How To Get More Kids Involved In Youth Hockey?

Discussion of Minnesota Youth Hockey

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How To Get More Kids Involved In Youth Hockey?

Post by SLP/SW Coach » Wed Oct 11, 2006 10:26 am

There has been some talk on a couple of other threads involving the declining number in youth hockey. This has especially occured in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. This is a thread dedicated to talking about ideas and ways to get more youth involved in hockey. Not just in the city but also in the burbs as well as "out-state." I don't think numbers have dwindled as drastically in the Northern half of MN, as they have in the immediate metro and Southern MN.


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Post by SLP/SW Coach » Wed Oct 11, 2006 10:30 am

The below were written in another thread, just thought I would transfer them to this discussion topic...............................

Johnsonpres Wrote:
In St. Paul we have 3 organizations left (Johnson, Highland & Como) in Mpls which is a larger city we have(SLP/SW, Washburn) what can we do to get kids involved we can't just keep combining organizations.
BlueLiner Wrote:
I agree that you cannot just combine areas, this practice is only a bandaid for the problem of low numbers. This is something we have been fighting for years, and seem to be losing the battle. Not only are the youth association numbers falling, look what has happened to the St. Paul and Mpls City Conferences, which is very sad.

I certainley do not know what we do to get more kids involved. There was going to be a committe of some long time area gentlemen formed to try and come up with some ideas, I have not heard anymore about this committee? Sorry for getting off track, but the lack of numbers in D1 is a serious problem. I can remember when there were 10 to 12 teams between St. Paul and Mpls at each level in the district which was fun for everyone involved.

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Fresh start

Post by Pucknutz69 » Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:06 pm

Hastings has it set up so kids in Mini-mites and mites get free use of equipment. Helmet, skates, shoulder pads, shin pads and breezers. It keeps the cost down and gets them hooked. get a sporting goods store to buy the end of the year surplus from manufactures.

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More kids involved...

Post by Cornermukker » Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:37 pm

Maybe the season is too long for them. It seems to me that in the metro that the majority have already started, had tryouts and are ready to go. Are they even done with football? If the season started for them late in September, that would equate to an approximately 6 month season. This does not detour the kids who really want to play, but it may be the reason that more do not. ( Or detour the parents)

Just a thought.

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Post by State Champ 97 » Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:51 pm

Numbers are dropping everywhere in the cities and out state.

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Post by breakout » Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:56 pm

I don't know if it is the length of the season. I have a first year mite and a squirt. I keep hearing from my friends that cost and inconsistent scheduling keeps their kids away from the sport.

It also seems like people feel that they have to do the off season AAA teams and training to keep up. That may keep kids away from the sport as well.

I do like the Hastings model. Other associations should look at that model.

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starting out

Post by hockeymom6t9 » Wed Oct 11, 2006 2:28 pm

The season isn't all that long. My son hasn't even finished tryouts yet, they just started the other day.

Its my understanding that White Bear Lake was done weeks ago. How do you keep numbers up? It might just be a way of life. Duffus is from Roseau, they don't have great numbers, but they always show up to play.

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Post by goldy313 » Wed Oct 11, 2006 2:54 pm

For the first time ever the number of kids playing youth football (grades 4-8 not counting Lourdes kids) has surpassed the number of kids playing hockey (ages 4-15 all schools) in Rochester. The number of kids playing football has grown but slowly, the numbers of kids playing hockey is dropping.

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Post by packerboy » Thu Oct 12, 2006 8:52 am

All sports have the same issues as far as off season demands and elitism and the never ending season.

Hockey causes kids to drop other sports. So does basketball and volleyball.

If you want to be a part of a good high school football program, you better take part in the summer workouts.

The 3 sport athelete finds himself involved in sports all year round but the probem is its all 3 of them.

Hockey however is by far the most expensive. I think that is the main reason for limited numbers. Families in many areas cant afford it.

