How To Coach Youth Ice Hockey

Coaching youth ice hockey can be a rewarding experience. Here are five supporting facts to keep in mind when coaching youth ice hockey:
1. Focus on skill development: Youth hockey players are in the early stages of their development and need to learn and master the basic skills of the game. As a coach, prioritize teaching and reinforcing fundamental skills such as skating, passing, shooting, and stickhandling.

2. Promote a positive and encouraging environment: Youth players thrive in an environment where they feel supported and encouraged. Be sure to provide positive reinforcement, constructive feedback, and motivate them to continually improve. Creating a positive team culture also fosters a love for the game and encourages teamwork.

3. Emphasize teamwork and sportsmanship: Hockey is a team sport, and it’s crucial to instill the values of teamwork and sportsmanship early on. Teach players the importance of working together, communicating effectively, and respecting opponents, coaches, and officials.

4. Incorporate fun and variety into practices: Keep practices engaging and enjoyable to maintain the interest and enthusiasm of young players. Use a mixture of drills, games, and scrimmages to develop skills and create a positive practice experience.

5. Individualize coaching approach: Every young player is unique, with different strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. Take the time to understand each player’s abilities and adapt your coaching style accordingly. Personalized attention helps players feel valued and maximizes their potential.


1. What age should I start coaching youth ice hockey?
It is recommended to start coaching youth ice hockey around the age of 5 or 6. At this age, children are capable of understanding and following basic instructions.

2. What certifications do I need to coach youth ice hockey?
The specific certification requirements vary depending on the location and league. Generally, you will need to complete background checks, complete coaching education programs, and earn a coaching certification to ensure you have the knowledge and skills to coach youth players safely and effectively.

3. How long should practices be for young hockey players?
For younger age groups (5-8 years old), it is ideal to keep practices around 45 minutes to an hour. As the players get older, practices can be gradually extended to 1-1.5 hours for ages 9-12.

4. How can I make practices more engaging for young players?
To make practices more engaging, incorporate small-sided games, skill challenges, and competitions. Use different equipment or modify drills to add variety. Keeping sessions fast-paced and high-energy will help keep players engaged and excited about coming to practice.

5. How do I handle conflicts or behavioral issues among young players?
When addressing conflicts or behavioral issues, it is essential to remain calm, handle situations promptly, and address any issues privately. Talk to the players involved to understand their perspective and use it as a learning opportunity to teach appropriate behavior, respect, and sportsmanship.

6. Can I coach my child’s hockey team?
Yes, it is possible to coach your child’s hockey team. However, it’s essential to establish clear boundaries and treat every player fairly. Avoid showing any form of favoritism and encourage open communication between you as a coach and your child as a player.

7. How can I help young players overcome fear or hesitation on the ice?
To help players overcome fear or hesitation, focus on building their confidence gradually. Start with basic skills and progress in difficulty as they become more comfortable. Encourage positive self-talk, emphasize the importance of effort over outcomes, and provide constant support and encouragement.

BOTTOM LINE: Coaching youth ice hockey requires a focus on skill development, creating a positive environment, promoting teamwork and sportsmanship, keeping practices engaging, and individualizing coaching approaches. By following these guidelines, coaches can help young players develop their skills and love for the game.