Our recent piece with a school hockey coach and club coaching director prompted a wealth of response.
Here, we collate some of our readers’ reactions and offer their own thoughts on how to avoid mismatches at junior level.
At the youngest levels in Spain, we play four quarters per match. Each quarter is either won, drawn or lost. Whoever scores the most goals in a quarter wins that quarter and is awarded 1 goal. If a quarter is drawn, neither team is awarded a goal. At the end of the day, the worst result a team can suffer is a 4-0 defeat. However, if they can survive just one quarter without conceding a goal, this reduces to 3-0 and (the weaker team) feel like they have achieved something.
There is no greater demotivator than a child going into School on a Monday morning and having to tell their friends that they were beaten 21-nil on Saturday. When umpiring junior matches I never let the score go to more than 5-0 but I was sometimes hard pressed to find reasons to disallow goals. These types of matches do not benefit either side. It is better for the coach to revert to a spell of keeping possession rather than racking up goals against a ‘soft’ opposition.
In summary, clubs need to be honest about the strength of their squad when they enter competitions. I also think EH need to police entries, big clubs with a strong track record in junior hockey should be entering Tier 1
The problem is complicated by playing in leagues where points and goals become significant.If games at this level are played as friendly then coaches can manage the game better. Even finishing the original game early and mixing the sides up. Better to communicate with the other club and gauge their strength. Give opportunities to lower ranked players who always train but don’t make the team. With rolling subs as well there is no need to crush the opponent.
There’s a lot of comments about not letting the score get away from a team. However, playing against a team that you know aren’t trying to score is even more damaging. It robs children of potential development opportunities. However, the coach in the most important person in ensuring a positive outcome
Spot on from Pete. Far too many instances over the last 2-3 seasons of clubs racking up 20+ score lines, to what end? I would love to see coaches come together and go through ideas as to how everyone can still get something out of the game as it can’t be fun for either side.
In the Juniors, GD is currently limited to a max of 8 but many coaches are unaware of or disregard the rules! In London junior leagues, if a team is clearly in the wrong tier, they are moved as soon as practicable into the correct one so that all teams have a better experience.