Q. My child is finishing their 8U half-ice season and headed to 10U hockey in the fall. How will the transition to full ice go?
A. This is a great question. There is no doubt that there will be an adjustment period for your child. It will be important to stay patient and try to understand the changes that your player will be experiencing.
First of all, hopefully your child will continue to participate in an ADM program that offers age- appropriate training to your players. Some of these 10U ADM recommendations may be proper off-ice training, station-based practices and small team sizes. This is important because you want to continue to build on the development that your child received while in the 8U program.
The initial transition to station-based practices and small-area games at 10U will be seamless. However, full-ice games will take some adjustment time for your child. Patience on your end will be required. Do not worry about line changes and ‘off-sides.’ The players will pick this up quickly as the season progresses. Initially players may tend to group together and not spread out. This makes sense because so far you player has been encouraged to be around the puck and support the puck during their half-ice experience. Over time, and with good coaching, the players will learn to spread out, play position and use the new space of the ice.
More importantly, as your 10U player trains in station-based practice and small areas, they will acquire skill and hockey IQ at a greater rate than their counterparts who do not train with ADM recommendations. As your child progresses through 10U you will see their comfort continue to increase in handling the puck, skating with the puck, playing in traffic, passing and competing. These skills will outweigh your opponents in time and lead to success on the full-ice sheet.
In the end, be ready for awesome growth of your player and be patient on the adjustment to the full-ice sheet.
Joe Bonnett has more than 20 years of hockey coaching experience, including 18 seasons at the NCAA Division I level. Before entering the college ranks, he was a 12U and 16U coach in Michigan.