Youth Hockey Programs and NHL Success

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youth hockey programs
M I K E M O R R I S

The benefits of youth hockey programs and how they can lead to a career in the pros

If you love hockey as much as we do, you know that Canada is a nation of hockey lovers, and the sport has become synonymous with the Great White North since its introduction in 1875. The International Ice Hockey Federation recorded more than 527,098 Canadian and 556,186 US players registered during the 2023 season, with the numbers continually growing each year.

Canada has also produced a significant majority of the best professional hockey players ever to hit the ice, with 1,026 active players participating in the National Hockey League in 2023. While it’s clear that the population of Canada has a natural predilection for watching, playing and betting on the game of hockey, how closely are youth hockey programs and NHL participation linked?

If you’re a parent based in Canada or the US and looking to help your child develop and maybe even secure a spot in “The Show” in the future, consider the multiple benefits of entering them into a reputable youth hockey program.

The Numerous Benefits of Youth Hockey Programs

For parents, numerous benefits can be realized from playing hockey with your kids, from bonding and enjoying quality time to instilling resilience, work ethic and emphasizing the importance of teamwork in everyday life. While most of us would love to spend more time playing hockey with our little ones, it can be somewhat tricky and expensive to juggle our everyday responsibilities while finding time to buy the necessary equipment and take to the ice.

This is especially true if you do not live near an accommodating rink. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to provide your children with the training and playing time they need to prosper at the highest levels, even if you don’t have the time to personally get your skates on. These days, there are a wide range of well-established youth hockey programs available for children to participate in, many of which are developed in partnership with the NHL. The league is widely regarded as the best professional hockey league in the world, having dramatically raised the profile of the sport almost single handedly. 

As a major professional sports league in the US and Canada, the NHL is comparable to the MLB, NFL and NBA in terms of its scale and revenue generation. If you browse this selection of budget-friendly low-deposit sites that also feature sportsbooks, you will find that the National Hockey League is a major draw for online bookmakers throughout North America, especially at minimum-deposit casino platforms.

Plenty of famous professional hockey players have graduated from youth hockey programs, and NHL scouts regularly visit youth tournaments to keep an eye out for young players to mold.

Youth Hockey Programs Build Resilience

Hockey is a physical game that requires patience, practice and resilience if you want to succeed and make it as a professional player. Because kids who participate in youth hockey programs quickly get used to wearing protective equipment, taking hard knocks and rolling with the physically challenging aspects of the game of hockey, they are more likely to become resilient adults and skilled hockey players beyond their years.

Even if your child does not end up playing professionally and taking a shot at the pros, the process of suiting up, learning to skate in an agile way, losing games and, most importantly, getting physical on the ice is sure to help them build character and staying power, whichever career path they choose.

Transcending Race and Social Status

In recent years, the hockey landscape has become increasingly diverse and accessible for kids from every background, whether cultural, racial or socioeconomic. It is possible to avoid the previously prohibitive costs of equipment and participation by going with a low-cost or free program that is aimed at getting less advantaged kids into the game. This means that hockey can be a great social leveler and that your child can interact with a wide range of talented kids, no matter their social status—everyone is the same once they suit up and hit the ice!

Even the much-loved rapper Snoop Dogg has expressed his desire to set up a new youth hockey league aimed at instilling confidence and providing more opportunities for black youth. Along with Canadian singer The Weeknd, Snoop recently put forward an ownership bid for the Ottawa Senators in pursuit of starting his own youth hockey league (although this bid was unfortunately unsuccessful).

Hockey Welcomes Everyone

In the same way that hockey can actively bring people of different backgrounds together from an early age, youth hockey programs can also be effective in empowering young female players and teaching them that it doesn’t have to be a “man’s world” when they’re out on the ice. Although the women’s game has yet to reach the heights of popularity that the men’s game has in the NHL and other professional leagues, there is an increasing array of inspirational women doing their bit for the sport. The burgeoning Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL), founded in 2023, currently comprises three teams in the US and three teams in Canada.

Arguably, the most famous female player to have emerged from Canada in recent years is the undisputed hockey hero Marie-Philip Poulin, who continues to inspire young girls all over the world. As well as being the stand-out player on Canada’s national team, Poulin has also helped to win gold medals for her country three times at the Olympics, in 2010, 2014 and 2022 respectively.

If you would like to encourage your daughter to be more confident when it comes to participating in sports, a youth hockey program could be just the ticket.

Helping Young Players Develop Their Skills

As well as practical playing skills, training from a young age is likely to instill a better sense of discipline, self-motivation and physical fitness that is sure to benefit any young player ultimately looking to break into the NHL. It’s worth noting that many high-quality youth programs accept players from just 5 years of age.

Finally, it’s important to note that participation in a youth hockey program is an excellent way to build on existing skills and talent, developing young players from children into experienced, seasoned adults who are capable of holding their own at the highest levels of the game.

Find a Youth Hockey Program for Your Child

There is a wide variety of youth hockey programs, schools and camps available for children, which focuses on everything from skills testing and combines to drills and long-term player development. NHL scoring and shooting coach Tim Turk offers several programs internationally.

Whichever youth hockey program you may decide works best for you and your child, always stay positive and patient and remember that success rarely happens overnight.

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