Go Minneapolis is your home for exclusive experiences and deals in Minneapolis. Find all the best Minneapolis coupons here and save on attractions, restaurants and hotels in Minneapolis.» visit go.minneapolis.org for exclusive deals and experiences
At this time of year, parents and players are looking to make decisions about whether to try out for elite AAA travel teams. We asked a youth and high school coach with more than 20 years experience for his insight.
AAA Ideal for Some
AAA hockey is elite hockey, without a doubt, and in many states it is the highest level in youth hockey. The goal of AAA hockey is for players and coaches to get national scouting exposure and to move to the next level. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. AAA hockey and most AAA programs do a very good job at developing their players and moving them to the next level. But does that mean AAA is best for all players? If you make a AAA hockey program does that mean you will make it to a Division I college hockey program? Or, if you don’t make a AAA team, does that mean you will never play college hockey?
I never played AAA hockey and I had a very successful hockey career. I played junior hockey and college hockey, and I even had offers to play professionally. I could give you 101 success stories of players who never played AAA hockey but went on to very successful hockey careers.
Is It AAA or the Highway?
In my opinion many parents and players believe it is AAA or the highway. They play AAA hockey—or try to—just because it is AAA hockey. They believe it is the only way to develop their hockey skills and the only way they can make it. They get blinded by the prestige and forget to ask basic question like:
How to Evaluate a Program
Rather than signing up your player for AAA tryouts because a team is known as the best—or because all your friends’ kids are doing it—stop and do your homework. Step back, ask questions, listen and evaluate.
My point is, no matter the level of play, parents should always make sure to do the right thing for your family and the development of your son or daughter first! If you don’t do your homework, don’t blame the coaches or the team if you find your player short-shifted or your goalie playing once every five games.
Keep in mind that hockey is a game—and it’s supposed to be fun. As Dan Bylsma, head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, says: “Realize that for all the time and money spent on travel hockey in the U.S.—80% of the money is spent on 20% of the kids in travel hockey—we are producing less NHLers rather than more. Many people are beginning to conclude that the reason we don’t produce our fair share of NHLers is because some of the adults in the game are taking the fun out of the sport and substituting too much stress on young kids.”
Editor’s Note: The head varsity coach for a high school in the Denver metro area provided this story.