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Frequently Asked Questions by Coaches,
Players and Parents

Video - "The  Hockey Made Easy Instructional Manual "
with Webmaster Joe Lor and Coach John Shorey

Please take a few minutes to watch the YouTube  " Hockey Is "
Created by Joe Lor and Produced by John Shorey

Learn How to Play Hockey

Hockey Made Easy Guarantees to make you a better coach,
parent teacher and player, or you get your money back!

From Letters: e-Mail John Your Questions

Bill Asks:

Hi John, What do you think of putting a communication device in hockey helmets so that parents can communicate with their son/daughter during games?


This helmet application would first have to receive CSA approval then both Hockey Canada and USA Hockey would have to approve it. This might take at least 5 years to get approval.

I do see a positive application for coaches in AAA, PeeWee, Bantam, and Midget as well as Jr and Professional hockey teams using these devices for offensive and defensive face off strategy as well as possibly other applications. I don't see parents having control of the communications because players must listen to what the coaching staff says.

Thanks for the question .

John Asks:

Hi John, I'm a second year newbie coaching my 17 year old son's house A team. I'm looking for something that addresses how to manage a team of testosterone raging boys!

Last year we were one of the top teams in penalty minutes and suspensions... but these kids are all very good players and can perform like pros at times.

I need to know how to help them enjoy the year and not have to come down hard on them with benching, suspending etc...

Any resource you can recommend would be greatly appreciated by all of us!



Hi John,

Thanks for the question.

Coaching Major Midget house league A team players can be a difficult task.

Based on what you expressed I would do the following.

Once your team is picked I would schedule a team meeting to discuss
realistic and measurable team goals and objectives.

The players need to have constructive input in this matter.

You as coach can guide them in what you want them to do.
Try to eliminate the penalty minutes and game suspensions with
Goals and objectives more positive and demanding like:

1. To win 60% of our regular season games.
2. To score 3 or more goals each game.
3. To give up 3 or less goals every game.
4. To cut down our total penalty minutes per game to 10 minutes or less.
Remember: If you fight too much or take too many major penalties and game misconduct penalties on a regular basis the League will suspend the player and possibly the coach for not controlling his players.

You need to convince your players they are good and capable of winning games without fighting and taking so many penalties.

This will not be easy based on the age of your players but it is worth a try.

Hope this helped.

John Shorey
Hockey Made Easy

Keith Asks:

My son just turned 6 and will be playing mighty-mite house team this upcoming season.  He has been skating about 7 months, gone to hockey summer skates, etc..  There is a crazy emphasis on travel hockey for the Mite level *ages 6-8 at our club.  Is this necessary?  It is very expensive, and he likes soccer, baseball, etc.  You did say that kids between 5-12 should take a seasonal break. 

Does that mean that they shouldn't play travel hockey until later ages? (Age 10 and later)

Won't he still improve playing house and free skating at local pond, etc.?

Would you recommend just playing house hockey until age 10-12 or so, and then if he shows talent, going travel at age 10-12?

House hockey costs about $1500 a season as opposed to $4,500 a year for travel.  I'm a teacher, and wonder if this is worth it. 

What is the latest possible age for my son to play travel hockey and still make his high school team, or have a chance at college, etc. ?  It's too bad hockey is so dependent on money and travel, etc.  At what age does real talent become noticeable?



Hi Keith,

Thanks for your question. 

In my opinion Travel Hockey at a very young age (6-11) is not necessary. 

At Major Pee Wee, age 12, you might want to enrol your son in a Travel program. 

Playing other sports as you mentioned is what I would do. 

He will improve by playing House League and free skating at this young age but not after age 11.

 I would think age 11 and 12 in Pee Wee, talent starts to show its self and when Coaches start scouting for players with talent.

 I believe to make a High School team or a chance for College he must play in a Travel program by age 12 as playing with and against top competition will separate the very good players from the good. 

Travel hockey is very expensive and at a young age 6-8 and 9-11 and House League is just fine during this time period.

 Real Talent becomes noticeable at age 11 and 12.  

The key to becoming a very good player is understanding the skills, systems and strategies of hockey.

