Players who engage in this one-on-one competition are rewarded for placing a heightened focus on shooting accuracy.
Parents are perhaps the greatest motivators on the planet. Starting shortly after birth, parents learn quickly there are things their kids like and things they don’t, and pairing them together is a great motivational tool.
A spoonful of green bean baby food looks much more appetizing when it approaches looking and sounding like an airplane.
Toilet training is all about becoming a “big boy” or “big girl”, and maybe even a little reward of candy.
And of course, homework is more likely be to completed if they can’t play with their favorite toy or device until after it’s done.
At young ages, kids don’t understand or appreciate the benefits of these things so parents help set goals and rewards until their children are old enough for internal motivation to take over.
The same progression should apply to youth sports.
“I call it the Flintstones vitamins approach,” said USA Hockey ADM Regional Manager Roger Grillo, in a recent article about an 8U event on Minnesota’s Iron Range. “It’s giving the kids something good for their hockey health and development, like the hockey equivalent of spinach, but the kids don’t realize it because they’re just having fun.”
Here are five “flavors” for coaches and parents to try if they haven’t already.
Musical Chairs (or Cones)
This popular birthday party game can be a great way for coaches to teach skating and athleticism. Place one less cone than you have players in a circle. Then, have the players perform a skating skill around the outside of the cones, and on the whistle, everyone races to reach a cone first. Or coaches can have players perform a skill (hops, drop to knees, etc) standing by a cone and then race to a new cone at least two cones away.
King of the Hill (or Circle)
If you’re looking for a fun and competitive way to teach puck skills, this game encourages puck control and puck possession. Each player starts with a puck inside the circle. On the first whistle, everyone must skate with their puck within the circle. On the second whistle, players can try to poke check other players’ pucks out of the circle, while protecting their own puck. The last player with a puck left in the circle wins.
This is a classic when it comes to shooting hoops but can be a forgotten tool for shooting pucks, both on the ice and off-ice. Players who engage in this one-on-one competition are rewarded for placing a heightened focus on shooting accuracy. Encourage players to work on different shot types and changing their body position while shooting.
Tug of War
Teaching good knee bend, proper body lean and how to use edges can be challenging when working with young players. Tug of war provides a fun environment in which players are immediately and naturally rewarded for doing those things effectively.
Last, but certainly not least, we would be remiss to leave out tag games. Whether it’s one-on-one around obstacles, all versus all, themed games like cops and robbers and sharks and minnows or adding a puck to turn it into keep away, tag games truly set the bar when it comes to Flintstones vitamins because they can be adapted to fit numerous skills, situations and age levels.