When I was growing up in Rochester, Minn., we had six outdoor community rinks within two miles of my house. Depending on the weather conditions, we would play various types of games. Even as a little guy, I was always honored if the big kids let me play, but that usually meant I was the goalie.
We seem to have lost some of that freewheeling fun with today’s overly-structured environment.
That’s why the American Development Model is so important.
Too often, kids show up at the rink and are immediately told what to do and how to do it. Such a structured environment is like throwing a wet blanket over the creativity of our players.
Kids are already overly stimulated enough with all the things going on in their lives away from the rink. Once they step onto the ice, that is their time to have fun.
Here are a few games that will help kids develop their skills while having a lot of fun.
Purpose: This fun game works on the ABCs (Agility, Balance, Coordination and Speed) of physical literacy, in addition to body contact, on-ice awareness and change of direction.
Set Up: Block off a section of the ice with dividers, then place several small dividers or other barriers such as cones or tires in the middle to create an oval.
Game: When the coach says “Go,” these little race cars start skating clockwise around the track against other skaters, making sure to keep their heads up to avoid crashing.
Switch things up and have them race counter clockwise.
Tire Push Game
Purpose: This fun game works on skating stride, knee bend, keeping your head up, communication and competitiveness.
Set Up: Players split into two teams and line up at opposite ends of the zone. Each team starts with a tire. A coach stands in middle with an extra tire or two.
Game: On the signal, two players from each team turn their sticks over and push the tire toward the opposite end of the zone. One “defender” from each side skates out to meet them and provide resistance. Teams score a point when they push their tire to the opposite end of the zone. When a goal is scored, coach drops the tire back at center ice.
Purpose: Promotes the ABCs (Agility, Balance, Coordination and Speed) of physical literacy, along with having a lot of fun.
Set Up: Create an obstacle course in your section of the ice during a station-based practice. You can get as detailed or as basic as you want, depending on the types of obstacles you have available.
Game: I like to use a couple of small dividers to create a starting gate and have the kids go racing out of the gate. Along the course, we set up cones with a stick on top that kids slide under (keep a coach or helper close by to rearrange the cones and stick when someone blows it up), tires or cones to do a 360 around, barriers to jump over, etc. Use your imagination to create a fun obstacle course that will challenge young skaters’ abilities while having fun.
Red Puck, Green Puck
Purpose: This simple game works on stops and starts and on-ice awareness.
Set Up: Kids line up against the boards with a coach facing them a few feet away.
Game: The coach has a red puck and a green puck in each hand behind his back. Players get in the ready position, and on the signal, the coach will present a green puck and the players start skating. Then the coach will hold out the red puck, which indicates the players need to stop.
Variables: This game may not look like much, but kids love it and are working on basic skating skills while they’re having fun.
» The ADM is all about getting kids moving and having fun. The best way to do that is with stationed-based practices that stress a lot of activity. Coaches don’t need to get too technical. Create a practice that features a variety of fun games and you’ll be amazed how quickly kids will not only develop basic skills but also a passion for the game.