How to Handle a Player Who Won’t Pass
A: A coach will almost always have to deal with a player or two who will not move the puck. When dealing with younger players (U8 and U10), try the following:
- Use the teaching terms “puck movement” and “head man the puck.” These terms are imperative.
- Demonstrate and emphasize to all players that nobody can outskate a pass. The other team, however, sure has the possibility of catching a player who does not pass.
- Stress that holding the puck too long makes it easy on the defender.
- Sit with the player at the rink and watch a game together. Point out examples of good puck movement and poor puck movement.
- Review video with the team and show players the different results when passing and not passing the puck.
As you get to the U12, U14, U16 and U18 levels, be stern while continuing to stress the importance of teamwork and moving the puck. Try the following, in order:
- If a player at this age does not pass, the greatest card a coach holds is playing time.
- If it reaches a point where the player just will not listen, the coach must take away ice time.
- If that does not eventually work, have that player watch a game from the stands and write a paragraph or two on why it is important to pass the puck.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Angelo Ricci for sharing his 15 years of expertise as a hockey director in this article. Ricci is founder, head instructor and consultant for Ricci Hockey Consulting. With 20+ years experience as a skills and stickhandling coach, he conducts/oversees more than 40 programs year-round that develop over 1,000 players each year.
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