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Author Topic: Hard time staying on his feet  (Read 521 times)

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Hard time staying on his feet
Topic: October 20, 2020, 09:38:01 PM
Hi yall,

Got a quick question, my son is 8 years old and loves playing hockey. He has been skating since I could get him into Learn to Skate, about 4 years old. He is a very aggressive skater, no fear, and has great strength and power in his legs. However he is still falling much more frequently than most of the other players....

He is still one of the better players on the team since he is bigger and more athletic than most. I get him as much ice time as I can, he plays all year round....skates 5 days a week. He loves to play and has dreams of playing in the NHL. I would just love to see him playing hockey throughout his childhood, being a part of a team, and learning the life lessons that organized sports provides.

I know he is still young, but my fear is that he may be missing some skating/balance talent that will eventually catch up to him. I never played hockey as a kid and can barely ice skate so I can't really relate.

My question is, am I worrying about this too soon or is this a bad sign? Is there anything I can do to help him?

Thanks
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Reply #1:
 October 21, 2020, 12:20:05 AM
Get his skates sharpened and make sure they’re level!
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Reply #2:
 October 21, 2020, 12:22:04 AM
It will absolutely catch up with him. You can only teach skating skills until about 13 years old. After that, it's very, very difficult to learn new skating skills. You can do it, but it takes way more time and effort that most people don't have, not even college players trying to make it to NHL. Between ages 9-13 is a prime window to teach all the finer skills, skating, stick handling.

Find a figure skating coach and take at least one private or semi-private lesson a week, with two more ice sessions devoted only to practicing what he learned with the coach that week.

Skating fast forward is easy, any kid can do that and kids who are smaller now will someday catch up to bigger, "athletic" kids, so having size and strength as an 8yo is meaningless at 18 when everyone has size and strength, or when the bigger kids who stop growing at 16 get outpaced by kids who are still growing at 18.

If he hasn't gone through all six levels of Learn To Skate, do that first, even the jumping and spinning. Then, find a figure skating coach and work on turning on one foot on left and right, forward and backwards. Work on edges, and turns like mohawks, choctaws, brackets. Work on skating backwards. You kid should be able to do everything he does forward, backwards and with the same speed and precision and on each foot before bantam.

At this age, at least 50% of his time should be spent just on skating skills and 50% on stick skills. If money is an issue, play only rec and put your money into skating lessons instead of travel fees. In Russian pro league schools, the kids spend two years on skating skills before being allowed to pick up a stick.

Again, by 13, it's too late to learn skating skills. Get a good figure skating coach. It's not too soon to start becoming a proficient skater. In five years, it will be too late.

Also, make sure his skates fit well. I'd also go for a doctor's visit to make sure there is nothing going on with ankles/knees/posture. If a kid is overcompensating for something like a turned-in ankle, it's going to be an uphill battle unless it's fixed with physical therapy or skate inserts.
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Reply #3:
 October 21, 2020, 07:25:27 AM
Stop with the constant ice time for hockey and let the kid be a kid. You say he loves the game but i bet he's burned out and doesn't care about it all by 13. Most of the kids playing have dreams of being in the NHL and let him dream, the percentages tell you its just that a dream. Let him fall all over the place I've seen countless numbers of kids at that age and up to 10 who did exactly that and wound up playing AA and AAA later. If hes still falling all over by 12 take him to a figure skating instructor where all he will do is work on balance, no hockey, no pucks or shooting just skating. If you are deciding his future I guarantee he will hate playing by his teens and he wont care about how he plays at all.
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Reply #4:
 October 21, 2020, 08:59:45 AM
How can you possibly say that at age 13 you wont learn how to get better as a skater?? That is clearly one of the dumbest posts I have seen on here. For what seems to be a well thought out post, to say you cant get better at skating past 13 just astounds me.
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Reply #5:
 October 21, 2020, 12:54:54 PM
"How can you possibly say that at age 13 you wont learn how to get better as a skater??"

Easy. It's backed up by tons of research from Skate Canada and the Team Canada, as well as ADM. The window of optimal trainability for boys for skill training -- things like skating skills and stick handling -- is between 9 and 12 years old, so I'm being generous by stretching it to 13 or even 14. It's true in soccer, in skating, in gymnastics, in baseball. Pick a sport.

