The Fair Play program was originally implemented during the 2004-05 season, as a component of Minnesota Hockey’s Hockey Education Program (HEP), with the goal of promoting safety and good sportsmanship. Since then, Fair Play has been lauded as one of the top behavior influencing programs in youth hockey.
Fair Play is based on the premise of rewarding teams for maintaining proper behavior during competition. Teams have the opportunity to earn an extra point (Fair Play Point or FPP) in their district or league standings for staying under the established threshold for penalty minutes and displaying good sportsmanship.
While Fair Play does not impact the outcome of individual games, consistently good (or bad) behavior can have a cumulative effect on league standings and playoff seedings, encouraging players, coaches and parents to display positive behavior at all events.
Here are three keys for helping your team earn all of their fair play points this season.
No Nonsense – Parents and coaches play a key role in modeling good sportsmanship for youth athletes. That’s why any conduct requiring an official to remove a parent/spectator or a coach from the game results in an immediate loss of that team’s fair play point. Make it a point to model positive behavior from the bench and in the stands, and your team takes a great first step towards earning an extra point each game they play.
Respect the ROOTS – The Positive Coaching Alliance developed the acronym ROOTS for respecting the rules, opponents, officials, teammates and self. By teaching young players to honor great game by showing respect in all of these areas, we can reinforce how important it is to eliminate the dangerous plays which result in penalties such as head contact, charging, checking from behind or abuse of officials.
Teach body contact and body checking fundamentals – USA Hockey and Minnesota Hockey encourage coaches to teach a progression of body contact and body checking skills starting at the Mite/8U and Squirt/10U age groups. Teaching players the proper techniques, positioning and awareness plays a critical role in increasing player safety on the ice and reducing plays that lead to elbowing, boarding and other potentially dangerous penalties.
Over the years, the Fair Play program has shown it is possible to play hard and safe. By focusing on these three areas, you can help your team learn to play hockey with respect for themselves, their opponents and the game itself, while also accomplishing their goals.