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10U Q-and-A: Chasing the wrong goal

11/29/2017, 4:00pm MST
By Rich Hansen, USA Hockey ADM Regional Manager

Q: I’m a parent who also coaches my child’s 10U team, and at a recent CEP class, the instructor said we should never play “dump-and-chase” hockey at the youth level. I’ve won many games coaching with a dump-and-chase approach, so why should I abandon it?

A: You should abandon that style of play because winning 10U games isn’t the primary goal and playing dump-and-chase limits skill development during a key stage in a player’s growth. At that age, the emphasis should be on individual skill development instead.

Sure, 10-year-olds will make a ton of mistakes. And you could instruct your players to never take risks, never try a skill play and never handle the puck in the defensive zone. And yes, you could capitalize on mistakes by simply dumping the puck into the opposition zone at every opportunity and then pouncing on misplays to win games. But this type of approach would be done largely at the expense of your players’ development, creativity, and confidence. How do you expect your players to be prepared for the next level if they’re taught at the younger ages to simply get rid of the puck and then go chase it? And how would that help them in the quest to realize their full long-term potential?

Wins at 10U should never take precedence over skill development. Allowing your players to handle the puck and make plays, especially at the youth levels, will instill confidence, build skills and prepare them for the next stages of their career. Plus, winning games and developing skills isn’t mutually exclusive. In fact, developing your players is the best way to win games, and certainly the most satisfying way to win games.

If you look at today’s game at the highest level, you will notice that it is a puck-possession game. Teams that control the play and the puck usually win the game. By teaching your players to possess the puck and make plays, you can enjoy the same kind of success while also creating a more fun, engaging and developmental environment for your players.

The author, Rich Hansen, played four seasons of NCAA hockey at Mercyhurst College, amassing 127 points before embarking on a six-season playing career in the professional hockey ranks.

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