Q: My 10-year-old has been following your advice and playing other sports during the summer. Should I be worried that the child will be behind as we move into a new hockey season?
A: Kids that have been playing hockey year-round will be somewhat in the groove right away. If your child has taken a break, then it will take a few weeks to shake the rust. This is normal. What we find is that the child is especially excited to be back to hockey and usually catches up quickly.
This is why good associations don't hold tryouts or sort players the first day back. They allow for three to four weeks of practice before grouping players. By this time, the players who took an offseason break from hockey and contributed to their overall athletic development have caught up. The real payoff comes in January, when these multi-sport children still have the mental and emotional energy to see the team through and leapfrog the other players.
Remember to remain focused on long-term success. Especially at 10U, it’s really not about who plays the best on Day 1 of the new season. It’s about who develops the most over the long haul.
The author, Ken Martel, coached collegiately at Air Force and Michigan Tech while also helping guide numerous U.S. National Teams. As a player, he skated four seasons at Lake Superior State, winning an NCAA championship in 1988.