34 Reasons Why Ice Hockey Is The Best Youth Sport To Watch

34 Reasons Why Ice Hockey Is The Best Youth Sport To Watch

After 10 years as a sport parent of many sports, I declare that the best youth sport to watch is ice hockey. My journey of being a youth hockey parent began in January 2011. My wife and I currently have four kids. Three boys and a girl. Our middle boy Brayden was four-years old when he asked us if he could play ice hockey.

At the time, I jokingly blamed our neighbors for getting us wrapped up in this expensive sport. (Now I thank them.) We lived on a cul-de-sac and the kids in the neighborhood all started playing street hockey together. Street hockey quickly elevated to roller hockey.

Once he could inline skate, Brayden got the urge to learn how to ice skate. We took all three boys to a few open skates and they all loved it, especially Brayden. After he got the hang of ice skating, he started asking, non-stop, if he could play ice hockey.

That Christmas his gift from us was a session of Learn-To-Play Hockey at our local rink. Since that moment, the game of youth hockey has been the gift that keeps on giving to our family.

Absolutely No Clue

I came into the youth hockey world completely clueless. I never had the pleasure of playing ice hockey as a kid. As we walked into the rink for that first Learn-To-Play session, I felt totally out of my element. I wasn’t even sure how to gear Brayden up properly.

The rink locker room was packed with other kids sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on benches that lined the walls. Parents were also shoulder-to-shoulder kneeling down in front of each kid to help get their equipment and uniforms on. There were huge hockey bags and gear all over the floor.

Totally Hooked

Once Brayden was geared up, laced up and ready to hit the ice, he was smiling from ear-to-ear. He couldn’t wait. And once I saw him step out there and skate around, I was hooked. Youth hockey clubs aren’t stupid. They make their Learn-To-Play programs extremely affordable. They know that once kids and their parents experience youth hockey, they’ve got ’em hooked.

What Makes Youth Hockey So Great?

The thing about hockey is that there are so many different elements of the game that kids need to develop. In other sports there are just a handful of things kids learn how to do during their first season or two playing the sport.

During the first season or two of soccer kids learn some basic foot skills with the ball like dribbling, passing and shooting with both feet. They may also learn throw-ins and how to settle the ball. But that’s about it. Most soccer games with four and six-year old kids are nothing more than games of heard ball. All the kids bunch up and kick at the ball and each other.


During the first couple seasons of basketball kids learn the basic fundamentals of dribbling with both hands, passing and shooting the ball. They may learn different types of shots like layups, bank shots and free throws… but that’s about it.


In full disclosure, I don’t have any experience with youth football, so I’m going off of something you should never base opinions around… assumptions. I know there’s a ton of technical skills and knowledge kids need to learn in football. But I’m guessing that from a football parent’s perspective, during your child’s first season or two of football you see him learn how to block, tackle, avoid tackles, get around blockers, throw the football, catch the football, kick the football, hold the football while running with it… and that’s about it.

I imagine watching four to six-year olds play football is somewhat similar to soccer. Once they hear “hike” it’s a massive game of heard ball where every kid on the other team is trying to get the ball.

Hockey Parents See Growth In Every Practice & Game

In other sports kids get better over the course of the season. However, you don’t really notice the progression from practice-to-practice.



A line drive off the head of a pitcher is one of the scariest things you can witness in sports. It’s the biggest fear of every parent of a pitcher. Protective head gear for kids would greatly decrease the number of head injuries.

The problem is that most of the protective head gear created in the past has either been too bulky to be comfortable or too slight to offer true protection. I even wrote a post a few years ago asking the question, “Should Little League Pitchers Wear Helmets?”

Some of the comments that post generated were about how a helmet would be way too bulky for a pitcher to wear.

Plus, when you’re dealing with kids, they’re not going to want to wear equipment that’s goofy looking or makes them feel self conscious while playing the game. If they’re thinking about how they look because they’re wearing some weird protective head gear, their performance will suffer because they’ll be distracted.

But any kind of protective head gear for baseball would have to be tough enough to protect the impact of the hard ball.

New Protective Head Gear for Kids

I recently discovered the Ball Cap Liner (BCL). It’s a very cool new product that offers outstanding durability and protection without being a bulky piece of equipment. Its sleek and lightweight design allows it to fit under a baseball cap. The Ball Cap Liner is actually unnoticeable from a distance.

