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TAKE 5 with USA Hockey’s Kenny Rausch

05/13/2014, 5:45am MDT
By USAHockey.com

Youth sports provide a great avenue for your kids to build self-esteem and learn invaluable life lessons.  

They also provide an opportunity for parents and coaches to teach the importance of good sportsmanship to youth athletes. Our kids look to their role models for guidance, and when adults and athletes have a win-at-all-costs mentality, it can tarnish the game and bring out the worst in everyone. Good sportsmanship really does matter. 

Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports sat down with USA Hockey Manager of Youth Hockey Kenny Rausch to get his thoughts on the importance of good sportsmanship.

In our exclusive TAKE 5 interview, Kenny admitted that he “sometimes wonders” about the current state of sportsmanship in hockey– although he sees it as a positive “for the most part.”

“Most parents, players and coaches practice good sportsmanship, but the few who don’t are the ones who seem to be the loudest and generate news,” said Kenny. “There is no place in youth sports for bad sportsmanship and poor behavior at a youth sporting event.”

Kenny also recalled an inspiring example of good sportsmanship that came from a Maine player during warmup skate prior to the NCAA National Championship Game during his senior year as a student-athlete at Boston University. He told us he “will never forget that gesture.” Read his full Q&A for the story.  

As a longtime coach himself, Kenny understands the impact and influence coaches can have on good sportsmanship among youth athletes.

“Coaches can make sure that they set the example of good sportsmanship,” said Kenny. “They need to act appropriately and to realize that this is just a game, and use it to teach life lessons. Coaches should meet with players and parents to stress what appropriate behavior both on and off the ice is like.”

Kenny also believes that youth athletes themselves can do a lot to improve the state of sportsmanship in hockey, where “everyone out there is trying their best.”

“The number one thing that athletes can do to improve sportsmanship in hockey is to look in the mirror and realize that they aren’t perfect, and have never played a perfect game,” said Kenny.

To read the full TAKE 5 interview with Kenny, visit ResponsibleSports.com. And come back next month for another exclusive TAKE 5 interview!

At Liberty Mutual Insurance, we constantly look for ways to celebrate the countless acts of responsibility shown by people every day. We created Responsible Sports, powered by Positive Coaching Alliance, as part of this belief to help ensure that our kids experience the best that sports have to offer in environments that promote and display responsibility. We believe kids can learn valuable life lessons when coaches and parents come together to support winning on and off the ice.

Join the Responsible Sports movement!

©2014 Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Positive Coaching Alliance. All rights reserved. This material may not be distributed without express written permission. Any reproduction in whole or part by and individuals or organizations will be held liable for copyright infringement to the full extent of the law.

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TRENDING: Right-Sized Youth Sports

09/01/2015, 9:15am MDT
By USA Hockey

Sept. 1, 2015 | More than 40,000 spectators, plus a national television audience, watched the Little League World Series this past Sunday on a glorious afternoon in Pennsylvania. There were smiles, cheers, entertainment and the noticeable absence of demand for those 12- and 13-year-olds to pitch from 60 feet, six inches or run 90 feet between the bases like their professional baseball heroes.

Right-sized baseball and softball fields, along with age-appropriate rule modifications, have been accepted wisdom in youth baseball for more than 50 years.

Coincidentally, while Little League was paring to its finalists, U.S. Soccer announced a nationwide initiative to improve youth skill development. The centerpiece was a shift to small-sided game formats and field sizes to be phased in across the country by August 2017. As part of the new plan, American soccer at U6, U7 and U8 will be played 4v4 on a pitch approximately one-eighth the size of an adult soccer field. Nine- and 10-year-olds will play 7v7 on a one-quarter-scale pitch. Not until age 13 will players begin competing 11v11 on a regulation adult-sized pitch.

“Our number one goal is to improve our players down the road, and these initiatives will help us do that,” said Tab Ramos, U.S. Soccer’s youth technical director. “In general, we would like for players to be able to process information faster, and when they are in this (new) environment, they are going to learn to do that. Fast forward 10 years, and there are thousands of game situations added to a player’s development.”

With this change, American soccer will join sports like baseball, basketball, hockey and tennis, all of which have embraced the skill-development benefits of age-appropriate playing dimensions and competition formats (see chart below).

Those benefits are at the core of USA Hockey’s American Development Model, which was recently praised by the Sports Business Journal as a “trailblazing program.”

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