Confessions Of A Junior Hockey Coach – You Should Be Playing At Your Appropriate Level

The last two week I spend the time scouting all over North America.  I see three provinces in Canada and four States in the US.  For the most part it was a very enjoyable experience.  I see a lot of very good young players, and find some of the hidden gem players.

It is always most exciting to find the player who not many people know about.  Then to follow the player and his development to see if you can predict well in advance where he will finally end up.

It is not exciting, and is the exact opposite of exciting when you see the player being pushed into playing where he should not be playing.  This can happen by the player of parent forcing themselves into playing at an inappropriate level, or by the coach trying to force the player into inappropriate level.

Too many time now I see player who is playing at a level too high up for him.  Some Midget Minor player playing Midget Major, some Midget player playing junior.  IT make no sense when these player do not have success that they could have if they only play at the appropriate level.

Many time you hear the coach or player say they think the player will develop better playing against older player.  That is not true in most case.  In most case, the player being forced to play at higher level do not have great success.

The 15 yr old player in most case is not ready to play against the 17 and 18 yr old.  The 16 yr old in most case is not ready to play against the 19 and 20 yr old.  It is a matter of physical and mental maturity.  Why so many people try to rush the process I still can not figure out.

There very few Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel in the world, or in history for that matter.  What make you think you be the next?

Why would you rather struggle to play at the too high level instead of being a dominating player at the appropriate level?  It is the dominating player that even the worst scout can find.

Why risk failure, injury and limited ice time to play at the higher level?  Why risk damaging the career that was just beginning because of player, coach or parent being impatient?  It make no sense!

The proof that “playing up” do not work most of the time is in the draft result of every Major Junior league and the USHL.  The players picked are almost always the player who is at their appropriate level who is a dominating or very strong player.

Someone once say you do not fix what is not broken.  Why then so many of you think you can fix what already work and has been working for years?


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