Youth hockey is all about having fun and about learning some of the important life skills that go along with sports, like respect, leadership, and hard work. However, there will always be those select few players who aren’t just in the game for fun and life experiences. There are always those players
Hands down, the most important skill to hone in any serious-minded young hockey player is skating. Skating is the true foundation of hockey. If a player can’t skate, it doesn’t really matter how well he can do anything else. If you find that the youth player in your life is a weak skater, lacks balance on the ice, or has already developed bad skating habits, it’s worth it to spend some time “getting back to basics.” Spending time focusing on just skating and then slowly incorporating good skating habits in with good playing skills can take a decent player and turn him into a great player in no time flat.
A good hockey player can control the puck, both when it’s in his control and when he’s sending it off across the ice. If your player is struggling with puck handling, its time to get serious with puck handling drills. Many of these drills can be performed both on and off the ice, so getting in some extra practice time at home is definitely possible. Remember, young players learn through repetition, so the more practice time you can give to puck handling and the more times you can repeat the same drills, the better.
Defensive skills are yet another important aspect of playing the game well. Unfortunately, a lot of coaches are of the mindset that these skills can only truly be learned in games. While it’s true that players are their most aggressive and serious about defense during real games, encourage the player in your life to take defense during practice games just as seriously. Also talk about different strategies for breakouts and attacking the offensive with your player. Talk regularly about the pros and cons of different strategies and moves in different scenarios; the goal is to get your player to constantly think like a true defensive asset. If he can think like one, he can become one.
These are just a few of the many skills that are necessary for becoming a strong youth hockey player. Work on these and encourage your player to give every game and practice his all, and you just might end up with a little hockey star on your hands.