Learn to: Skate-Play-Compete


If using your mobile device to Register for our Learn-to-Skate and Learn-to-Play programs, please scroll down to the bottom of this page.

Hockey is a wonderful sport for children and their families. Children who play hockey are able to make new friends and stay active throughout many months while playing the world’s fastest, most exciting sport. If you are the parent of a youngster and are wondering whether hockey is right for your family, we have provided some information below to help you with your decision. The hockey community is very friendly and welcoming, and the South Windsor Youth Hockey Association would love to have you join us.


Learn to Skate ---> Junior Rangers and In House Game Day ---> Travel Program


Ages

Learn-to-Skate

Ages 4-12

Junior Rangers Learn-to-Play

Ages 4-10

In House Game Day

Ages 4-12

When

Registration for all programs will open no later than August 1

Learn-to-Skate monthly sessions will run from September through November.

Junior Rangers Learn-to-Play will run for 10 weeks starting in October.

Winter Session will start December 10th

In House Game Day will run from December through February.

Where

South Windsor Arena

585 John Fitch Blvd

South Windsor, CT

Practices

Learn-to-Skate

Sundays from 7:00-8:00 am

(Sept will run from 10:10-11:10 am)

Junior Rangers Learn-to-Play

Sundays from 8:10-9:10 am

In House Game Day

Saturdays from 7:00-8:00 am


Games

Junior Rangers - focuses mainly on practices and small area games.

In House Game Day - weekly cross-ice game play

Jerseys

Junior Rangers - a jersey will be provided as part of the equipment package your child receives.

In House Game Day - jerseys will be provided for our participants.

LEARNING PROGRESSION


Learn to Skate ---> Junior Rangers and/or In House Game Day ---> Travel Program


1. Learn to Skate Program

This beginner program is designed to teach boys and girls 4 -14 years old the basics of skating. Knowing how to skate is not a prerequisite. Our instructors will teach them how, preparing them to join those already skating and learning the fundamentals of the game.

The key ingredient to South Windsor Youth Hockey Association (SWYHA) Learn to Skate is the element of having fun. South Windsor Youth Hockey has adopted and implemented a development model that adheres to the criteria and philosophies established by USA Hockey.

The monthly Learn-to-Skate Program consists of four, 60 minute, on-ice sessions starting in September and then running each month through November. You pick the one(s) which is best for you and your family.


The cost of the Learn to Skate program for the 2023-2024 season is FREE. However, the following items are required:

  • Hockey skates,
  • Hockey helmet with face mask,
  • Hockey gloves
  • USA Hockey Membership - depending on the age of your child, there may be a fee for the annual membership. www.usahockey.com


An equipment package which includes hockey skates, a helmet with face mask and gloves is available at the South Windsor Pro Shop, or if your child is signed up for the Junior Rangers Learn-to-Play program, they will receive free equipment as part of the Junior Rangers program.


2. Junior Rangers Learn-to-Play Program

South Windsor Youth Hockey has partnered with the New York Rangers to bring the Junior Rangers Learn-to-Play program to the South Windsor Arena. The Junior Rangers program is a great way to introduce your son or daughter to ice hockey at a very affordable rate. No prior skating experience is required although many take advantage of our Free Learn-to-Skate program.


The Learn-to-Play program is a skill development program that introduces the fundamentals of ice hockey. The program is available for children 4 to 10 years of age and is led by a New York Rangers certified coach.


For a registration fee of $295, the program includes:

  • A full set of equipment to keep. Valued at $595 retail.
  • A professional personalized fitting led by Pure Hockey’s fit experts.
  • 10 weeks of on-ice instruction led by New York Rangers certified coaches.
  • Free registration with USA Hockey.
  • Automatic enrollment in our Learn-to-Skate program.


Fittings can be done at various Pure Hockey locations (West Hartford and West Springfield are the closest locations) or online through the Pure Hockey website.


***This program is separate from our Learn-to-Skate and In House Game Day programs and early registration is required through the New York Junior Rangers website.


The Junior Rangers Learn-to-Play program is a great way to get all of your hockey gear needed for our Mini Knights Learn-to-Skate and In House Game Day programs.


3. In House Game Day

Looking to get some game experience? Or skate an extra day? Our In-House Game Day program is designed to give your child the opportunity to compete in cross-ice games each week. The coaching team will start each day with some fundamental skill development work and then let the kids play some hockey. This program starts in December.


The program focuses on:

  • Continued skill development
  • Introduction to game play
  • Opportunities to explore the goalie position


This program is separate from the Junior Rangers Learn-to-Play program. Participation in the Jr Rangers is NOT required although basic skating skills is recommended.

In House Game Day players are required to wear full hockey equipment. This includes:

  • Hockey helmet,
  • Hockey gloves,
  • Hockey skates,
  • Hockey pants,
  • Hockey socks,
  • Shoulder pads,
  • Elbow pads,
  • Knee/shin pads,
  • Supporter/cup,
  • Neck protector
  • Hockey stick.


A South Windsor Youth Hockey practice jersey will be provided by SWYHA to each player as part of the registration fee.


3. Travel Program

The travel program offers skill development and games against teams from other youth hockey programs in Connecticut. Children are placed on a team with others at a similar age and skill level on the basis of tryouts held in the spring. Travel teams typically skate two practices during the week and two games (home and away) on the weekend from September until late February. Travel teams typically play approximately 30-40 games home and away. Teams also may play in tournaments during the season as well as an end of the year State Tournament. The commitment by a family in a travel program is usually higher simply due to the time for practices and games, and the amount of travel involved.

