The sport of hockey is considered Canada’s national pastime and every year many young children are enrolled into minor hockey associations across the country. Depending on the league, parents may be asked whether they are registering their child for play in a competitive league representing the city, or for fun playing within the community. Many factors, including influence from friends and each parent’s previous sports experience, can impact which league a child is signed up for.
Here are a few differences between playing competitive and community hockey that parents should consider:
No matter where kids start out playing, all of them typically begin in a house league to play for fun and to hone early skills. As they begin to grow, competition begins to increase and the opportunity to take the jump to the next level is opened up. Parents should know that playing rep is significantly more competitive and can involve certain players receiving more ice-time than others. House league nurtures a player’s skills more, where rep-league nurtures a player and team’s skills with a focus to win.
Before the start of the season, tryouts will be held for all aspiring rep players as a way of choosing the best possible players to make up a team. Players are chosen by coaches based on their specific skills and abilities which will give the team the best opportunity to win games. Tryouts can be extremely nerve-wracking for both the player and the parents, and emotionally and mentally intense as not everyone will make the cut.
House league involves a range of skills and levels of play with no tryouts. Teams in a community league are typically less intense and more balanced for more fair play.
Parents who intend to enroll their kids in rep hockey should know the serious time commitment that is involved. House league may only involve one weekly game and one practice, whereas rep may involve multiple practices along with multiple games throughout that week. Added practice, games, skill practices, and off- ice training may be incorporated into a rep team’s weekly schedule. Out-of-town rep tournaments on weekends are also frequent and will require a significant time commitment from the whole family.
Playing at the highest level requires playing against the best competition. This involves road trips to play teams from other areas. House league teams are typically are community based and are designated to a specific city; rep leagues can travel across province and even the country to play the top teams. Travel means additional expenses, such as gas, hotels, team equipment and food. Parents should be prepared to pay significantly more for their child to play rep than house league. The benefit to this is that they will be playing more games and getting more exposure from prospect scouts as they advance.
Regardless of the league you decide to register your child in, hockey is meant to be fun for both the players and the spectators.