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Parent of a Squirt. Wondering how many other parents are willing to share their experience about development from youth to HS. Specifically, I see our child as a talented skater, but lacking the actual knowledge of the game. Is that something we should expect at this level or does it change over time? If so, when have you experienced the largest growth spurts?
It somehow gets easier as the coaching, systems and on ice responsibilites get more refined. At some point most kids seem to 'get it' but a few remain lost. And it all depends if your expectations are to develop a 'sixth sense' of anticipation of the game (that few really ever inherit) or if it's just being able to take care of their on-ice assignments.
I will say some kids that are natural fans of the game and watch a lot of hockey it does help where a handful of kids that don't ever get it still play at some pretty high levels....provided a) they are exceptional skaters and b) have the size and work effort to compete.
The best part of the journey is seeing all of these top recruited players in peewees mature and not live up to the hype (As sad as that sounds). Amazingly some can ride their 12 year old legacy well into midgets and still make teams and find spots on the ice where they are in over their heads. Some are kids that mature early and are bigger & stronger than others and they turn a lot of heads and are sought after early while others just reach their upside early and then the speed and skill of the other kids catch up to them.
If I had to do it over again there are a few things I'd change that's for sure.
what would you change?
First I would have left Town hockey as soon as the kid could skate, it's good play time but there is very little hockey going on in 'Town Hockey,' I'd say seek out the top teams and top local tournaments, encourage the kid early on to play with an eye toward his development and getting noticed more than just playing solid and responsibly to get his team the 'W' (oddly enough you see this consistently of kids whose fathers played in the NHL...like 100% of the time), I'd have the kid play all skating positions well up to Midget hockey to develop different skill sets instead of specializing and being very very good at one spot. That's just a few off of the top of my head.
The things I learned that I wouldn't change is - it is all about skating. Great skate training is worth wasting a ton of time running around to play marginal games. Ice time is ice time, take it when you can get it anywhere anytime; If the coach is a jerk then leave as soon as possible or the kid will learn to hate the game.
Just a few random thoughts....
My son is a soph. in hs and is playing his second year on his varsity team. 85% of the players on his varsity team got out of town hockey early on. All of the juniors and seniors on the jv team and the ones that have quit already stayed in town hockey. Get him out of town hockey into a decent select program quickly. And it doesn't have to be ehf elite.