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SolarWind

Coaching 5-6 years old: teaching the game

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I've gone through 12 years of hockey with my eldest, and now starting the journey again with my youngest so I realized that I never figured out what is the appropriate level of guidance for 5-6 years old when it comes to teaching the game itself?

When we run scrimmages they are extremely unstructured since it's the first year of organized hockey for more players, and majority are still just getting basics of skating/stickhandling so there is definitely zero awareness of any positioning or team play. As a result there is quite a discrepancy in the skill level between players since some of them had a head start while others just learning to skate. During a scrimmage with the exception of few timid outliers who are just doing their own thing, the rest of the 'pack' is usually chasing the puck. Once they all converge on it usually it results in a pile up, and most of the time one of the players just whacks the pack and it flies away in some random direction followed by the puck. This makes it really tough to 'read the game' for anyone due to pretty high degree of randomness to it. Players tend to fight for the puck even on the same team and passing is non-existent. 

Apparently this makes it quite frustrating for stronger players since unless they get to the puck ahead of the 'pack' and manage to skate in the open, or the puck just happens to pop to them, they really struggle to create any plays because puck movements are not very predictable and threats are abundant while the support is scarce.

Anyone who coached younger players must have observed it so the description of the chaos above is probably redundant. LOL

So my question is - what Individual guidance/instructions/strategy can we provide to stronger players to help them with their frustration?

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Depends first on the size of the organization.  We picked a large org because they had enough teams for red, white, and blue adm.  they have in-house up to 14 years old with multiple divisions by skill level.  If that isn’t possible then at least divide them into like skill groups for practice.  It’s also not linear, kids progress very differently, two months from now the pecking order could be very different.

At the end of the day, for 5-6 year olds games aren’t really important, nor is structure.  They play to learn, not learn to play so to speak.

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Probably the best short answer is to sign up for a level 1 USA Hockey coaches clinic and do the U6 age specific module. The modules are $10 and will give 3 or 4 hours of age specific guidance on the topics that will help you.

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9 hours ago, clarkiestooth said:

Probably the best short answer is to sign up for a level 1 USA Hockey coaches clinic and do the U6 age specific module. The modules are $10 and will give 3 or 4 hours of age specific guidance on the topics that will help you.

Great idea, but I failed before I got going: "All coaches must be registered members of USA Hockey".

 

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10 minutes ago, shoot_the_goalie said:

Not to sound critical, but if a 5-6 year old kid is getting frustrated because he/she is a stronger player than the rest of the group...something has already gone wrong.  

Not necessarily, when hockey is played like tennis it can be very frustrating for anyone! 

Somehow almost every kid feels compelled to whack the pack as soon as they get in contact with it sending in a random direction. Work in progress… 

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