The Facts are In on Cross-Ice Hockey

By Trevor Erhardt, ProSmart Hockey Head Coach

What's your Attitude towards Cross-Ice Hockey?

There’s a hot debate going on in many hockey rinks right now, and that is whether Initiation and Novice players are better off playing cross-ice or full-ice games.

Parents ask the questions…

“Why should my child play cross-ice, what will they learn?”

“I want my child playing on full-ice like the NHL” 

Stats don't lie, Long Term-Athlete Development research tells us kids need more interaction in their games, which is exactly what cross-ice hockey does. Many minor hockey associations across Canada and USA have mandated cross-ice games. Here are the pros and cons.


  • Kids don’t learn the rules: off-sides, icings, faceoff locations, penalties, etc.
  • Kids don’t get structured game situations
  • Parents attitude: my kids are too good for cross-ice hockey


  • More efficient use of ice time and space
  • Allows more kids to be on the ice at the same time
  • Increases the use of the core skating skills “ABC’s” (Agility, Balance, Coordination)
  • Increases the number of puck touches per player
  • Provides a better environment for teaching ice awareness and boosting hockey sense
  • Promotes stronger passing, pass receiving, and puck support
  • Allows young goaltenders, when introduced, to experience more game-like action
  • Creates a stronger degree of challenge for the more advanced players by having them face more opposition on a smaller amount of ice space
  • Builds the confidence of our lesser-skilled players

Sure, it might not be as engaging for a spectator, but it starts with you, the coach, being an advocate for cross-ice hockey. A team will naturally follow your lead, so if you excite them about playing a game on any sized rink (pond, street, etc.) then they will show the same enthusiasm. You must nurture the fun in any competitive learning environment.

Consider this; when you take your kids to the frozen pond, what size of rink are they making? I almost guarantee that it isn't 200 x 85.


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