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Post by RLStars » Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:19 am

Packerboy wrote:
Hockey however is by far the most expensive. I think that is the main reason for limited numbers. Families in many areas cant afford it.
Couldn't agree more. Hockey also seems to be the one sport that the athlete needs to train nearly year round too compete at a high level. Cross training is very limited, since most of hockey revolves around skating and that needs to be done on the ice. Yes, you can do plyos and treadmills and ramps, oh my, but its not the same as ice. Running and dribbling in the driveway is the same as the court.

You can shoot a 1000 pucks a day in the driveway and develope a cannon for a shot, but put skates on and get on the ice and now balance and weight transfer is a little different. Shooting hoops in the driveway is the same as shooting on the court. This is where the "expense" comes into play.

Kids are dropping out because they (player and parents) see other kids that are doing the extras and excelling. The talk with parents and find out how much the extras cost and steer little Johnny or Janie to basketball, volleyball, wrestling etc. The local association hockey is expensive enough, but when you add in the extra camps and summer team fees, we're talking very expensive. In hindsight, if I had invested all the money I spent on hockey (two in gymnastics also) for my kids, I'm pretty sure I could have financed their Masters degrees. :shock:

I highly doubt that there is a single D3 player that only laced up the skates during the hockey season from mites to High School, with no extra camps along the way. how many D3 basketball players are there that only played during the season, with extra pick up games that cost nothing to attend?

A co-worker of mine has a son who is a senior and plays football and basketball. He is finally getting some Varsity playing time on the d-line. He has been visiting some D3 colleges around the state and nearly all of the football coaches are telling him that they would want him to play for them. He has never taking a single skills camp outside of what his High School has offered over the summer.

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Post by Hobey Faker » Thu Oct 12, 2006 10:18 am

if cost is the main factor in declining numbers; I think one thing that
might help is for Associations to set up a program that utilizes used
equipment for hardship cases and entry level players.
I personaly have givin away all my kids equipment that they don't
use any longer. this at times seems to be a chore finding someone
to take advantage of. Both of my kids have played all year for many years and from this we acumulate excess gear.
I think associations could do a much better job of collecting and making
it known that there is a place to get equipment cheap or free.
I hear alot about declining numbers and cost from people; but I don't
here enough about donation programs that are organised to help recruit
more players. if there is such a program where I could send out grown
pads, sticks, jersey's exc. please let me know so I can posibly help
a kid get on the ice. I will ship to anywhere in the state.

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Post by hockeyfan92621 » Thu Oct 12, 2006 10:18 am

Our "out state" association's numbers have dwindled over the last 15 years. What they offer now to try to encourage joining is offering the first season free if they child is under 12 years old.
This has helped, but definately hasn't taken care of the low numbers.

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Post by elliott70 » Thu Oct 12, 2006 11:00 am

I think this is the number one issue MN Hockey needs to address.

Recruitment then retention.

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Player numbers

Post by Cornermukker » Thu Oct 12, 2006 1:28 pm

I would agree with Elliott. I will say that where I am at we have stayed at a flat number of skaters the last 4 years. We had around 240 -250 for years and tried to recruit via Ice Mite Equipment program and other things and it brought our numbers up to apprx 350 skaters. That is from Ice Mite to Jr. Gold and girls. We have been at this number since 2002.

Cost is a part, and will still be a part because the almighty dollar does not go as far this year as last. I do not know if it is the cost of camps, cost of registrations or the travel. Travel would lead me to believe that it is a major part of it. Especially in the D15, D16 area. In D15 at the PeeWee A level we have one away game within an hour. The rest are 1 1/2 up to 2 1/4 hours away. That gets costly as well.

Just opinion..

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Post by goldy313 » Thu Oct 12, 2006 2:49 pm

Nearly all of the public school kids that have gone D1 out of Rochester were multi-sport athletes, some maybe skated once a week during the off season.

Kevin Colgan- Colorado College, an excellent Tennis player
Matt Leimbeck- Minnesota, great baseball player
Doug Zmolek- Minnesota, a better QB than hockey player
Scott Thauwald-Colorado College, a good split end, played a little d-back too

Sioux Fan can go on with many more Mayo kids that were multi sport athletes in high school and went on to play D1 hockey. Skating while important isn't the only thing, hand eye coordination, vision, etc. all can be gained and even improved upon by playing other sports. Way too many hockey players are good enough skaters but can't see the ocean from the beach because they never bothered chasing a fly ball, returning a tennis serve, or learning how to read a key. Too many just pick golf where you have your head down and hit a ball, no skill in relation to hockey.