The first two things that I noticed about the BCL was how solid, yet lightweight it was. It also has a very cool feel to it. It looks like a piece of plastic, but as soon as you hold it and touch it, you notice that it’s made of a much more rigid and solid material.

It’s made of a patented shock absorbing material that’s also used to make products in the motorcycle and military industries.

A 10-Year Old’s Review

To get a kid’s perspective, I decided to review the BCL with my 10-year old son, Brayden.

I wanted to see was how it felt on Brayden’s head. He said that it was comfortable. The BCL is size adjustable with a Velcro strap. I was impressed by how snug it fit. It didn’t shift or move around on his head at all.

This is a very well designed product.


The only potential obstacle with this product is your child’s cap size. If their team has adjustable caps, it won’t be an issue. But if the caps are fitted and it already fits snugly, they might have an issue getting it over the BCL.

You’ll see in the video that Brayden had a little trouble getting his hat around the BCL. However, that was the first time he had ever put it on. I’m sure it becomes a lot easier to put a cap on around it once kids get used to it.

The model we tested included the extra temple protection. If it wasn’t for that, the BCL would have been virtually undetectable under Brayden’s cap.

Brayden said that the Ball Cap Liner felt good on his head with the cap over it. It wasn’t uncomfortable at all.

Just by knocking on the BCL, you can feel how solid the outer protection is. And the inner lining is padded nicely to provide a comfortable feel on the player’s head.

When I asked Brayden if he would wear the Ball Cap Liner for head protection all the time, he wasn’t sure. He said, “When I pitch I would wear it.”

Peace of Mind For Parents

As a dad, I would definitely feel more comfortable if he wore a BCL while pitching. Those baseballs are coming back off the bats faster and faster as the boys get older. A line drive off the head can happen in the blink of an eye.

For proof, visit this page on Ball Cap Liner’s website that shows recent MLB head injuries to pitchers.

Major League players know all about how fast balls fly off the bats. That’s why the Ball Cap Liner was invented by former World Series champion Cliff Floyd.

Click here to read what Floyd says about why he created the BCL. It’s become a passion of his to provide protective head gear for kids and adults who play baseball.

When I asked Brayden if there was anything he didn’t like about the BCL the only negative thing he could say is that it didn’t go with his team’s uniform. :>) His team is white and blue. Maybe different color combinations is something that the BCL designers can look into down the road.

If you have a son or daughter who plays baseball or softball, especially pitchers, and you’d like to ensure they have good head protection, check out the Ball Cap Liner.

Save 15% On A BCL

I even have a special coupon code set up for you, if you decide to get one.

Just use: BCL16-SDH at checkout to Save 15%.

Click here to visit BallCapLiner.com.

Here’s a short video of my 10-year old son opening and trying on the Ball Cap Liner for the first time.

Thanks for reading.


Instilling Grit and How To SHOW UP.

GehrigEvalsLast night I had a pretty cool opportunity to teach my 12-year old son a little about grit, and the importance of showing up. His 3rd & final round of ice hockey player evaluations was set for 7:50 PM. He performed really well in the first two rounds. I was proud of his effort and focus.

He was hit with some adversity.
He stayed home from school yesterday after getting sick in the middle of the night and early morning. He’s had a cough & allergies acting up for a couple days now. He stayed in bed much of the day but was able to eat and my wife kept him hydrated with water & a couple bottles of Rehydrate OTG.

At 7:00, he didn’t really want to/feel like going to his evaluations. He said he was tired. Since he had been eating and drinking for the past 10 hours, I felt that he would be OK to go to his evaluations.

I just had a gut feeling that this would be an awesome teachable moment for him.
We talked about the importance of seeing things through & finishing. We talked about digging deep to find that desire and determination to pull him through tough moments like this when he’s not feeling the best.

Sometimes the hardest thing in the world to do is to SHOW UP.

The easy thing would have been to stay at home on the couch & go to bed early. But that wouldn’t help him build upon his great performances and effort in the first two rounds. That wouldn’t help him reach his goal.

I told him that he has made it into the top grouping of players battling for spots on the top two teams. A1 & A2.

“The spot you want is there for the taking.” I said. “You just have to go and get it. But you can’t do that unless you show up to claim it.”

