Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Are You Pushing Your Young Hockey Player too Hard?

Attention Parents: Youth Hockey is for Kids.

      Did that get your attention? You have to admit sometimes we do lose our focus with thoughts of championships, full-ride academic scholarships and a shot at the pros swirling in our heads. So we sign our kids up for all kinds of summer camps and instructional programs to get them better, stronger and faster for next season. Heck, if your kid’s got talent, why not do all you can to nurture the next Patrick Kane or Angela Ruggiero? So we push. While not all pushing is bad, parents need to be mindful of pushing too hard, too young says 22- year hockey veteran, Chris Costa, owner and operator of Philadelphia based Assist Performance.
   Costa’s opinion is backed by statistics that show young athletes who are subjected to extreme specialization tend to drop out by the age of 13. 13? How sad is that? Costa joins a growing number in hockey circles who believes too much pressure on younger kids is resulting in kids sidelining themselves and missing out on benefits like confidence, camaraderie and a healthy lifestyle.  “Kids have to want to be hockey players. A parent can’t want it more than they do. It’s just not fair to the child.”
    While parents may have the best of intentions, they may not realize they’re taking away the fun factor when they make winning and recognition the focus. “I can think of one misconception for the younger player is that they must play AAA hockey to become better. That’s just not true, even for some Bantam-aged players. Skill development comes from time on the ice and stick in the hand. The more focus that is shifted towards that, direct in culmination with better coaching, will result in higher skill development. Pushing your kid really doesn't make him/her like the game any more. They have to develop their own passion for the game,” says Costa.
   Rather than being the pushy parent, Costa says be the encouraging mom or dad. “Encourage your child’s desires. If they want to be a faster skater, then get them on the ice more often, hire a strength coach or power skating coach. Skill development can also happen in your driveway. It’s the repetition of practice that will develop instinctual talent, drive, consistency and focus."
   While you’ll want to avoid projecting your own achievement needs onto your child, a gentle parental nudge with a proactive focus can be a plus, “Take every opportunity to teach through example, so your child will understand that good things come with hard work,” says Costa
       And Costa shares a simple formula that may help keep sports in perspective. “Effort creates results. Passion facilitates that effort.”
    There’s nothing wrong with wanting to give our children an advantage, but let’s be smart about how we go about reaching their goals. Let’s celebrate their improvements and accomplishments, win or lose.

Christopher Costa owns and operates Assist Performance, based in Philadelphia, Pa. aP takes strength & conditioning to the next level, and specializes in ice hockey and golf. He previously interned with the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2013-2014 season. Chris is slated to spend some time this summer under the New York Islanders organization.
Twenty-two years of ice hockey experience has allowed Chris to develop the talent, necessary education, and a forward thinking process that is sure to enhance athletic potential. If you or your child are interested in NCAA Division 1, Tier 1 Junior A, Major Junior, or simply strive to be the best in your league, please visit

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