The notion that you have to specialize is killing the sport while lining the pockets of those who run camps.

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Post by packerboy » Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:54 am

Well said goldy.

People have been brain washed.

Athleticism is the key .The more different sports you play, the more athletic you will be.

In my opinion, specialization has limited the athleticism of the participants in all sports.

I saw a certain outstanding dback ,who will remain nameless, pick up a fumble in a footall game on a short hop and return it a couple of yards the other day.

There is no way, I mean no way, he makes that play if his wonderful father hadnt hit him about a 1,000 ground balls every summer.

But his football coaches would prefer he be at summer football work outs running thru tires. :lol:

Talk about not being able to see the ocean from the beach.

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Post by hockeymom6Z9 » Tue Oct 17, 2006 10:12 am

There needs to be a cultural exchange if we are talking the urban area. How many ethnical kids to you have?????

My kids have played with all sorts of different raced kids in other sports, but they come to hockey and its almost all still white. If the kids got into the sport early, most programs are low cost and help fund the equipment.

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Post by gopher25 » Tue Oct 17, 2006 10:21 am

In my opinion I think the biggest problem is that parents goals for their child are way out of whack! How many kids actually get to play D1 sports? However, when I am coaching all I hear is that if this kid is going to get a scholarship they need to be doing this, or they need to be skating 5 days a week for 52 weeks a year. My question to parents is that if you goal is for your kid to get a scholarship then why not make your kid study half as much and apply to a school of thier choice. My guess is if they spent that much time studying they would get an academic scholarship.

Parents are the problem here, not the kids. Too many parents get too competitive about what other peoples children are doing and sometimes abandon their own values and get caught up in the madness of it all. The best athletes I have ever played with and coached all played multiple sports and they were the ones that got the scholarships. It also shows coaches that they can mulitask in may situations.

The best reason kids should play sports is that it teaches many important values such as teambuilding, competitiveness, goal setting..ect. If they are exceptional and are able to obtain a scholarship, then great. However, I would like to see parents spend more time worrying about their childrens grades than what line they are on for their peewee hockey team.

In turn hockey would not be so expensive if they weren't trying to play the sport year round. Might be more affordable for some families.

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Post by elliott70 » Tue Oct 17, 2006 10:34 am

I do not think it is the multi-sport/one-sport issue that keeps numbers down (at least not entirely).

To some extent a 5 year-old will decide if he/she wants to play hockey, but for most the parents will push one way or the other.

For the parents (and I spend a lot of time at events where young parents are) I think it is a matter of 1 money and 2 time committment (off-season does come into this argument).

I think MN Hockey with the help of people like Goldy, Pboy and others needs to
1 develop the reasons people do not direct their kids into hockey
2 develop the reason people do " " " " " " "
3 develop arguments around #1
4 develop ideas to promote #2

5 develop (with professionals) methods to bring this method to the MN public with kids in that target area
6 bring the message forward - buy & use the programs developed
7 make these programs available to local associations for their use.

8 monitor and rework the program annually.

The old ad program was great, funny etc...
but not aimed at the right groups or with the right messages

Posters in arenas.... Ads on Wild radio games....

"Mrs. Johnson, your baby is ah, ah, ah goalie!" Funny yes, effective, no.

If there are 100 boys in K or grade 1 and you attract 15 to hockey, you may get the 15 best athletes. But if you attract 30 to hockey, you have doubled the odds of getting the best athletes.

Roseau, very small town, very successful youth and HS program. Why?
Lots of reasons, but first, what do the boys (and now the girls) want? They want to be hockey players, so a high percentage of the kids start as hockey players.

The problem in some programs - as a Dad, what do I want?
I want my kid to play HS hockey, so what do I want?
About 7 or 8 of classmates playing hockey.

