Even though I grew up in Buffalo, where winter totally rules, my sport growing up was baseball. Sure I watched the Sabres as a casual fan, but my knowledge of hockey was limited to hating Brett Hull. Google it!
But now, as Chief Technology Officer of PowerPlayer, I’m up to my eyeballs in hockey five days a week. So of course my wife and I thought it would be a good idea to go all the way and sign our six-year-old son up for hockey this year. I’d gotten some understanding of the sport during the process of developing our system with the hockey guys I work with, but I really had no idea what to expect as far as my son’s experience was concerned. Until today.
After a few months of going to the rink on Saturdays and Sundays, I’d begun to get a feel for the routine (and how all the equipment works!), but this morning during practice, my son’s hockey club gave us parents a presentation explaining all of the things the coaches are doing with our kids out there on the ice.
The methodology is USA Hockey’s American Development Model, or ADM.
They explained how kids learning the game using full-ice style games rarely touch the puck, and that in those scenarios the really little ones spend most of their time just trying to skate from one end to the other. That’s not a whole lot of fun, and hockey is supposed to be fun. To make that concept crystal clear, they showed us a pretty humorous video that featured adults trying to play hockey on oversized ice.
They went on to explain why they break the rink up into five or six sections and have the kids do a variety of exercises and drills such as playing freeze tag, skating obstacle courses, and my favorite, chariot races, where the kids take turns pulling each other around using two sticks. Simply put, the ADM is predicated on the idea that for young kids, fun contributes to the development of skating and puck skills. My son’s steady improvement coupled with the giant smile on his face when he gets off the ice confirms it’s the way to go.
So I left the rink today with a big smile on my face, too. I’m learning how to be a hockey parent from the ice up, so understanding the thinking and research that went into the ADM—and knowing that my son’s coaches and their hockey director are excited about it—made me feel even better about his adventures out there where I’ve never been. And it also made me even more confident in the future of PowerPlayer, because from this baseball guy’s side of the glass at least, the more information, feedback and understanding about my son’s progress in hockey I can get, the better.
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