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USA Hockey’s Rule Changes, And The Competing Cultures Of Hockey

Posted by Chris Bowen on July 8, 2013

usahockeyIt’s rule change time at USA Hockey again, which is always a tumultuous time. USA Hockey has been very progressive organization when it comes to advancing the game for both the sake of skill and safety, and those efforts have met with predictable pushback from senior people. In a few instances, I’ve been part of the pushback. I wasn’t a fan of the Advanced Developmental Model1 (ADM) when it first started, figuring it would not help the kids enough to offset for the poor chances to develop younger officials, and would not teach proper positioning. I was mistaken in that; kids learned skills in ADM that they simply can’t learn full-ice, where all most kids seem to do is chase the puck, get rid of it as soon as possible if they get it2, and watch as one or two kids who are obviously better than everyone skate down and pot breakaway goals in the top-shelf of a net being tended by a goaltender who isn’t tall enough to reach that high. The alternative – having a way to teach children the skills of the game, keep them engaged – as noted in this must read piece, USA Hockey had been losing kids as they age – and get them ready for the higher levels at something beyond skating straight and playing dump-and-chase. They also got rid of body checking at the Pee-Wee (U12) level, figuring that children were getting hurt too easily at an underdeveloped age, and due to the fact that children hit pubescence at different times, some 80lb. kids were getting crunched by 140lbs. kids, and parents were pulling their kids. I still think this is a mistake; learning how to take a hit and keep your head up is an important part of the game, and instituting that into the game at bantams just means a slightly bigger kid is probably getting hit by a 170lb. kid moving even faster. However, I hope to be proven wrong about this once there’s enough data to go off of.

This year, USA Hockey decided to double down on past changes, and it’s going to cause a rough adjustment period for everyone involved at the intermediate stages of the game. Read the rest of this entry »

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