Children between the ages of 7 and 9 reside in the first of two optimal windows for development of athletic speed. This first window (known as the Speed 1 Window) is primarily one in which young athletes can develop quickness. Quickness is exemplified by short-burst, multi-directional speed. This is one reason why the cross-ice playing environment is so vitally important for development in the 8U age category. In the cross-ice game, players stop, start and change direction far more often than they do in the full-ice game. At this stage, children benefit exponentially from using key skating skills that promote quickness. So the more of these stops, starts and quick changes of direction we give our kids in this stage, the better it is for their long-term development.
Taking advantage of the Speed 1 Window helps our players develop this core athletic component. Hockey is a sport that places a high value on quickness, especially with our older players. Between the ages of 7 and 9 is the time to take advantage of each child’s natural growth pattern to help them improve their quickness for the long run.