My brother is a 6'3" 220 lb defenseman in a pretty competitive high school hockey league. His team is 12-2-3. He is one of the top 4 defenseman and gets a solid amount of playing time mostly at even strength and on the PK. Overall he has decent hockey skills as he's been playing since he was 5, he's a decent skater for his size, he makes good outlet passes, he is solid positionally in his own end, and he makes some nice holds and gets some decent shots off from the point. He has 2 goals and 7 assists this year with very limited power play time.
My biggest gripe about his game is not that he shies away from physical play, because he doesn't...I honestly don't think it rattles him or anything. My complaint is that doesn't initiate physical play against kids who go wide or behind the net on him. Instead of playing the body he almost always (90%) of the time will continue to play the puck.
A player will be coming down the wing on a 2 on 2 and he will seal him off and force him wide right along the boards but instead of finishing the play with a nice solid check he is still trying to jab at the puck. A lot of times this works but other times he looks bad because he didn't take an aggressive enough approach on the play.
We have a very close relationship and we have no issues discussing a game...what he did well, what he could do better, etc...My way of talking to him about this has proven to be ineffective.
His unwillingness to get a little bit more aggressive along the boards and in the corners has gotten to a point where it is a detriment to his overall game particularly against the elite players in the league.
Should I just accept that he is soft and he is going to be soft or is there some other way I can get this through his head?
It's just so frustrating watching this 6'3" 220 lb kid that is bigger than 95% of the league who could be a lockdown, mean, tough defenseman that still actually has some puck moving ability play like he is Tobias Enstrom or something.
Has he always been a lot bigger than the other kids? Reason I ask is that I have seen this with a few kids who got into that habit when they were young and much bigger than the other kids and either didn't want to hurt them or got penalties for being physical with much smaller kids. It's a hard habit to break after the kids start to catch up in size (like in high school). If that's the case then maybe he doesn't even know that he is doing it and just needs to be convinced that it's ok to play physically now that the size difference has deminished.
If he doesn't play physical because he doesn't want to then that is a tough thing to get a guy to do. Lots of guys either have it or they don't.
Sometimes playing overly aggresive can cause you to lose your position and get caught. I was always taught let the player skate where ever he wants as long as you're between your man and the nearest goal post, you're doing your job.
Breakdown NHL games and plays with him. Find an example of what he does during his games in an NHL game and show him. Then find a good example and show him.
Does he ever watch videos of himself? Maybe he doesnt know or has on-ice decision issues.
I'd also look at putting him through another checking clinic. Some instructors may be able to explain it too him. That's something a High School coach should be able to teach a kid pretty quickly, but it doesnt seem to be addressed.