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Teaching Hockey to Kids...

Having been spending quite a bit of time coaching hockey in Primary Schools this term, I just wanted to pass on my absolute number one piece of advice to anyone who ever coaches hockey to children in this age group.


I'm not a hockey expert but have taught hockey a lot over the last 10 years. The grip is important in any bat, stick, racket sport but none more so than in Hockey.

Generally when teaching hockey with this age group, you will probably be using the plastic uni-hoc sticks. These sticks are great because they are light weight and made of plastic so therefore less likely to cause any injury more severe than a bump or graze. However, the dangers can be increased significantly if using the sticks with the wrong grip.


FIRST: Get everyone to pick up the stick RIGHT HANDED!! The problem with the plastic hockey sticks is that the head of the stick is flat on both sides and can therefore be used to strike the ball with either side. This means that children who prefer to use a left handed grip in other sports will choose to pick the stick up in a left handed grip. So, before they can do so, teach them the right handed way. It will take a bit of getting used to but just do it!

This is crucial in keeping everyone safe. I've seen several coaches in the past allow children to use the 'left-handed' grip. If you do this, you are putting every child on the pitches safety in jeopardy. You should bare in mind that all Hockey is played with the left hand above the right hand on the stick for exactly that reason. The reason it is so dangerous is that the follow through of a right handed player striking the ball would go directly into the body of a left handed player attempting to strike the same ball from the opposite direction and vise versa. Two right handed players doing the same thing avoid contact with the other player.

ADVICE: When children first come to a hockey lesson, lay the stick on the floor and give them an easy to follow demonstration on how to pick the stick up. Get all of the children to line up and demonstrate how to hold the stick. If any of them have picked up the stick in a left handed grip, get them to put the stick back down and to try again. Continue to do this until everyone in the group/class can pick it up in a right handed way. You'll be surprised how many attempts it takes but it is absolutely worth it. Even when this is done, some children will still require a little bit of monitoring when performing skills to ensure that they are practicing with the correct grip. It's pedantic but remember, each time you do it you are strengthening their neural pathway and increasing their chances of getting it automatically with each correct attempt.

Finally, the other benefit of doing this is that the child doesn't have to relearn the game when they get to middle school and start using wooden sticks where they are forced to use the right handed method. This is a massive problem for any child as you can imagine, so get them doing it right as early as possible!

Having done this in a pedantic manor over several sessions and years, the number of injuries during hockey sessions has fallen dramaticaly. There are still the occasional bumps and grazes as is the nature of the sport but on the whole is a far safer environment and enjoyable environment for children to learn the sport and less work for the schools first aider!

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