Andy & Diane Ness

The mini-Mite checklist

By Diane Ness

As November is finally here so is the start of mini-Mite hockey. Whether you are a coach or a mom or a dad that wants to get out on the ice with your son or daughter, take along my must have checklist. Always remember at this age try and make skating and hockey fun and creative. Engage yourself into a lot of little games. Remember, everything is a contest at this age, even getting into line. So from right out of the skate shop and onto the ice, here we go ...

1. Falling down and getting up. It is easiest to get up with someone holding onto one skate firmly on the ice.

2. March across the ice. Pick up the knees and feet up while you march, one foot at a time.

3. Glide on two feet. Pretend to put glue on the inside of your skates. Then take about five marching steps and glide.

4. Glide on one foot. Take several steps then pick up one foot and try and hold for three seconds. Make sure your ankle is straight up and down. Make it challenging and glide in between two sticks.

5. Forward swizzle. Using a large marker, make a drawing on the ice. Swizzle over this and the kids will want to repeat this several times.

6. Backward swizzle. Try the same move only backwards. This is the hardest maneuver for a mini Mite. They should try to do five in a row with some speed in between.

7. Backward skating. Shift your weight backwards from one leg to the other. Try to avoid the “wiggle.”

8. Scooter pushes. This is a start to a good stride. Slide one knee out forward while pushing the other foot back. Then glide on  two feet. Work with one foot for awhile then eventually alternate feet.

9. Flip flops. Now we begin to feel our edges. Even my pros work on this drill. While gliding on two feet, lean over your edges. One foot will be on the inside and the other foot will be on the outside edge. Then repeat the other direction. I do this drill with every practice and every age group. It is that important.

10. Snow plow. Have the skater push both skates out, shaving the ice, performing a snow plow stop.

Well, there you have it. From getting up to the edge drills, have fun with it. So, for all the 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds ... let’s play hockey.

Diane Ness has been a full-time professional skating coach for over 35 years. She has coached both figure skaters and hockey players alike and is a former U.S. gold medalist in figure skating. She is the Director for the Pro Edge Power hockey camps and the Learn to Skate program at Highland Park Arena. Ness is the skating coach for the New Jersey Devils, the University of Minnesota men’s and women’s hockey teams and the U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey Team. She has trained players in the NHL, AHL, NCAA, USHL and NAHL.