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8U at Home: Activities & Challenges for Young Hockey Families

05/12/2020, 5:00pm MDT
By Michael Rand

If the lives of youth hockey players and parents used to be all about “go, go, go” and figuring out how to pump the brakes from time to time, the current situation is the complete opposite.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of families suddenly have a lot more time – but also a lot more challenges when it comes to helping kids burn off energy and stay active while other options seem limited.

So this month, I surveyed several USA Hockey American Development Model regional managers for recommendations on everything from stay-at-home activities to dealing with the mental and emotional challenges of suddenly being temporarily without hockey or any other organized sports.

If you’re the parent of an 8U player, here are some specific things to consider and try:

Keep Them Moving

This is the age group that might be bouncing off the walls the most with the sudden drop-off in organized activity.

Luckily, this is also the group that is probably easiest to please when it comes to alternative ways to stay active. Pretty much anything will suffice as long as you’re willing to provide a little space and have some creativity.

“Anything that involves physical literacy,” is the recommendation from Kenny Rausch, USA Hockey’s Youth Ice Hockey Director. “Keep them active and try to get them to try new things such as somersaults and cartwheels. Don’t be afraid to create obstacle courses, either. Kids love American Ninja Warrior!”

USA Hockey also has many resources available in the Age-Specific Dryland Training Materials section of its website. Set up a Hop Scotch course or try the Card Catchers game.

Be Nontraditional

You should also give yourself some grace. Think of the shift to staying active at home in the same vein as the sudden change to virtual learning – much of which is being aided and guided by parents.

You shouldn’t be trying to replicate everything a teacher does and you also can’t be expected to simulate the exact athletic experience your kids would otherwise be having.

“Parents shouldn’t think that this time at the younger ages should be spent training,” in the traditional sense, said ADM regional manager Bob Mancini, who emphasizes that playing any game is beneficial. “Have fun. Play one-on-one floor hockey. Pass a ball back and forth. Get outside, throw a football, shoot baskets, ride a bike – whatever it is that you are allowed to do and keep your social distancing and the CDC guidelines, do.”

Hop Catch and Leap Frog are fun games you can play together as a family. You might not be able to go to a rock-climbing wall right now, but Rock Climbing at home is great for the core and back.

Really, it’s all about doing your best with whatever time and resources you have. You might be surprised at how much fun it can be.

“Teach animal movements,” Rausch said. “Bear crawls and crab walks.”

More Resources

Jeremy Frisch from the Achieve Performance Gym has several good videos posted on Twitter that can serve as good guidelines for things you can do, Rausch said.

Indeed, a quick browse found a fun “rainy day” video with basic movements that stress strength and agility that could easily be done between two siblings. Click here to check it out. 

Or how about a simple game of tag?

Good luck, and who knows? Maybe even after things nudge back closer to normal, you’ll want to keep doing a lot of these things.

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Tag(s): ADM Features