The travel program is broken up into the following Divisions:

a) 8U Mite – 7 to 8 years

b) 10U Squirt - 9 to 10 years

c) 12U Pee Wee - 11 to 12 years

d) 14U Bantam - 13 to 14 years


Frequently Asked Questions

When should my child start?

While the Learn to Skate and Learn to Play programs are open to children of all ages, they are targeted for children 4-12 years old and there are advantages to starting your child early. Four and five year olds take to skating very easily, and will have plenty of time to practice their skating and hockey skills before moving on to travel hockey.

Are girls welcome?

Yes! Many girls enjoy youth hockey and the number is increasing every year. Almost all girls start out in a youth hockey organization like SWYHA, with boys and girls learning and playing together. As they get older, some girls choose to play for a girls-only team, but many female hockey players got their start playing with the boys at co-ed organizations.

How much does it cost?

Hockey has a reputation as a sport that costs a lot of money to play. However, the cost of getting started is very reasonable with starter equipment packages available for a very modest cost. The cost of Learn to Skate is FREE, and payments for Learn to Play are also very reasonable, with payments for Learn-to-Play divided into two payments. Once your child moves on to travel hockey, the total cost increases, but remember that your player could be on the ice four to five times a week between practices and games for about six months, so the per-hour cost ends up being lower than for many other youth sports.

Will I have to be at the rink at 5 AM?

No. If you believe TV commercials, you might think all hockey practices take place at 5 AM. In reality, practices during the week are in the evenings, and games are at reasonable hours on the weekends.

What happens at the end of the Learn-to-Skate (LTS) session?

If your skater missed the sign-up period for the Junior Rangers, your child can either re-roll into our Free Learn-to-Skate classes and/or sign up for our Winter Junior Rangers Learn-to-Play program and/or In House Game Day program that start in December.

Does my child need to participate in the Junior Rangers in order to play in the In House Game Day?

No! The Junior Rangers is a great way to introduce your young player to the game of hockey. The focus of the Jr Rangers is skill development where the game day is focused on letting the kids play actual games. Many families take advantage of the Junior Rangers for a couple of reasons:

  1. It is a great and cost-effective way to get all the equipment needed for Learn to Skate and In House Game Day.
  2. Focus is on basic skill development through station-based practices.
  3. It is a bridge for players and families to try ice hockey for before committing to a full season of travel hockey.
  4. Kids love the fact that they are getting equipment with the New York Rangers logo on them.

However, sometimes a family misses the cut-off date for registering with the Rangers, or they can't make the scheduled dates/times of the Jr Rangers program. Rather than wait another 3 months to a year, we welcome your son/daughter to take advantage of our Free Learn-to-Skate sessions and sign up for our In House Game Day program.

Is hockey dangerous?

After watching pro hockey games, you may worry that your child might get hurt playing the sport. While no youth sport is completely free of dangers, serious injuries are very rare in youth hockey. All players wear protective equipment including a helmet whenever they are on the ice, and physical contact (checking) is not allowed until the Bantam level (13 and 14 years old). Coaches and referees take safety very seriously.

What other equipment will my child need to participate?

Besides the basics (skates, helmet and gloves) your child uses for Learn-to-Skate, s/he will also need pants, hockey socks, shoulder pads, elbow pads, knee/shin pads, supporter/cup, neck protector and a hockey stick. All necessary equipment required to play hockey is available in the pro shop at the South Windsor Arena.

How much time do I have before I have to make my decision?

If you are worried about whether your child is ready to take that next step, you can always ask a coach. But in our experience, every child who completes Learn-to-Skate is ready for Learn-to-Play. Learn-to-Play is really just a continuation of Learn-to-Skate with the addition of sticks and pucks, and more time on the ice skating which is the number one thing every child needs to improve.

Where and how should I dress my child in his/her hockey gear?

The players should put on their hockey gear, with your assistance, in one of the locker rooms with their teammates. Even though it is warmer, the Lobby should not be used because too many people walk through the area and it becomes too congested and unsafe for the kids. While the locker rooms can be crowded, it is good for the young hockey players to get used to the process. Plus, they have a chance to enjoy socializing with each other. Putting on the hockey gear can be confusing at first. Parents who are new to hockey should ask one of the coaches, usually wearing a coach jacket, any questions about the gear. Pure Hockey has a great video you can watch here:

How to dress your hockey player

How long before practice starts should we arrive at the ice rink to get ready?

Bear in mind that ice time is very valuable, so we want all of the skaters on the ice by the time the practice is scheduled to start. We also divide the kids into smaller manageable groups, so it helps to have them all present for this process. Please help the coaches and other skaters by being on-time.

You should arrive at the rink at least 20 minutes before the scheduled start time so that your skater is ready to go. If you need more than 20 minutes for your child to be ready with equipment and skates, that is totally okay and you should arrive even earlier. Generally, we suggest 20-30 minutes ahead of time.

How do I find out how my child is doing?

Coaches and Assistant Coaches are always available after practice if you have specific questions about your child. They want your child to have fun and learn hockey. Feel free to ask questions.

Who is the best person for information?

Your best source of assistance will be the Head Coach or Team Representative. Most of your emails will come from these individuals. They will be around at most practices to provide information and help address any issues or concerns.

What else do I need to know?

After a Learn-to-Skate or Learn-to-Play session, the best thing is some hot chocolate with your little skater as well as lots of smiles and encouragement.

For more information, contact us here:

Jake Shubinski

President

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