Post #113 – 7/19/23 – Diving In

Is there a ‘best’ type of youth hockey program?

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What Do The Numbers Say?

College coaches get asked a lot from parents and players – which type of program is best to play? Should I go to a prep school or a hockey academy? Should I stay at my age group of ‘play up’. Should I switch teams for next year? Stay at my local high school?

So, as the years have gone by, I’ve always been curious as to what type of program might be considered ‘best’ to play for. Is there even a ‘best’ program type? ‘Program types‘ would be your local area high school team, a USA Hockey sanctioned tier I club team, a prep. school, or hockey academy, etc.

Given the USA Hockey Under-18 Select Camp is this week, I thought it would be a fun to dive into the player field and see what types of programs are represented and how many in each.

So, below is a PDF of that breakdown. You can see the numbers of how many players came from each type of program and what age levels are represented. MN high schools led the way with 26 of 76 players in attendance. Does the mere fact someone plays for their local high school vs. playing at a hockey academy mean anything? Tough to answer.

At the top of the PDF below highlighted in yellow are all the ‘types’ of program I identified and the numbers of players in each.

What I found was 12 different ‘types’ of programs that players came from based on age classification, gender – girls or boys, whether someone played for multiple types of teams like Prep. School and a club team.

I’m not sure if any of the findings answer what is the ‘best’ path to becoming a successful hockey player. Perhaps we can go back to previous years data and run the same kind of report. But considering the U18 Select camp should have the ‘best’ collection of U18 players, this none-the-less is pretty interesting to see.

What’s great about there being so many options – is – there are so many options and not just one or two.

Until Next Time Everyone… Be Well and take Care,

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Grant Kimball is founder and contributing writer at Women’s College and beginning his 4th season as an Assistant Coach with the Yale University women’s hockey program. Grant has developed an experienced perspective in the world of women’s ice hockey, having coached and recruited players from across the globe during his 25+ year amateur and NCAA coaching career. He has coached at 6 NCAA DIII and DI programs in the NCHA (D3), the CHA, WCHA, Hockey East, ECAC, and the Ivy League (DI). Beyond coaching, Grant served as a site representative for the 2019 NCAA quarterfinal of the D-I NCAA Tournament. He also currently serves as an Officer with the American Hockey Coaches Association as Vice President of Membership and sits on the AHCA’s Women’s Hockey Executive Committee.

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