 This can be learned at home.

If you don’t have a copy of the “Hockey Made Easy” Instructional Manual  I would suggest you invest in one as it explains all the skills, systems and strategies  required to get ahead.

 Hope this helped.

John Shorey - Author
Hockey Made Easy

Dave Asks:

This reference has been great.  You guys are obviously very knowledgeable so I was wondering if I could ask you a question.  Do you have a good drill to encourage a cross ice pass when moving the puck through the neutral zone?  Our breakouts are working but the kids (Atom Select) are mainly skating up the boards and do not look cross ice for a pass to centre of the far wing.

Thanks again,


We have a number of drills in the complete Hockey Made Easy Instruction Manual. Some deal with criss crossing in the neutral zone on page 78 to avoid a checker and keep on ice balance.

I am sure you can design some drills yourself where the Right Wing passes to the Centre and the Centre passes to the Left wing and vice versa from a clearing/breakout play in the Neutral zone.

I find explanation and demonstration of a drill to be the best as it gives the players a visual idea as to what you would like done and why.

Hope this helped. 

John Shorey

Author – Hockey Made Easy 

Nick Asks:

Good day, My son is a first year Atom and I  noticed that while he skates good, he often falls forward when he makes contact with other players or when he receives a pass. We changed his skates last year thinking that the old blades were the issue and the problem stopped temporarily but it has resurfaced. Some of my kids on the team have similar issues and, in all honesty, I don't know how to remedy it. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Answer: Hi Nick,

Thanks for the e-mail question.

Here is what I believe can help.

When skating think of a 3 legged milk stool.

Your legs need to be about shoulder width apart with your knees bent slightly forward to help keep your balance. Bend slightly at the waist leaning forward but not too far.

Your stick represents the 3rd leg of the stool. Keep it on the ice some of the time for more balance and stability when skating forward.

This is Atom not the NHL so using your stick for balance is OK at this age. As you master the skating forward when shooting, receiving a pass and checking it will become automatic. 

If you bend too far forward you will fall just as you stated.

Find the proper balance between knees bent too much to knees not bent enough.

Also skates shoulder width apart is the key to stability skates too close together will keep you in a tipping/falling situation.

Hope this helped.

John Shorey
Author - "Hockey Made Easy".

Joanne Asks:

Hi, in Merritt we were unable to have a Bantam Rep team, and my son who is second year Bantam Rep, he didn't want to try out for Kamloops Rep teams which I was willing to do the drive and commit the time, anyways, he was asked to try out for the Midget Rep team in Merritt and successfully made it..I'm just worried?  Is he going to lose out on the fun aspect of his Bantam year.  

I think he will grow and get stronger and become a stronger and better player.  He has almost scored…he's taken hits, and given hits…I just need some tips on encouragement…He is always ready two hours before the game, it isn't me pushing him…even for practise, an hour at least.  He seems to think he wont be getting any more break aways for goals…but I think he will, as time goes on he will become a stronger faster player….any tips???

Answer: Hi Joanne,

Playing for the Midget Rep team is going to be great for him.

Playing against older players is going to make him a better player.

He can still have fun here but it is more serious than Midget House League or Bantam Rep team.

Keep supporting and encouraging him, he might turn into a star next season because of this challenge.

John Shorey
Hockey Made Easy

Amy Asks:

Mr.  Shorey,  can  you tell me How To Score More Goals in Youth Hockey?

Thanks, Amy B.

Answer: Hi Amy,

There are a number of skills required to score goals in hockey, but two of the main ones include your positioning on the ice in relation to the net and the puck in the offensive zone.

By that I mean, being close to the net and within 9-10 feet of it, right up to the crease area. This will allow you to jump on rebounds, tip or deflect the shot, screen the goalie and perhaps have a puck deflect in off your body or skate. All legal ways to score goals.

Another positioning tip is to be located off to the side of the far goal post so the current puck carrier can pass the puck to you if they don’t have an opening to the net from their current position.

Many goals are scored from this far post position as the goalie cannot get from the near post to the far post before you shoot the puck into the open net.

Another tip, If the shooter is on the point or the deep slot you must go to the net hard, into the so called dirty areas to be ready for anyone of the above situations to present itself.