Plan for a good program:
1 Recruit a large number to get the good athletes.
2 Teach them to skate by using good skating instructors.
3 Get them on the outdoor ice to learn to love skating and hockey.
4 Teach them and teach them individual skills at a young age.
5 Off-ice - teach them the rules of the game in a fun atmosphere.
6 Teach them team concepts at teh appropriate age (determined by their mastery o the above items.

And this of ocurse means
numbers, ice time, off-ice development, quality teachers (coaches with skill as their goal and winning measured in other methods than goals scored), upper level coaches that inspire with passion to WIN, and
administers that set the parameters for this to happen without a my kid comes first agenda.

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Post by packerboy » Tue Oct 17, 2006 10:43 am

Well said gopher 25 and I agree but there are other culprits besides the parents.

High school coaches in all sports,not just hockey,expect their kids to participate in organized off season activities related to their sports.

If certain kids arent on the list of participants,their playing time once the seaon starts may be limited.

So, the summer is football workouts,baseball summer team, and, of course,the glorious hockey drills on ice in an arena on an 80 degree summer evening.

Summer job to earn some cash and to learn some valuable life lesson?Yah right.

Its nuts. But thats the way it is so kids are forced to specialise or have a schedule that would cause a high powered business executive to have a heart attack.

Some kids fele thay have to choose between baseball or other things and hockey just to make varsity, let alone a college scholarship.

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Post by tunavichy » Wed Oct 18, 2006 8:24 am

Have the new rules gone to far? I just got off the phone with a friend from White Bear where they had there District 2 meeting last night. The head Referee was telling everyone that he did a A Bantam game the othe day and that he called 51 total penaltieis and that he should have called more.
Common sense tells me that with in two years Minnesota hockey is going to take the game we have always loved and turn it into sort of a ringette format. A couple of years ago I heard on the radio garage logic that Johnson was hosting a Friendship tournament anthat the winner of the tournament was the team with the least penalties. Is this where we are headed? Just a few thoughts! Is this another way of making the bigger associations with better players leave the small associations in the dust. All this is going to create is an atmosphere where the strong teams and areas are going to smoke less talented areas. What does Hill-Murray practice every day? The POWER PLAY. The good players are going to be on the ice every power play. Not so talented SIT DOWN!!!!!!!

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Post by TyrellFashizo » Fri Oct 27, 2006 2:49 pm

How to get more kids involved:

Don't play as many games

Don't have as many practices

Respect officals, coaches, players and fans

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Post by Johnsonpres » Fri Oct 27, 2006 3:07 pm

On one hand people say you have to practice more and less games, some say don't skate as often as you use to, play small games.
Years ago we had teams that played 70 games a year, you had to get better. Now if you have three really good players the rest of the team try to catch up while the three players don't get any better cause the players skating with them don't push them hard enough. More kid need to get involved at a playground or rec center and develop skills and when they feel the need try out for a travel team. This was easy in the past because you coul take kids to the playground drop them off and they would stay all day, now you can't take your eyes off them for they might disappear.

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Post by sodbuster » Fri Nov 03, 2006 8:36 am

Hockey is pricing itself out of business. It is not uncommon to spent $1500 to $2000 just for fees that is not including rooms out of town, meals, gas and other fun things.

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Post by hockeygod » Wed Nov 15, 2006 1:49 pm

Herb Brooks had said that you have to expand the base of the pyramid, so often our time and our best coaching is spent on the elete player at the top of the pyramid while the kids that can really use the help are grouped togeather so teams become the star players and the others. The Stars get the Star treatment and the others get whats left. If you want to recruit and keep alot of players, make hockey fun for the kids and they will come play, what fun is it for a kid to sit on the bench until a game is no longer in doubt, we have to make sure that everybody plays and enjoys the game. When i was a kid we played outside, but we all played and it was fun, now a game gets tight and the coaches shorten the bench and don't relize they just dropped some of the people who will play next year.....the out come of the games will be forgotten but the feeling of being benched will live on in those kids and they won't want to play again in the following years

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