Q: How do we teach 10U players to succeed in puck battles with more open ice available?
A: We always want to encourage our young hockey players to be comfortable competing for pucks. While the objective is to ultimately become competent at winning more and more loose pucks, an important piece in this quest is to encourage our 10U players to stay in the puck battle and not leave to open ice. When 10U players were playing cross-ice at 8U, there was less open ice to drift into. At 10U, they must continue to be reminded to stay on the puck and not turn away when the opponent is trying to elude them.
An effective technique for developing this tenacious mindset and puck-battling skill is to partner small-area puck-protection drills with pucks or ringette rings in practice. It’s a great way to encourage 10U players to stay engaged in puck pursuit.
The author, Scott Paluch, was head coach of the gold medal-winning 2016 U.S. Youth Olympic Men’s Hockey Team. He was previously head coach at Bowling Green and an assistant at Boston College. As a player, Paluch was an All-America defenseman at BGSU.
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