Hockey is among the essential winter sports here in Canada. It is, after all, one of Canada’s two national sports! Many Canadians have played a game of hockey at one point or another.
However, you might be surprised to learn that participation in hockey has been declining over the past few years. There are a few reasons, notably the cost of equipment and the dangers of the sport. As a result, parents have been looking for alternatives to hockey.
Another reason you might be looking for another sport this winter is because your child wants to quit hockey. The ultra-competitive aura around the sport, where parents often push their child to become the next NHL star, can suck the joy right out of the game for many children. Others may not like the team they’re on or maybe their friends are doing something else. They may not think they’re good enough to continue playing and would like to try another sport during the winter.
If your child doesn’t want to play hockey, you don’t need to worry. Hockey isn’t the only winter activity your child can participate in! In fact, you have many different options to keep your son or daughter active and playing all day.
Canada Has Two Seasons
Many have heard the old joke that Canada has two seasons: “winter” and “construction”. Some people apply a similar mentality to sports: "hockey" and "everything else”. The fact that hockey dominates the winter activity scene illustrates just how common this idea is. While there are many other winter sports your child could take part in (including skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, and more), if your child isn’t a fan of the snow or cold, it might be difficult to convince them these sports are a better fit for them.
What about the sports played during Canada’s “other” season? Baseball, flag football, and soccer are all popular during the spring, summer, and fall, yet when the snow flies, these sports suddenly disappear from people’s minds.
Taking It Indoors
When the days get short and the snow piles up, most people think about winter sports or indoor sports. Since baseball, flag football, soccer, and other “summer” sports are often played outside, it’s easy to assume the season is “over” when Old Man Winter comes knocking.
It doesn’t have to be this way! In fact, you can choose from a variety of indoor sports camps and clinics for your child to participate in throughout the winter months. If your son or daughter loved playing soccer from May until October, the fun doesn’t have to end - just move play inside.
Other Winter Sports
There are many activities for kids to participate in year-round in Ontario. If your child doesn’t want to play hockey, you can explore other options until you find something your child does enjoy!
While most people think of baseball and soccer as outdoor-only sports, you can also play inside! Through a variety of drills, competitions, and modified games, participants get to experience all aspects of the game while focusing each week on developing different skills.
Another option parents may not immediately think of is flag football. Many have mistakenly written off football entirely because of the risk of injury. Flag football is a non-contact alternative to the tackling in full-contact football, which reduces the chance for injury.
Lastly, basketball is generally played throughout the winter in indoor gyms. If your child doesn’t like hockey, basketball is a fantastic alternative and provides an opportunity to develop important fundamental movements like jumping and shooting.
Testing the Waters
What if your child wants to quit hockey but doesn’t know what they’d like to do instead? Many winter sports clinics will allow you to try out a session before committing to the full program in order to see if it is a good fit! Your child might discover a great love for indoor soccer or maybe you have a baseball prodigy on your hands! This will also allow you to switch sports every 8 weeks – for example, your son or daughter could play baseball or soccer in the fall, and basketball and flag football in the winter. It’s a great way to keep learning and challenging your child until they discover the sport they're truly passionate about. Not to mention all the benefits that come along with multi-sport participation.
Youth sports should be fun. If your child isn’t enjoying hockey, encourage them to try something else. With so many different camps and clinics available throughout the winter and all year long, your child is bound to discover a sport they truly enjoy, which will encourage them to stay active and play all day.