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14U/16U Q-and-A: Early-season key points of emphasis

08/31/2017, 4:45pm MDT
By Scott Paluch, ADM regional manager

Q: What are some early-season coaching points of emphasis for 14U/16U?

A: When a new season is about to begin, coaches are thinking about how to approach the upcoming campaign. For 14U/16U coaches, there are three key points for practice preparation that can maximize an athlete’s performance at this age. As players graduate through the Golden Age of Skill Development at 10U/12U, coaches need to continue the individual skill development while focusing on the following training keys. Parents and players should be cognizant of them as well.

  1. Players must learn to train at a higher on-ice pace. Coaches should prepare a plan that forces players to play faster.
  2. Coaches should continue to emphasize body contact and winning puck battles. Training sessions should incorporate many drills that have an element of moving toward and competing for loose pucks. Continuing to teach effective body-contact and body-checking skills in an age-appropriate manner is critical.
  3. Training sessions for this age group must focus on decision-making and hockey sense. Forcing players to make a quick hockey decision after a puck is won or lost is a vital piece of developing hockey sense in our young players.

Practice at pace, competing for pucks and a heavy emphasis on decision-making are three simple but essential training thoughts as you begin your new season at 14/16U.

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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