Q: What are the Windows of Trainability for 10U players and why are they so important?
A: The 10U player is in the “Golden Age of Skill Development.” What this means is that physically, cognitively, emotionally and mentally, athletes at this age are most receptive to building the base of skills that will set the stage for long-term success in hockey. This also means that coaches who are working with this age group should be laser-focused on skill development and utilizing a practice-to-game ratio of three practices for every one game.
This stage in a young child’s development as a hockey player is critical. Unfortunately, for too many 10U players, the instructional focus shifts from individual skill development, practice and training, to team play, positioning and playing a large number of games. This type of misguided focus limits a young player’s ultimate athletic potential.
The most efficient skill development happens in practice, where puck touches and repetitions are plentiful. This is where 10U players refine their basic passing, shooting, stickhandling, skating and decision-making skills. Limiting that active practice time, or trading it for games in which puck time is far scarcer, can have a negative effect on the athlete’s long-term success.
That’s why understanding age-specific training methods, along with the principles and philosophy of USA Hockey’s American Development Model, is extremely important for coaches and parents alike.