He decided to go and give it his best shot. I couldn’t have been prouder last night. We’ll have to wait and see if it was good enough to get a spot on the A1 team or not. But at least he’ll know that he earned whatever spot he gets and there won’t be any room for second guesses or “what ifs.”

The best part about last night is that I believe he will be able to pull from that experience for the rest of his life. In 20 years from now when he’s tired, not feeling great & really wanting to cancel an important meeting with a potential new client, he’ll reflect back to last night and remember how rewarding it feels to dig deep and SHOW UP, even when you don’t feel like it. And hopefully that meeting will change his life.

Opportunities and moments like these are why I love youth sports.

Words of Wisdom If Your Son Is A Talented Pitcher

Q on the moundThere are two things that can make competitive youth baseball coaches drool uncontrollably. A young player with a strong throwing arm and a left-handed young player with a strong throwing arm. Add accuracy into the equation and coaches will get downright giddy.

If you think it’s easy to raise a son with those traits, think again.

Unfortunately, a coach’s giddiness often gets in the way of better judgement. That’s when your son can get hurt. That’s when your son can get burnt out. That’s when your son’s natural talent can feel more like a curse.

Glen Haisley knows what it’s like to have a son who is a young talented pitcher. His youngest son, Quindon, is a 16-year old left-handed pitcher in the New Orleans area. I’ve gotten to know Glen a bit via social media and trading some emails recently. I can tell that he’s raising “Q” the right way. Not that there’s a clear “right” or “wrong” way to raise a young athlete, but Glen puts his son’s best interests first. (He built Q a regulation pitching mound/bullpen in their backyard! How’s that for Fueling Your Child’s Passion For Sports?) Glen is putting his son in the best situations to succeed, without adding extra pressures on him like a lot of over-competitive Sports Dads can do.

One quote from Glen sums up why I feel that he’s a great Sports Dad we can all learn from:

“As a parent, my philosophy to Q is, I will give you all the resources to set you up for success but you have to seize the opportunity.”

If you’re a Sports Dad of a young pitcher (like I am), I think you can learn from some of Glen’s experiences raising his son. Glen was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. I hope you enjoy the  insights and experiences he shares.

Click Here to read the full interview at CoachUp.com.

Should Little League Pitchers Wear Helmets?

Should-Little-League-Pitchers-Wear-Helmets-Sports-Dad-HubPicture this…You’re watching your son pitch a great game. His team is winning two to nothing in the bottom of the 4th inning. There’s one out and runners on 2nd and 3rd.

Your son stares in at the catcher. He’s zoned in. Doesn’t pay one bit of attention to the huge kid in the batter’s box.

He starts his wind up. Comes set and delivers the pitch. The batter rips a line drive that slams into the side of your son’s head. The ball was hit so hard that he had no time to defend himself from his follow-through position.

His knees buckle upon impact. His limp body drops to the ground where he lies motionless with his face in the dirt…

Click Here To Read The Rest At CoachUp.com

The Best FREE Pitch Count App for 2013

Best Pitch Count App iPhone - Sports Dad HubNew, free pitch count apps have launched since I reviewed and recommended the best free pitch count app last baseball season. I’m glad I decided to do this again, because there’s a new champ in the clubhouse this year.

If your son is a pitcher and you haven’t tried using a good pitch count app, I highly recommend it. It’s our responsibility as dads to monitor our sons’ pitches. We’ve got to make sure they don’t put dangerous and unnecessary wear and tear on their arms. After giving a few of the new apps a test spin, I’m ready to share the best ones with you. That way you won’t have to waste your time trying to figure out which free pitch count app is worth a damn.

Last Year’s Pick For Best Free Pitch Count App: 

Pitch Count App - Power ChalkPower Chalk Pitch Count 2.2 

Even though the Power Chalk Pitch Count 2.2 didn’t repeat as the best free pitch count app for 2013, it’s still a great app that can serve you well.

What’s cool about this app:

  • It’s a comprehensive app, but it’s extremely easy to use.
  • Nice big “Ball” and “Strike” buttons to tap.
  • The “Pitcher Database” allows you to create and save multiple pitchers for tracking. (Great for coaches)
  • The “Game Database” lets you save every game. If you can’t remember how many pitches your son threw in his last game, just pull up the saved file and look.
  • The Pitcher Database also allows you to track the total number of pitches your son has thrown during the season. Seasons aren’t getting any shorter, so it’s up to you to know when his arm has tossed enough innings. (Check out the pitch limit for a season later in this post.) This is especially important if your son plays both summer and fall ball.
The only thing that’s not so cool about this app:
  • No sound effects. An identifiable sound effect, or vibration when you tap “Balls” or “Strikes” would be nice so you know for certain if you tapped it or not.

