Q: As the season winds down for my 10U hockey player, what should be next?
A: In my opinion what’s next for our young hockey players once the season is over is to zip the hockey bag up, put it away for a while, and enjoy some baseball, lacrosse or other activities. It is very clear to us that full-time specialized hockey at 10U is not a healthy environment both physically and emotionally. To experience other sports, other coaches, other physical movement is really important to the overall development of the young hockey player. I completely understand the anxiety of players and parents that think that if their child is not playing or skating constantly they will be left behind those that do. The key is patience and looking at the long-term effects of too much, too soon and the reality that burnout is a major issue for kids that specialize at anything at an early age. There will come a time when skating and training for hockey year-round is critical, but the key is getting to that point with the love of the game and the journey still in place!
The author, Roger Grillo, has coached for more than 20 years at the high school and college levels. He spent 12 seasons as the head coach at Brown University and was a Spencer Penrose National Coach of the Year finalist in 1997-98.