Can you pick up new skills after 13? Sure. Will it take more work and more hours. Yes. Will those skills ever be as fine-tunable at 18 or 24 or 30. Possible, but doubtful. 

By age 13-16, boys in the window of trainability for speed and power. It makes sense. Their muscles are growing, lungs are getting bigger. There are other windows of trainability for stamina and strentgth, as well.

Again, can you add or improve. Sure. But it's going to take more and more time and effort with more varying results.

This is why cross-training and being a multi sport athlete is so important for kids. Different sports and different kinds of sports hit the "sweet spot" for each window of trainability without making it a chore by going to the gym or doing a billion add-on clinics.

For example, with skating, learning to do fine-tuned one-foot turns -- a real advantage when changing direction and using edges to build speed in tight corners -- is something kids pick up easily as young teens IF they've had a good base in skating instruction all along (and that's NOT just skating forward fast, if you want to do that, just take up speed skating). But try teaching that skill to a 16 year old who doesn't have good one-foot edge control, looks down a lot while skating, can't skate backwards strongly, turns like a battleship instead of a jetski (most kids in this area AA and below) and it's going to be a lot harder. Try teaching that skill to a 20 year old with marginal skills, and it's going to take a year or so of dedicated training to learn.

Again, you want a kid who can just skate forward fast? Sure, I can do that, and I started skating at 40. But the kind of fine-tuned skills that kids from countries like Sweden, Canada, Russia or places like Minnesota and Michigan have -- places where kids are born on skates and bring hockey skates to recess? In PA, you need to work at that, and yes, the 9-13yo window is your best bet. And for intents and purposes of "I live in PA and want to skate in the NHL" trying to learn strong edges, turns and fine-tuned skating skills to build upon as later teen, the deadline is 13. If you hear of someone who made it to the NHL and just started purposeful skating training, not power skating, but skating skills training, at 14 or 15yo, that person is an outlier among outliers. It's not the safe bet and I'd encourage that person to just enjoy the sport and pick a beer league team to have fun with.

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Reply #6:
 October 21, 2020, 01:25:01 PM
From Laura Stamm, the guru.

https://www.laurastamm.net/Training-Different-Age-Groups.aspx

Note:

"Between the ages of ten to twelve (pre-pubescence) there is great improvement in coordination, motor skills, and decision-making capabilities. For children who choose to participate in hockey, skating skills now must be strongly emphasized. Skating techniques should be emphasized and built upon in the ensuing years."

IOW, if you don't have a strong, base in skating (again NOT just skating fast, but proficiently, securely and with head up), adding on all the other components a young player needs -- train to compete and train to win in the ADM model -- means working on new skills while trying to remediate skills that should be fairly solid. When the growth spurt hits for boys at age 14-15, things start to "fall apart" 'a bit, so it's even more necessary that that strong, STRONG base of skills in set in stone by 13 to rely on and build power and speed upon later.

Again, can it be done, later? Sure, but now you're back pedaling, trying to secure skating skills when players are supposed to be working on fine-tuning competition skills and putting hockey IQ to work. That can't happen if a kid is still looking down to see where his feet are or is taking 1 second to turn instead of .005 seconds. 

This is from Team Canada

https://athletics.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/LTAD_EN.pdf
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Reply #7:
 October 21, 2020, 01:40:42 PM
Last one, and I'll stop spamming with skater development information. Team Canada Long Term Athlete Development model:

https://cdn.hockeycanada.ca/hockey-canada/Hockey-Programs/Coaching/LTPD/Downloads/LTPD_manual_may_2013_e.pdf

"Learn To Play – Male 9-10, Female 8-9 LOCAL/PROVINCIAL
This stage is the beginning of the most important window to develop the fine motor skills on an individual technical skill basis that leads to utilizing these skills into individual and team tactics later on. During this phase, prior to the beginning of the growth spurt, players have the best opportunity to learn and begin to master fine motor skills that can be used in combination with other skills. In most cases what is learned or not learned in this stage will have a very significant effect on the level of play that is achieved later on. Players should be able to begin to transfer skills and concepts from practices to games."

"Learn To Train – Male 11-12, Female 10-11 LOCAL/PROVINCIAL
This is the most significant period for development. This is the window of accelerated adaptation to motor coordination. Group interaction, team building and social activities should be emphasized. A reasonable balance of practices and games will foster the ongoing development and mastery of essential skills in hockey."
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