My player has done Learn to Play, now what?

The current hockey season is coming to an end, and you are asking “What should my player do over the summer?”, or “What should my player do next season?”. We are going to try to answer those questions below.

USA Hockey and the Icehounds strongly encourage kids to play multiple sports. The benefits of this are many, including preventing mental fatigue and burnout, but also reducing overuse injuries by exercising different muscles. Most kids will not lose that much of what they learned this season over the Summer, so do not feel like your player will fall behind if they are not on the ice every week. 

If you want to keep your player on the ice over the summer, we recommend several options:

  • Learn to Skate Lessons (or Private Lessons) - improving your player’s skating skills is always a good investment - and every player can become a better skater.
  • Stick and Puck or Public Skate - these are offered by the rink often over the summer. See the Ice Schedule at smetrosports.com for times - and note that they are not the same from week-to-week. Also note that some are listed as “Open” which is all ages, including High School and Adult. If your player is younger, you may want to stick with ones listed as U12.  
  • Summer Camp / Clinic - these can be hard to find - but if you watch our Facebook page, we will try to share what we come across. There is also a good Facebook group called “Central & Southwest Ohio Area Youth Hockey Parents” that we would encourage you to join where camps and clinics are often posted.



So, what do you do next season? That will depend on where your player is now and where they hope to go. These are the different options offered by the Icehounds.

Learn to Play - if your player just started, or is very young, it may benefit them to continue in Learn to Play for another season. Fear of missing out should not be an issue here - players under age 6 are most likely not ready, both physically and maturity wise, to play on an organized team. 

8U and 10U/12U House League - our House League offers 28 ice sessions during the season - 21 of them ADM practice sessions, and 7 in-house scrimmages. This is a good stepping stone between Learn to Play and a Travel program, and the cost is about ¼ that of a Travel program. There are no tryouts of cuts for this program, everyone who signs up will be able to participate.

8U Travel ADM program - for those players who have completed a year of our House League, or are recommended by the Learn to Play coach, this program will participate in all practices and in-house games with our 8U House program, but will also participate as a team in the Buckeye Travel Hockey League’s 8U program, meaning both Home and Away Jamborees against other programs.  

10U, 12U, 14U, or HS Travel Teams - this is for players who are ready to take their game to the next level, and are willing to make the commitment to a longer and more costly season. There are tryouts for these teams in the Spring, and players must attend the tryout to be considered for these teams. This would be the next step for players graduating from our House program, or moving up in age from our 8U Travel ADM program, and, at this point, the only next step for players 14U or older.

One other point of clarification - the terms House and Travel can have different meanings among different organizations. Some organizations say they have both, but what they really have is just a different level of Travel. We consider a House team to be one that has all of their practices and games at the same rink. Any team that plays games against teams from another program at a different rink would be what we would consider a Travel team.  

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