There is nothing worse as a parent than watching your child constantly get pushed off the puck, or play because of their small size.
And, it happens. Maybe not so much in the starting years, but as they progress through their hockey programs and there is more contact allowed, it happens.
Size is one of those interesting things.
When I first began watching hockey my belief was that big meant better. It seemed as though the big guys were the ones that muscled in and won everything.
Now, I have a different perspective. Size, as in big, isn't always better.
It isn't as easy for a big player to maneuver on the ice. They have a lot more height, and usually weight to work with. That means the whole job of being fast on the ice is something they have to work hard at to achieve.
Whereas you watch a small, as in frame and height, player and notice how agile they are on the ice. Samuel Girard of the Colorado Avalanche is a good example or this, as are Matt Nieto and most certainly Matt Calvert.
Each of these players is smaller in frame and height than their other team mates and yet they are fast on the ice.
They beat other taller and bigger players to the puck in a one-on-one battle, because they have the speed and agility to simply go fast.
Being Small Can Have Its Advantages
What I'm saying is that being small can have its advantages.
The key at this point in time is to help them learn to use their smallness to their advantage.
Help them learn to be solid on their skates. Support them to learn to turn fast, shift angles in a split second. Work with them to see the value of their smallness and what it adds to not only their game but also their team.
If a team was made up of all big tall players it wouldn't achieve nearly as much as a team made up of big and small players. Why? Because their wouldn't be a mix of strength and agility in it.
Being agile is a huge benefit when it comes to hockey.
How Can You Help Them Grow In Other Ways?
Right now they may very well be the smallest player on their team, but what is their heritage? Is their Dad or Grandad tall? I initially thought one of my grandchildren was going to be small in stature and now she's grown and is following in her aunties footsteps of being tall and lanky.
Any skills you can teach them now as they are growing, especially related to agility are going to support them moving forward as they grow.
And remember that being agile doesn't only mean in relation to on ice movement. Help them to understand that agile also means in their thinking. How can they see, right now, the value they bring to their team, no matter what their size?
How can they put themselves in the place mentally of being the player that thinks ahead, that's agility.
Karen Cherrett is a Sports Mindset Coach who specializes in coaching hockey players. Karen coaches players to be more focused and play with ease, not stress. And their parents to support their child in the best possible way. Life playing hockey should be fun. Mental health matters. Hockey should be fun, not emotionally overloading. #MindsetMatters