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Why ‘Shortening the Bench’ in Competitive Youth Sports Can Be a Good Thing

"I am the coach. I chose them to be on the team because I thought they were good enough. If they aren't in a position to succeed, that's my fault."

It was the playoffs. The game was tight and the clock was winding down. A player on the other team was just about to step on the ice when one of the coaches grabbed his jersey and held him back. Another player quickly manoeuvred around him and stepped out on to the ice. It was clear to everyone in the arena what was happening: as they say in sports, the coach was shortening the bench. He was choosing to reduce the ice time of some players in order to put out what he thought were his best players.

But this wasn't an NHL game — it was a competitive youth hockey game. I felt bad for the young players who were being held back. I could see their parents barely able to contain their disappointment. I was glad it wasn't my son, I thought to myself. And then it was.

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Ice Hockey

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Issues & Advice