It’s a coming of age in youth hockey when you carry your hockey bag and tie your hockey skates. As a hockey parent, watching your child grow and develop on and off the ice is a rewarding experience. Hockey isn’t just about scoring goals and making saves; it’s also about fostering independence and responsibility. A few key milestones in a young player’s journey are learning to carry their bag and tie their skates. These small but significant steps can pave the way for greater independence in hockey and life.

My Hockey Experience 

As a parent of a grown hockey player, youth hockey tournament director and learning to play hockey as an adult, I’ve navigated and observed a lot of youth hockey. Some determining factors are coach driven and some are peer driven. When our kids saw others carrying their bag, thought “I can do that.” 

The sport has taught us patience, discipline, teamwork, and resilience. One of the most memorable milestones was when our youth hockey player proudly declared, “I can tie my own skates!” It was a small victory but significant, marking steps on their journey towards independence.

Start building their independence at the beginning. Determine what your young hockey player can do based on their age. Learning proper care of all that expensive gear can be a great place to start. Let’s jump into the hockey bag and tying of the skates.

When Should Your Child Carry Their Bag?

Age Range: 6-10 Years Old

They should be strong enough to manage the weight and size of the equipment in the type of bag that they have. Many kids start with a wheeled bag. It makes a lot of sense in helping your child manage their gear and their bag.

Here are some signs your child might be ready:

  • Organization Skills: Does your child remember to pack all their equipment?
  • Interest and Willingness: Is your child eager to take on this responsibility?
  • Physical Strength: Can your child lift and carry their bag without struggling?

Encouraging your child to carry their bag helps develop their organizational skills and gives them a sense of ownership over their equipment. Determine where your hockey player is in these suggestions and here’s a big tip: Figure out the plan for organizing/carrying/transporting the bag of equipment at home! Don’t decide at the rink. This can be embarrassing and stressful. Make the experience work for your kid.

When Should Your Child Tie Their Skates?

Recommended Age: Around 10 Years Old

Tying skates requires fine motor skills, strength, and coordination. Most children are ready to tie their own skates around age 10. Many times, this is determined by the coach, that the kids need to carry their gear, get themselves dressed, and tie their skates. 

Here are a few indicators that your child is ready:

  • Hand Strength and Coordination: Can your child tie their shoes efficiently?
  • Patience and Persistence: Are they willing to practice and keep trying, even if they don’t get it right the first time?
  • Desire for Independence: Does your child express a desire to tie their own skates?

Teaching your child to tie their skates fosters independence and boosts their confidence. 

Secret Tip: Have your player practice tying and untying their skates at home! Try laces hockey skates on your own feet. Think about the gear that has to be navigated to tie the skates. Socks, shin pads, hockey pants/breezers. There’s a lot more going on than simply tying shoes. 

Don’t decide at the rink. This can be embarrassing and stressful. Make the experience work for your kid and set them up for success.

How to Know When Your Child Is Ready

  1. Observe Their Readiness: Pay attention to your child’s physical abilities and willingness to take on the tasks.
  2. Practice at Home: Have your child practice carrying their bag around the house and tying their skates on a practice pair. Meet them where they are and add as they are ready.
  3. Positive Reinforcement: Praise their efforts and celebrate their successes to build their confidence. Ask them how it’s going. Let your hockey player know you see the skill developing. 

We recommend the USA Hockey Parent Resource -. There’s a lot of good information here for every hockey parent whether it’s your first year or you are a seasoned hockey parent.

Fostering independence in young hockey players is about more than just improving their skills on the ice. It’s about teaching them responsibility, self-discipline, and confidence that will benefit them throughout their lives. By encouraging your child to carry their bag and tie their skates at the appropriate ages, you are setting the foundation for a lifetime of self-reliance. Celebrate each milestone and support them as they grow, both as players and as individuals.

We hope you have an awesome hockey season! We know these tips will get you off on the right skate!

Want more tips on having a great youth hockey experience, follow us on Social Media. We share what our tournament attendees have to say and our tournament experiences and tips daily. With over 30 years of experience organizing youth hockey tournaments, being hockey players and hockey parents, we are a wealth of information in youth hockey and the go-to for a great tournament experience. We look forward to having your team participate in a Showdown Tournament!