Systems and structured play have their place in almost all levels of hockey. However, they cannot dominate the game, especially at the youth level. First, teaching systems to most kids under 14 or even 16 is like herding cats. Second, it removes the fun and creativity from the game, hurting the players development as they age.
My team has a “system” or as we normally call it a “process” or a “structure.” Some basic rules to try and follow on the ice. Don’t go into the corners in the offensive zone, tighten up and make the ice small for the puck carrier in the defensive zone, and have some ideas on the best way to break out a puck and get through the neutral zone.
Yet, anyone who has seen a youth hockey game would laugh if a coach told them they had a system in play. Instead, we teach these systems as a form of structure to give them some knowledge of where to start, what to do if they find themselves in trouble, and give them some confidence.
After that, we want them to get creative. While creativity means they have to come up with these ideas on their own, we can certainly practice some drills that help foster the creative mindset.
2v2 with 2 Bumpers
This first drill is a modification of the 2v2 Low with Bumper, this time using 2 coaches to force the players to look around just a little more.
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