The second skill is accurate shooting ability.

This doesn’t mean you have to have the hardest shot but that helps, but it does mean you have to have an accurate shot to hit the open area of the net when presented to you.

If you have the puck and can see an opening into the net, shoot the puck. The shot not taken is a possible goal not scored.

John Shorey – Author “Hockey Made Easy”


Eric Asks:

How can I make a “AAA” Hockey Team?
Thanks, Eric C.

Answer:  Hi Eric,

“AAA” Hockey is considered the best and most competitive program in all Minor and Youth Hockey age groups.

To make a “AAA” team you will require 3 things: an over abundance of basic and advanced hockey skills, lots of free time for you and your parents to attend practice and games, and lots of money to pay for team registration fees, plus over night travel and meals and special tournament fees.

“AAA” Hockey is the most expensive program but also the best if you want to play Junior “A” hockey in Canada or the USA in the near future.

Some of the specific hockey skills would include your physical size and skating ability, shooting and scoring ability, teamwork, defensive play and positive attitude etc. etc.

“AAA” is not easy to make, but if you can make a Team you are on your way to a promising hockey future.

John Shorey – Author “ Hockey Made Easy”


Jimmy Asks:

Hi John,

Can you tell me How To Shoot the Hockey Puck Harder?

Jimmy M.

John Answers

Hi Jimmy,

To shoot the puck harder you need to increase your stick speed when shooting or striking the puck.

Just like in baseball, the increase in bat speed contacting the ball, will send the ball that much faster off the bat.

Whether you’re shooting a wrist shot, back hand shot or a slap shot the speed of the stick blade striking or dragging the puck will increase the velocity of the puck moving toward the net.

Shooting the Wrist shot requires the coordination of a number shooting skills and physical exertion.

Here is what I mean.

1. Control the puck in the middle of your stick blade.
2. Extend both arms full length back to the puck and tilt the blade 45
   degrees over the puck
3. Drag the puck forward quickly using stick speed to increase the puck`s
   velocity forward.
4. Snap your bottom wrist forward and upward as the puck reaches your
   front foot when release it.
5. Follow through to the height you want the puck to sail. High for top corner shots and a low follow through for shots on or just off the ice.

Backhand shots are the same as a wrist shot using just a back hand drag and upward release motion.

Slap shots are a little different.

On your downward swing, you must hit the puck 2-3 inches behind the puck, dragging it forward and follow through to the height you desire the puck to sail.

John Shorey – Author ``Hockey Made Easy``

Pee Wee Coach Bob M. Asks

John, How can I protect a lead late in the game.

John Answers

Hi Bob,

To protect a lead at any level of hockey late in the game or even late in a period I suggest you dump the puck into an open corner if over the Red Line. Do not ice the puck if at all possible.

This way you have the puck out of your end, you`re not icing the puck and you are killing valuable time off the clock.

Send 1 man in to forecheck their puckcarrier and have your wings cover their 2 wingers.

Your 2 defencemen will play any puck carrier either outside the Red Line or if necessary outside your Blue Line.

John Shorey- Author ``Hockey Made Easy``


Mark Asks:

Hi John

Do you have any tips on how to score on a breakaway?


John Answers

Hi Marc,

Whether you’re on a breakaway, taking a penalty shot or a shootout there are just 2 ways to score, either shoot the puck or deke the goalie.

What you do will depend on what the goalie does.

If he/she comes out at you, you can deke and go around the goalie to score.

If the remain deep in their net you can shoot low or high to the corners.

If they come out then retreat to the top of the crease, fake shooting one direction this usually gets then to drop to their knees then go around and score into the far open corner.

John Shorey – Author “Hockey Made Easy”

Theresa Asks:

For too many parents travel hockey seems not to be a game to teach life values, but a way to pay for college. What is your opinion on the trend towards parents putting too much emphasis on hockey at an early age and spending so much time and money on playing year round? It seems to me that often it is more about the parent’s hopes of creating a superstar. At what age should any parent start to really consider whether their child may have the talent to play at a serious level, and can a parent really make their child into a great player? My thought is that just because a kid is really great as a Squirt or Pee Wee that is not a predictor of future success. What is your take on this?

