Steve Penny is not unbiased, but he is also not wrong, when he says in regard to youth gymnastics clubs, “They are the absolute best places in the country to help children learn how to use their bodies and develop their motor skills.”
Penny is the president of USA Gymnastics, and he was in the middle of a long explanation of the benefits of his sport – particularly for youth athletes.
In speaking with him, it became clear: as parents consider starting their kids out in hockey, a complementary parallel track can be found off the ice and inside gyms across the country.
Here are some of the reasons to consider enrolling a 6U or 8U hockey player in gymnastics as well:
Building Fundamental Athleticism
Physical education classes used to offer the building blocks in the development of motor skills, but Penny would argue that’s no longer the case.
Gymnastics clubs and classes have stepped in and filled the void. With USA Gymnastics boasting 90,000 athletes registered in competitive programs, that governing body is training a new breed of athlete.
“It’s not just the typical motor skills of jumping jacks and stretches and things we relied on PE class for,” Penny says. “It’s how to tumble, how to do a somersault, how to do a handstand and headstand. Those are things that are taught at the most fundamental level of recreational gymnastics. You can’t find that anywhere else.”
The Test Case
Penny’s words carry even more credibility when one considers he sees living proof in his house every day. He is the father of 10-year-old triplet daughters, all of whom have been involved in gymnastics since they were 3.
Penny says his daughters are not “on a fast track or quick path to a college scholarship or Olympic team,” but rather “on more of a modest program in terms of what they’re going to get long-term from the sport.”
And still, the benefits of gymnastics as it relates to other sports are undeniable, he says, punctuating that point by rattling off a long list of other activities. Among them:
These aren’t the idle boasts of a proud father. They are real examples from the real world.
Transferable to Hockey
All of those things, of course, are also transferable to hockey. The motor skill development, athleticism and flexibility that are vital on the ice can be developed at young ages on the mat.
Again, referencing his triplets, Penny says, “They have strength, they have confidence and they know how to use their bodies. Those three things are transferrable to every possible sport. My kids have no fear about being on anything. They will do a cartwheel on a balance beam. Why would they be afraid of putting on skates? It really does give you the physical base.”
A basic introductory program doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment, though Penny notes that some kids stick with the training because they are seeing the benefits in other sports.
“We see parents bring kids in all the time. You can start at a very young age – 3, 4, 5 years old,” Penny says. “You make a decision to stay in the sport or not based on how well you’re progressing and other things you’re doing, but at the end of the day, the benefits are going to be there.”
Penny is also quick to note that even though the examples he gave involve his three girls, there are plenty of young boys involved in gymnastics as well.
“It’s not biased one way or another,” he says. “For me, it’s just a great place to start and learn those motor skills that just aren’t taught anywhere else anymore.”
This week’s features: Replacement crests...equipment bags...starting short...and more...
QUESTION: My hockey team's record is 9-4-2 Does this mean 9 wins and 4 losses? What does the "2" mean?
ANSWER: A “typical” team record goes in order of wins-loses-ties. So your team’s record has two ties. However, you might want to confirm this with your coach.
QUESTION: What is the best officials bag? I see a lot of officials with the rolling ones but can’t seem to find the best one.
ANSWER: Bags can be very similar to skates in the sense that there are many different options for many different preferences among officials. Some officials like wheeled bags since they are easy to move from Point A to Point B. However, some officials just prefer to carry their bags. Some officials want traditional “Referee Bags”, and others will search luggage stores for black bags that are designed for travel but work in the locker room too.
Durability seems to be one of the biggest factors that most officials look for. Are the zippers and stitching a good quality? Do the wheels seem rugged, or will they wear out quick? Is there any type of warranty on the bag if a handle or wheel breaks?
The choice is up to you.
QUESTION: At what age does USA Hockey require not just recommend mouth-guards? Does Canada have the same requirements?
ANSWER: Under standard USA Hockey Playing Rules, mouthpieces are required at the “12 & Under” and above (both girls and boys). Therefore, they are not required at 10U hockey.
We cannot comment on Hockey Canada Rules at this forum. However, a quick online search of the HC Rulebook and you should find your answer.
QUESTION: Both teams full strength, one team doesn't put all five skaters on the ice before puck is dropped for a face-off in that team's defensive zone, coach gets his player on the ice after the face-off is done, the puck comes to that player, he skates it in to the offensive zone and scores, does this count?
ANSWER: Rule 629(e) in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states:
“Play shall be stopped and the face-off conducted at the last play face-off location anytime a team starts play with fewer players than entitled to and the additional entering player is the first to play any puck coming from his defending zone, unless he has first made skate contact with his defending zone.”
Therefore, if a team starts play with fewer players than they are entitled to, they may add the additional player immediately and that player is eligible to enter the play with the one restriction listed above.
QUESTION: If i misplaced my card and crest for the season, is there any possible way i could get new ones?
ANSWER: All USA Hockey Officials may purchase an additional or replacement Crest by following the instructions posted below,
Please send a check or money order for Five Dollars ($5.00), Payable to: USA Hockey Officiating Program to:
USA Hockey Inc.
Attn: Helen Fenlon
1775 Bob Johnson Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Please add a letter of request that includes:
- Your USA Hockey Officiating Number
- Your mailing address
- Contact information (email, phone #, etc.)
PLEASE DO NOT SEND CASH. Additionally, there is no online process and we will not accept credit card information. Once we receive your request and replacement fee we will be happy to send you a new Crest.
Download the USA Hockey Mobile Rulebook App to your mobile device from your app store today!