The benefits of playing hockey might be obvious to most people who are already deeply ingrained in the sport.
For those who have little or no experience with hockey, however, some convincing might be in order. After all, everyone who loves the sport now was a beginner with no exposure at one point.
With that in mind, here are five reasons parents should sign their kids up for 8U hockey:
This is the place to start with any sport, but particularly hockey says Kenny Rausch, a regional manager for USA Hockey’s American Development Model.
“The main reason it’s fun is that it’s unique,” Rausch said.
Indeed, there aren’t many sports like it. A puck? Skates? Ice? What happened to running around with a ball? But that’s the fun of it.
“You’re on ice wearing skates, which is different than just going to a playground,” Rausch said. “You are mastering the challenge of skating on a one-quarter inch blade of steel, which makes it more fun than just another sport where you just go run around. You have to learn to skate and master that.”
Rausch knows that some sports, camps, clubs and activities are more active than others.
“We’ve all seen the poor little kid who never touches the ball, never gets involved in the play, and so they just stand around because it isn’t designed to include everyone. That’s not fun,” Rausch said. “If you watch some kids’ activities, it’s unbelievable how much standing around there is.”
Hockey, on the other hand, is close to non-stop motion at the 8U level when it’s at its best. That means kids are active and engaged – and therefore more likely to get exercise and have fun.
“If it’s done right at 8U, being around the puck on small surfaces, hockey is a very engaging sport,” Rausch says. “If you do 8U hockey properly there’s no work-to-rest ratio. Kids might be moving 45 minutes of a 60-minute practice if it’s done right.”
But what about keeping kids safe? That’s a question any parent would naturally ask, particularly when signing a young child up for something new.
“The easiest way to say it, and not to be flippant, but an accident can happen in any sport anywhere,” Rausch said. “But with all the initiatives we have like Heads Up, Don’t Duck and teaching body contact properly, we’re trying to minimize dangers. I think we’re on the cutting edge of safety and doing the right things for all of our athletes at all ages.”
Most sports have rewards that go beyond physical, but hockey in particular promotes lessons that last a lifetime.
“The winning and losing, the respect of playing against other people and the competitive element,” Rausch said, when asked about some of the biggest lessons learned from the sport.
But why hockey in particular?
“When you speak with people involved, hockey players are the most grounded and humble pro athletes out there. There is a certain work ethic involved that it takes to be a hockey player,” he said. “One of the biggest reasons is that even though baseball, soccer, football are team sports, they’re dominated by individuals. That’s rare in our sport.”
And finally, if you start your child playing hockey at age 8, they might continue to play it well into their adult years. That kind of lifetime sport is not unique but it is rare.
“When you think of playing sports for life, hockey and golf come to mind,” Rausch said, adding tennis to the mix later. “Those are all ages for the most part. You can keep playing and people do. Once you play hockey people tend to keep playing.”
That means the benefits of signing up for hockey are not just short-term. If your child ends up playing adult hockey – which is where we all end up eventually – that means they’re pursuing a healthy, active lifestyle.
And hopefully they can pass the game on to their kids.
Tag(s): ADM Features