AAA Ice Hockey
If you are reading this, your child is probably an experienced and skilled hockey player. If you are considering whether your child is ready for advancement in their hockey career, then you have come to the right place.
AAA hockey is worth it if you have the time and financial assets to commit to it. AAA hockey is a huge time commitment and can be financially unattainable for many families. However, if your child is not interested in playing a high level, competitive hockey, then AAA hockey may not be worth it.
If your child has been playing ice hockey for a while and you notice that they are doing really well, maybe it’s time for them to move up a rank. This article will give an overview of AAA hockey, followed by detailed information about the requirements and what you can expect from having a child on a AAA hockey team.
There are several hockey youth designations, including B, BB, A, AA, and AAA. AAA hockey, also known as Tier 1 hockey, is the highest level possible for youth, and several things differentiate it from the other levels. It comprises many organizations across the United States and attracts the best players and coaches from across the country.
One thing about AAA hockey that makes it appealing to elite players is the opportunity to play in front of recruiters or scouts from college and professional teams at almost every game. This, of course, means that the games can be high pressure and at high levels of competition.
The United States hockey leagues can be confusing because there are multiple names for similar leagues, and the meaning and requirements can vary by state or region. This is also true in AAA hockey.
While nearly every AAA team will require a tryout, it does not mean that they are at equal skill levels across the board. Many AAA teams are considered the best of the best in the region, making the pool of potential players larger than less advanced leagues.
We cover this topic in more detail in our article about “What is an AAA Hockey Team, and how is it different?“.
This section will detail what AAA hockey parents and players can expect going into a season of the most competitive teams available to youth. You will discover the high and low end of costs, what it will require of both the player and the parent, and finally, some exciting benefits of playing at this level. Here are the things that you need to expect in a AAA Hockey Team:
Hockey has long been known as an expensive sport, available only to families that can afford the costly equipment and ever-increasing travel costs. The AAA team is no different. The annual cost of one youth playing can have a huge range depending on many factors, including your child’s geographic location, age, how much the team travels, which seasons your child plays, and even their position.
These factors make it impossible for us to give you a single price point for the cost of AAA hockey. Travel is typically the most considerable expense for AAA hockey families, particularly for families on the west coast. We have another article looking into the topic of if travel hockey is worth it.
They pay quite a bit more than players in the midwest or northeastern regions. This is because the midwest and northeastern regions of the United States are most popular, with Minnesota deemed “The Hockey State”.
Additionally, it tends to be more expensive for older kids than younger kids and kids who play a whole season compared to a split season. Other costs include coach and administrative fees, ice maintenance, and of course, equipment. For perspective, $5,000 per year per player is on the lower end, whereas some families can pay up to $50,000 per year.
The skill requirement may vary significantly by region or organization. Still, there are a few things that every player must have to thrive on an AAA team.
As we discussed earlier, there is a significant financial commitment on behalf of the parents, which is necessary to be on an AAA team. They all require frequent travel, expensive equipment, and administrative fees to pay coaches and maintain the facilities.
Even though AAA hockey has been criticized for being financially out of reach for many families, it remains true today. Check your local or regional teams to determine if scholarship opportunities are available.
In addition to financial means, the player must also be one of the best in their region. With fewer available teams in the country than other levels, they are often drawing from large geographic areas, making the competition greater and the likelihood lower. The player should expect to try out for the team against many of the area’s best players. It may also be a good idea to review our article on the best youth hockey programs in the USA.
You should also expect extremely high levels of competitiveness from the other players, teams, and coaches. Depending on your values, you may view this as either a pro or a con. However, it is definitely something that AAA hockey leagues have been criticized for in the past. The over competitiveness can lead to a lack of focus on team building and other essential life skills that youth should learn while playing a team sport.
Clearly, AAA hockey is not meant for everyone. It requires enormous sacrifices from both the parents and the child. Perhaps the most crucial requirement for prospective AAA players is a strong love and dedication to the sport. Without that, success in such a high-level team will be impossible.
The time commitment alone can be a considerable barrier for working parents and even on youth’s bodies and minds. Expect to practice at least twice a week and play upwards of 60 games per season. Of course, this will fluctuate depending on how far the team gets in tournaments and playoffs.
Of course, there are substantial potential benefits to both the parents and the players who qualify for a AAA team. This is where you must decide for yourself if the cost is worth it.
The first benefit is that the player is very likely to see a significant improvement in their skill level. The team will be made up of the best of the best in their region, as will their opponents. This, combined with top tier coaches and a lot of time dedicated to the sport, there is no doubt that the player will significantly improve their game.
Additionally, playing in the highest level of youth teams opens the player up to a lot of exciting opportunities. Namely, the chance to be recognized by a college or pro scout is an opportunity experienced by few.
As we mentioned earlier, because of the highly skilled players in this league, college and professional hockey teams send scouts to many of these games, especially for older, more established teams. This opens them up for college scholarships and the chance to play the sport at a professional level. This alone may mean that AAA hockey is worth it to some.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when getting your child involved in a AAA hockey team. Most importantly, think about whether you can afford it and if you and your family are willing to sacrifice a lot of time and energy into this hockey team.
At the end of the day, deciding whether it’s worth it comes down to what is most important to your family. Ensure your child understands how big of a commitment AAA hockey is and work with them to evaluate if the sacrifices are worth the reward.
- The Hockey Thing Tank: The Cost of AAA Hockey
- Bleacher Report: The State of Hockey: Ranking the Top 10 Hockey States in America
- Youth Hockey Guide: AAA Hockey
- My Hockey Rankings: How Much is Too Much?
- Tier 1 Elite Hockey League: League