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12U Q-and-A: Blast it like Boeser?

01/26/2023, 8:45am MST
By Dan Jablonic

Q: Why can’t my 12U player shoot the puck with any authority?

A: There’s no 12U player who can shoot the puck like Brock Boeser yet, so don’t panic. Most kids just don’t have the combination of shooting technique, physical strength and/or time and space to fire a good, accurate shot consistently. Modern sticks help, but almost every 12U player struggles with getting the puck to the net forcefully. With that said, here are some ways to help 12U players increase their shooting and scoring efficiency.

  • First of all, remind them that it’s not easy to shoot well. It takes extra effort, practice, patience and repetition. The key is to have fun with it and keep working on developing a good shot – both on and off the ice.
  • A quick release is crucial. It’s rare to shoot a puck through a goalie. Typically players score with a quick release and accuracy, not raw power, so it’s important to underhandle and get the puck off your stick quickly.
  • Young players have a tendency to get their hands too close to their body when trying to receive the puck and then shoot. Encourage them to move their hands away from the body. When they’re receiving a pass, especially in the attacking areas, receive the pass with their hands already out in front of their body so they can catch and release it in a single efficient motion.
  • Deception is helpful in goal-scoring. Shoot at unexpected times, shoot to a corner of the net you’re not looking at, use head and shoulder fakes, etc. Learn the element of surprise.
  • Body position is important. Not every pass is in the wheel house, so shooters should be prepared to adjust to the pass. Be quick on your feet, pivot and get the body moving toward the net.
  • Proper timing matters. Know when to move out of traffic and into open space. Don’t be stationary. Always be looking to get open, to create an open passing lane for your teammates, and find the soft spots in the defense. Then work on getting shots through the maze of sticks and bodies.
  • Develop a variety of efficient shooting options, e.g., forehand, slap, snap, wrist, backhand, deflections and capitalizing on rebounds. This will add diversity to the player’s offensive game and give them more opportunities to score, which will increase their level of success and fun.

The author, Dan Jablonic, skated at the University of Minnesota Duluth before playing professionally in the ECHL and Sweden. He began coaching in 2005 and later became hockey director for the Washington Little Caps prior to joining USA Hockey.

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