IMG_1936-ZoomIce Hockey, in some minds including my own, is the ultimate in youth sports.   My 8 year old son plays on a team with a few other 1st and 2nd grade kids.  I have the glorious job of assistant to the assistant coach.   My duties include opening and closing the bench door during the games, and helping out on ice during practices.     What separates Ice Hockey from the multitude of other youth sports is what i call the commitment level.   For most programs the economics of ice rentals, and rink operation demand a 8 month long season (September to April).   Compare this with an 8 week soccer or baseball season and you’ll understand what I mean about commitments.

For most games I am the bench helping to get the next set of kids ready for their shift.  Keeping a bench full of 7 and 8 year olds focused and ready is a non trivial task.   This past week I was able to watch a game from the bleachers instead of being on the bench.  I noticed two things right away.  The first was that it was a lot more fun to just watch then to have to be organizing and motivating the kids.   The second item was that my ability to observe the play was greatly enhanced by being at a higher elevation and by not being distracted by other items on the bench.

Although my son’s team won the game (6-2),  my conclusion was that they needed to work on their positional play.   At this level, any team that can play basic positional hockey will most often have a huge advantage.   My son’s team won because they skated harder and applied more pressure.  Neither team played well positionally.  But the more aggressive team usually wins.

Hockey coaches, particularly at higher levels, talk a lot about taking time and space away from the opponent.  Taking these away often leads to a turnover.  The objective is to not allow the other guys OODA loop to function.  It’s not about working at a quicker tempo, it’s about shutting down their ability to do anything.