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Spotlight: How parents are making hockey fun again

Some kids are dropping out of hockey. Here’s why, and what parents can do to bring fun back to the sport.
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According to Hockey Canada, participation in hockey is slowly declining.

Any guesses why?

If your mind immediately arrived at smart phones, a youth swamped by technology, or the belief in a lack of attention overshadowing today’s kids, you wouldn’t be alone.

But you’d also be wrong.

Hockey is losing because kids just aren’t finding it fun anymore.

The truth is, nearly three quarters of Canadians say that children’s sport has become hyper-focused on winning which has placed fun and fair play on the sidelines. This is a major issue considering 97 percent of Canadians believe that relaxation and fun are the core benefits of sport.

With the focus evolving to developing elite athletes and results-obsessed teams, hockey has ended up at war with itself, pitting die-hard competition and the love of the game against one another.

And the main casualty? It’s the very foundation of the game – fun, physical activity.

This paradigm shift to winning-first has some youth feeling vulnerable, intimidated and less-than when it comes to staying in the game while also creating roadblocks for kids wanting to explore the sport.

How kids are coming back to hockey for the love of the game

Remember when it was okay for kids to just have fun? It’s hard to believe we have to ask ourselves this.

Well, there’s a hockey association in Guelph that believes this question shouldn’t exist. And they’ve been doing something about it for over 40 years.

The Stanley Stick Hockey Association of Guelph has been successfully providing a fun, nurturing hockey experience for kids aged 5 to 17 since 1975.

This not-for- profit structured hockey league offers an enriching hockey experience for close to 500 players each season and focuses on developing the fundamental skills of the game – skating, stickhandling, passing and most importantly, team play.

What’s more, kids participating in Stanley Stick gain a sense of achievement, increased self-esteem, and a sense of belonging and self-worth all encompassed in a positive social atmosphere.

Providing the best environment for growth

The Stanley Stick program is designed as a practice/game split format. This structure provides coaches the opportunity to teach fundamental skills and immediately reinforce learning through the application of those skills in a game.

The result is an accelerated learning environment and more confident players.

Plus, children learn to win by playing hard and not according to a scoreboard. Winning is based on the effort they put in – a mindset that is valuable far beyond the rink.

For Stanley Stick players, competition derives internally which teaches them how to self-motivate and positively challenge themselves.

Give your child the chance to fall in love with hockey

Participation in hockey’s mainstream is declining because the idea that success is rooted in winning has eclipsed inclusive player development and fun.

Stanley Stick takes what turns people away from hockey – line stacking, benchwarmers, a win-at- all-costs attitude and strips the game to its foundation so kids can have fun.

Registration opening soon

Register your child with the Stanley Stick Hockey Association for the upcoming 2018/19 season on April 7 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Clair Road Emergency Services Centre Settlers Room, 160 Clair Rd. West in Guelph.

Arrive early as registrations are numbered and taken in sequence. No guarantee every child registered that day will secure a spot for the 2018/19 season, however Stanley Stick does their best each year to allow as many kids as possible to play.

For more information, please visit

This Content is made possible by our Sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.