Q: Whose puck is it at 8U?
A: It’s vitally important for 8U players to have a puck on their stick frequently to work on stickhandling, passing and receiving, and the overall feel of puck control. This is a critical element of skill development for this age group. However, there’s another puck skill that shouldn’t be overlooked. As coaches and parents, it’s also important to emphasize the skill of puck retrieval and puck protection. Even at this early age, it’s very beneficial for players to learn that there is one puck used in games, and if they want to play with it, they need to develop the ability and hunger to race to a puck, compete for the puck, and ultimately, protect it from the opposition. It’s important for coaches at 8U to promote puck races and puck competitions for young players to learn this necessary skill. Doing this will also help young players begin developing their understanding of proper body contact and body positioning in competitions for loose pucks. It’s the age-appropriate first stage of body contact skill development.
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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