“Which is better: Nationals or Shinny?”

“My daughter loves this ringette program. She can’t wait for it to start. For me, as a parent and an observer, it is good ringette with respect to pace, flow and ring movement.”

A ringette player said “I have developed so much by playing in this program.”

Is this a comment about the celebrated Canadian Ringette Championships or the Ontario Provincial Championships?


It is a comment about the “summer shinny” program.

Is shinny really a program?

Can young athletes develop without lot’s of structure, money, coaching, and facilities?

A former working colleague, Bill Heikkila, received a Lifetime Achievement at the 55th annual Ottawa Sports Awards dinner (2008) for coaching in the sport of track and field. Bill is a former Olympian in the Javelin and had a long and respected career at Sport Canada.

Bill would say that training should challenge athletes to react and adapt in a flexible environment. Bill talked about athletes running through the forest, avoiding uneven terrain, trees and branches leading to agility, quickness and elusiveness – all essential to many team sports.

We live in an era where athletes train on software driven exercise equipment. We learn to expect the same training methods for our youth athletes.

But, what is the cost of learning how to play ringette?

Does the “Athlete Development” agenda require a re-mortgage of the family house?

So, how does “Summer Shinny” bring value to ringette players and why is it so popular with players? How can you explain the waiting list of players who want in?

Let’s talk structure.

The “group” meets once per week over the summer. The “equal” teams are organized by one of the senior and respected players. Players wear either a white or dark jersey. There is no referee, no shot clock and no game sheets. There are two lines of skaters on each team. One goaltender supports each team and different goaltenders come each session. A goal scored is followed by a free pass from centre. There are no penalties – and no trouble.

Experienced ringette players know how to move the ring. And, the nature of shinny invites new players to “get with the flow.” New players learn and adapt to the culture of the “program” improving their level of play, their responsiveness, and their decision-making.

Ringette players who want development ought to try shinny – easy on the busy schedule, the pocketbook and athlete stress.

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