other resources in order to build up from the inside.
“People’s perceptions, sometimes when they bring in outside instructors and skill development people, there’s a perception that because we’re paying extra for this, it’s got to be better,” said Hamilton. “I think we do a really good job of offering educational opportunities to our coaches. I think if we help build their skill base and their confidence in terms of delivering these skills, there should be less of a need to engage outside ‘experts’.”