Interesting article on ADMKids aimed at 10U parents: “Should My Child Be ‘Playing Up’”
I agree wholeheartedly with their sentiments. At 10U, it is more important to be playing with your friends and having a good time, not aiming for “Elite” level hockey, or playing with kids 2-4 years older.
I supposed I should caveat this with, if you have to travel an hour or more compared to a well run local team that your kid is more likely to have buddies on anyway, maybe the age/development hit isn’t so bad. But most (good) programs that have a 12U team, also have 10U ones…and 8U.
On the girls’ side this age bracketing has seemed even more of a fallacy. I’ve seen 10U teams playing 12U and 14U schedules. Interestingly, when they play other girls teams, they are also 12/14U registered but with players who all fit the 10U birthdays. Cross-over games with boys they are back to 10U.
At the end of the day, yes, it is better to have your child in a well run program with philosophies you agree with. There will always be edge cases where you cross to another age bracket (sometimes to match skill upwards and sometimes downwards). As long as there isn’t a large size differential I’ve always been a fan of having older kids, just starting, playing with younger kids, if their skill levels match. Having kids compete with friends and/or other players with similar skills is important to keeping the kids on the ice and having fun.