Open up Passing Options by Crossing Through Lanes

When I was a kid, my first coach (NOT MY DAD) took me a side one day, and drew two lines down the middle of a rink diagram. He then taught me that “the right winger stays on the right side, the left winger stays on the left side, and that the centerman mostly stays in the middle, but can help out if a winger needs him…”

HOW FAR THE GAME HAS COME SINCE THEN!!!

Today’s hockey is much more dynamic, with players interchanging positions constantly––especially in the offensive zone. I like this more “European” style of play, and I think it is much more effective at opening up passing options and scoring chances.

My general philosophy is to let structured, positional assignments govern defensive zone play, and concepts such as timing, support, and triangulation govern neutral and offensive zone play. This allows forwards to be creative within a framework in the offensive zone.

Enjoy!

Philosophy: When to Start Teaching Hockey Systems?




How early can youngsters be taught to play “systems hockey”?

Many people have varying opinions on the correct answer to this question… and, as is often the case with philosophical hockey questions, there is more than one correct answer. The answer depends on the physical skills of your players, the mental maturity of your players, and the manner in which the systems are taught and implemented. In this video, I discuss my own personal opinions on the matter, and why I believe what I believe.

When I was 8 years old, my dad had this idea of taking the top-caliber kids from around the city, and keeping essentially the same kids together for 5 years. The end goal of his vision was to win an Ontario Championship at the “AAA” level.

As 8-year-olds, we were taught to play systems hockey based on a “color-coded” breakout set-up. Our individual skills were advanced enough that we were able to complete the patterns of a structured breakout system, even though we weren’t quite ready to read the play ourselves. So, my dad gave each breakout option a color, and he would read the pressure and call out the play from the bench. We would hear it, and react accordingly. As we got older, we were taught to read the play for ourselves and make our own decisions.

This color-coded breakout system allowed us to learn “systems hockey” years before other teams in our league. I mention a few of our team’s successes in the video.

WARNING: Do not let systems and positional development rob individual skill development. They can both be developed simultaneously if practices are structured correctly.

ENJOY!