YMCA event will see young players focus on skills, having fun when they take it outside on Paradise Lake
Professional hockey players make it seem so easy – shooting, skating, keeping proper balance, even tying their laces. Mastering concepts like these can be as challenging for a young player as scoring a hat trick for the more experienced hockey hero.
The Paradise Lake Club’s second annual pond hockey tournament on February 8-9 will give up-and-coming Gretzkys at the Novice and Atom levels a chance to hone their skills in a relaxed environment. The round-robin tournament will have kids play each other four-on-four.
“We just wanted to get kids outdoors and active,” said Stefanie Feth, organizer of the event from K-W YMCA camps. “They’re playing on a team of four-on-four, so they learn cooperation, teamwork, communication skills, and just having a good time.
“We’ve opened it up to everyone,” she added. “We sent it out to the local hockey leagues, and if they’re interested they can come down, and if they don’t play in a league, they can play too.”
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What should aspiring hockey players be focusing on at this age? For Rob Waters, president of Woolwich Minor Hockey, it all comes down to one basic concept.
“Novice and Atom and down, it should all be about skill: skill development, skill development, skill development. We don’t really ask our coaches to focus much on systems at a young age; just get the systems so you can excel in hockey.”
He continued, “When they develop into six- and seven-year-old hockey players, you’re expanding the skill-set to stick handling, skating while carrying the puck, and shooting. That all comes with practice. At the young age, I think it all breaks down to getting the proper stride and technique. As they get stronger, their skill-set will advance.”
All of which has practical applications for later in life, Waters added.
“The things you learn in hockey you can take to other parts of your life. Teamwork, the worth ethic, dedication, and just interacting with people and working as a team – all those things apply to your career. I think that’s why a lot of people who play hockey are successful in business.”
The Paradise Lake Club Pond Hockey tournament takes places February 8-9, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., with ages 7-9 on Saturday and 9-11 on Sunday. Cost is $25 per person or $125 per team. To register, contact Stefanie Feth at 519-742-8750, or visit www.kwycamps.ca.