Puck Possession and Finding Open Lanes

Dan Arel

Dan Arel is the Director of Coaching Education and Development for the San Diego Oilers and head coach of their 12U A team. He was also named the 2020 San Diego Gulls Foundation's Coach of the Year. You can email him at [email protected]

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This article highlights why possession matters, and why keeping your head up and finding those lanes generates better chances than simply throwing the puck at the net.
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At the 10U level I coach, but even at 12U (depending on the level) teaching special teams is fairly frowned upon under the American Development Model that USA Hockey utilizes. For the most part, it’s for good reason.

At these ages, you shouldn’t be focused on incredible power plays or penalty kills, but instead focusing on their puck possession, and ability to control a breakout. This is one reason I personally support the no-icing rule for short-handed teams at the youth level.

But special teams can make or break games, and while the focus at these ages is development, keeping kids and parents coming back also takes a little winning as well. To continue to ensure we are developing players, but also giving ourselves a winning chance when we can, this article focuses on puck possession. In this drill specifically, its possession coupled with passing and shooting lanes. This works even strength, it works short-handed, and it especially works on the power play.

In this drill, we put four tires or cones inside the circle. You can make the square larger or smaller depending on the challenge you want to create.

This article highlights why possession matters, and why keeping your head up and finding those lanes generates better chances than simply throwing the puck at the net . . .

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