Get this free app at your phone’s app store or click one of these links:

Best Free Pitch Count App 2013 - Sports Dad HubThe Best Free Pitch Count App for 2013

HT Pitch Counter Free from Handtechnics Sports

This app offers everything last year’s champ does and more.

What’s cool about this app:

  • Very comprehensive app, yet a simple interface is easy to use.
  • Allows you to track a variety of pitches (fastball, curve ball, change up, sinker, other). This feature isn’t relevant if your son is younger. But it’s a great tool to help identify if an older kid is having trouble throwing a specific pitch for a strike.
  • The “Pitcher Database” allows you to create and save multiple pitchers for tracking. (Great for coaches)
  • The Pitcher Database also allows you to track the total number of pitches your son has thrown during the season.
  • The “Game Database” let’s you save every game. If you can’t remember how many pitches your son threw in his last game, just pull up the saved file and look.
  • Easy to subtract a pitch if you accidentally tap the wrong button.Best Free Pitch Count App 2013
  • Fun Radar Gun feature that allows you to get a general idea of how fast your son is throwing.
  • Ability to email stats to yourself with one click.
  • Integrated with Facebook and Twitter so you can share your son’s stats with his biggest fans.

Get the Best Free Pitch Count App for 2013 inside the iTunes App store or follow this link:

How These Cool Apps Could Get Even Cooler

Even though the other apps out there didn’t make the cut for my recommendation, a couple of them had some cool features. If the developers for the HT Pitch Counter and Power Chalk Pitch Count 2.2 add these two features with their next update, they will create even further separation from the competition.

  • Set Pitch Count Limits
    An app titled My Pitch Count allowed you to set a pitch count limit. When the pitch count got within five pitches of the limit, a pop-up notified you that the pitcher had “5 pitches left.”
  • Pitching Guidelines
    The app Pitch Count App from Claude Keswani Sports comes with pitching guidelines. It provides safe pitch counts by age and how many days kids of all ages need to rest their arm after pitching.

Safe Pitch Counts and Limits For Kids

If you’re not sure what the pitch limit is for your son or how long he should rest between pitching in games, jot down these safe limits recommended by USA Baseball.

9-10 year old pitchers:
50 pitches per game
75 pitches per week
1000 pitches per season
2000 pitches per year

11-12 year old pitchers:
75 pitches per game
100 pitches per week
1000 pitches per season
3000 pitches per year

13-14 year old pitchers:
75 pitches per game
125 pitches per week
1000 pitches per season
3000 pitches per year

If your son is a pitcher, you need to read this section

This USA Baseball post had so much great information that I decided to include an excerpt here:

Pitch count limits pertain to pitches thrown in games only. These limits do not include throws from other positions, instructional pitching during practice sessions, and throwing drills, which are important for the development of technique and strength. Backyard pitching practice after a pitched game is strongly discouraged.

  • Pitchers should not throw breaking pitches (curveballs, sliders, etc.) in competition until their bones have matured (indicated by puberty) – typically about 13 years of age. In order to succeed, a youth pitcher should focus on good mechanics, a fast fastball, a good change-up, and good control.
  • Pitchers should develop proper mechanics as early as possible and include more year-round physical conditioning as their body develops.
  • A Pitcher returning to the mound in a game once he/she has been removed as the pitcher is strongly discouraged.
  • Baseball players – especially pitchers – are discouraged from participating in showcases due to the risk of injury. The importance of
  • showcases should be de-emphasized, and at the least, pitchers should be permitted time to appropriately prepare.
  • Baseball pitchers are discouraged from pitching for more than one team in overlapping seasons.
  • Baseball pitchers should not compete in baseball more than nine months in any given year, as periodization is needed to give the pitcher’s body time to rest and recover. For at least three months a year, a baseball pitcher should not play any baseball, participate in throwing drills, or participate in other stressful overhead activities (javelin throwing, football quarterback, softball, competitive swimming, etc.).

Do you use and like a different free pitch count app? Share it in the comments or on the SportsDadHub Facebook page.

Thank for reading,