Making Plays vs. Playing It Safe
“Get It Out!” and “Go Deep!” are phrases that indicate safe hockey is in play. Again, these seem like good things, but in fact can stifle players:
- We have to allow kids the opportunity to try to make plays rather than always taking the safest route.
- We have to allow the game to become the teacher.
- Kids will learn through the playing experience how to make proper decisions with and without the puck.
I ask myself the question, “What would the player do if he or she were playing on the pond away from the watchful eye of coaches and parents?” I know that coaches are well intentioned when trying to teach the game of hockey to kids. I believe, however, that we have to be conscious of the safe hockey phenomenon and try to allow the kids every opportunity to develop the necessary puck skills that will give them a chance to succeed at the higher levels.
Make plays, don’t play it safe—but do keep your head up and keep your body safe. It’s a great day for hockey!
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Mike Sullivan for this story. Sullivan is a professional hockey player and coach who co-founded flexxCOACH, which provides coaching education programs.
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