Greenwich Blues Youth Hockey Association Director Brett Farson isn’t inclined to sit idly by during practices.
“This is my third year as hockey director and my first as mite director,” said Farson, of his affiliation with the Connecticut-based association. “I’m on the ice running all the ADM practices with the mite coaches.
“Far and away, the goal for our mite program is individual skill development and keeping the players active for 50 or more minutes out of the hour. Positional play and systems are taught at the older age levels in our program.”
The Blues have designed a program that aims to maximize the hockey skills of each participant, build self-esteem and teach good sportsmanship within the context of a competitive travel program.
Located in Fairfield County, the Blues are based out of Dorothy Hamill Rink in Greenwich but also serve Stamford, New Canaan, Darien, Westport, Fairfield and Norwalk.
“We’re the primary public option to play travel hockey if you live in Greenwich and surrounding communities,” Farson said.
Besides spending time on the ice, Farson also spends time on the phone with USA Hockey American Development Model Regional Manager Roger Grillo. More often than not, they discuss ways to improve the association. As a result of those conversations, the GBYHA has increased its number of teams, and by extension, the number of kids who’ve registered.
“My first year we only had one mite team and two squirt teams,” Farson said. “Now, we have two mite teams and three squirt teams. We’ve also added a third peewee team [and have a bantam team].
“That’s exactly our goal, to get as many kids enjoying hockey as possible.”
All of the Blues’ coaches are non-parent coaches who’ve completed USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program.
“We require all the coaches to attend one coaching clinic per season,” Farson said. “I was pretty enthusiastic and jumped into it. When I jumped into it, the point was how can we make these clinics the best they can be?”
The clinics also helped coaches better explain the ADM benefits to parents.
“It takes a little getting used to for parents to watch a practice and not see traditional lines and drills,” Farson said. “Any such reservations fade very quickly as soon as they see their child in motion for almost a full hour and a sweaty mess at the end of practice.
“With the number of teams we have, the ADM is the key to having fun on the ice, and that’s what keeps players coming back for the next season — and spreading the word to attend our tryouts.”
In keeping players in motion, Farson says the Blues try to limit the time kids spend on one knee listening to a coach talk.
“Every coach naturally is going to want to teach the game of hockey,” he said. “But stopping practice and killing the momentum on the ice for maybe 10 minutes at a time can be disastrous in comparison with what you can achieve by just letting the players play.
“Keep things moving and provide constructive feedback only when players are taking time to rest. When kids are moving, they don’t even hear you.”
By staying active, the kids also focus on the reason they came to begin with.
“The curriculum is tailored exactly to what kids want and need to have fun in order to play the sport,” Farson said. “The best thing is getting the understanding that, like in Finland, they divide up the ice and there’s always something going on.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.