I wanted to re-post this again as we move into the summer. This was originally written a few years ago in response to a question for a former athlete.
With the new Facebook and Twitter feeds I think it will get a lot more views.
Q- I need to put together a summer plan for my 9 yr old hockey team. Obviously I don’t want to look like a crazy person, but it would be something that I think could be good for my own kids as well. Is it too young?
My first reaction was to say “are you crazy”? Instead, slightly tongue-in-cheek I developed the plan below.
Step 1- play another sport. Lacrosse is highly recommended as it has similar skills to hockey although baseball is fine. This does not mean another sport in addition to hockey. Summer is the off season.
Step 2- Cancel all hockey camp registrations except 1 week. Pick your favorite that has the largest number of your friends attending and go to that one. Ideally look for a camp that only has you on the ice once a day. No need to get blisters. You won’t get better in a week anyway.
Step 3- Cancel any summer hockey leagues you are scheduled for. The best players in the world never play summer hockey and, they never have. The only conceivable exception would be a weekly skill session lasting one hour. Another exception would be “play”. If ice is available and the kids can play, let them. Please remember play means NO COACHES or COACHING.
Step 4- Reread steps 1-3. Acknowledge that the key problem in youth sports is parents applying adult values to children’s activities.
Step 5- Go to the nearest bike shop. Get nice bikes for everyone in the family
Step 6- Ride the bikes, not in a race. For fun. Maybe put a few hockey cards in the spokes to make noise.
Step 7- Head to Walmart and buy fishing rods.
Step 8- Take the fishing rods to the nearest lake and fish.
Now that is an off-season plan for any nine year old.