Transition from Non-Checking to Checking Division
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02-26-2008, 07:28 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
My coach, who I was with for both squirt and peewee, told us in our transitional year to "keep your feet moving", rather than "keep your head up", which I always thought was more practical advice. Most people with common sense will keep their head up (except for Tim Connolly), but a lot of kids get flattened when they stop moving their feet and start drifting. It's ten times harder to hit a moving target, even when that target is moving relatively towards you, because you (as the checker) are no longer in control of the pace.
As for advice...
Giving a hit: Emphasize that the stick shouldn't be up, the elbow should be relatively against the body, and that the knee should not be out. Crazy enough, when I was in my only year of peewee, there was a kid in the league playing his 2nd year of peewee who had a habit of knee-to-knee hits, and he apparently was never told by anyone that they're illegal until about halfway through the season. Psychologically, make sure that he doesn't expect to be killing someone with every hit - sometimes the most important hits are just little bumps that are more accurate at the price of power.
Taking a hit: First off, don't develop the "omg you hit me" mentality. Hockey's a physical game and nobody is exempt from being hit. If it happens, shake it off and get back in the play or go to the bench. Of course, if it's an injury, that's a different case. As for the hit itself, try to stay as compact as possible without balling up. A lot of people try to avoid the hit at the last second and end up getting decked even harder because they stretch themselves out and make their body easier to line up.
Vision: Get to know your position and your teammates/linemates. Having a decent idea as to where a teammate might be before receiving a pass can give a player the fraction of a second that the defense can't make up. Talk to linemates on the bench after shifts, without being annoying. Make sure he knows whatever breakout the coach is running, not that many peewee players follow that, but some do.
Other advice to pass on: Defensive positioning is more important than the big hit.
I was going to say something else, but droller already touched on it. "The best thing for him may be to actually get hit hard." I've always thought that the best players have a healthy fear of getting lit up, but aren't afraid of the check. Part of the lesson of getting drilled is that you shouldn't go to location X with your head down, but there's also a lesson to be learned in that you live even when you get decked - don't be so afraid of the hit that you stop going to those areas altogether. Just do it more intelligently next time. Also, make sure that he's skating without the puck. This is something that I find helps develop vision, because the player is able to put into perspective what the rink looks like from various situations, lanes and angles. On top of that, you can't be static in the neutral zone.
So I've rambled a bit... But I hope some of this was useful.
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