John Answers:

Many parents put too much emphasis on travel hockey at an early age and spend a lot of time and money to have their kids play hockey year round. I believe players between 5 and 12 years of age need a break from hockey just to rejuvenate. They should be playing soccer, Little League baseball, taking up golf, swimming or other activities during the summer months. Attending a summer hockey camp for one week is fine, but playing hockey nearly 12 months of the year is too much.

Many players between 5 and 12 years of age are very good players and some might even score 5 goals a game, but this is not a true predictor of future success. Some will become great Junior players but the majority will not. Parents must realize there is very little forechecking, backchecking or aggressive bodychecking in these younger age groups. Players are competing against players in their own age group, not older or more experienced players. The best skaters and puckhandlers usually dominate until the end of Pee Wee.

The real competition begins in Bantam and Midget hockey, when players are bigger, faster, stronger, meaner and smarter. If child can still dominate in the 13 to 15 year old age groups, parents might start considering their child may have the talent to play serious hockey at the Junior hockey level.

If a player has the size, speed, skill, courage, determination and smarts to play Junior hockey and can hold his own and even excel against bigger 18, 19, 20 and 21 year old players, he has taken a giant step toward playing Junior “A”, or even Major Junior “A” hockey. If the child plays very well in Junior “A” many will be offered a college scholarship.

Regarding whether a parent can really make their child into a great player, my answer might surprise you. Yes, I do believe parents can make their child a great player. They can help guide their children between 5 and 12 years of age. They spend more time with their children than coaches and can explain/teach the basic rules, skills, systems and strategies of hockey. However, the child must be self motivated and want to become the very best hockey player he is able.

Players must understand hockey before they can excel. They can learn from their parents at a young age how and why to forecheck and backcheck, where to be positioned for a clearing/breakout play, how to score and prevent goals and the strategy of the power play and penalty killing. They will be ahead of the competition and potentially on their way to becoming a very good to outstanding hockey player with this knowledge.

As players turn 13 they start to turn a deaf ear to their parents teaching. They need a new hockey voice to take them to the next level. An experienced coach and playing in a competitive “AA” or “AAA” travel league will be required for the future development of their hockey skills. The cream will rise to the top and several will become good junior player. The great ones will have college recruiters knocking on their door.


Shelley asks:

How do you keep your players motivated when the team they play against is at a lower skill level?

John Answers:

This is a good question and something that I have seen happen many, many times in my hockey career. In fact it just happened twice in the league in which I am President. The last place team with a record of 0 wins and 15 straight losses beat the second placed team, twice in two weeks.

Sometimes playing a lower seeded team is more difficult than playing the top team. For some reason, players can’t seem to get motivated to play a specific team or game. I believe this happens because players of the higher seeded team come to the game mentally overconfident.

Secondly, they play down to the level of the lower team instead of playing up to their full skill potential. This is because players physically and mentally take the night off and do not give 100% on every shift. They believe a 50% effort is all that is required to beat the lower seeded team. They take too many offensive and defensive chances, stay out for long shifts, try to do too much stickhandling, or make too many passes trying to score a cute goal instead of burying the puck into the net.

Some players try to pad their scoring statistics against the weaker team and play undisciplined hockey. They hang out by the red line looking for a breakaway pass and won’t backcheck. This type of play backfires on many teams causing them to fall behind early in the game and play catch up hockey – something they may not be used to doing.

Here is the big challenge for coaches. They must convince their players there is no such thing as an easy hockey game. They must prepare a sound game plan for their team no matter where the opposition is in the standings.

The key is to get players back to the basics – the systems, strategy and shifts that got them into the higher seeded position in the first place. This is not easy for the coaches because changing the established thinking of their players requires special coaching skills.

Many players do not believe they are playing a good hockey team. Coaches need to tell players they will fall behind if they do not stick to the game plan. Sometimes this can be accomplished by challenging them to give a 100% effort and follow the game plan or ride the pine for a few shifts.

Coaches should instruct their teams to go back to short shifts – get the puck in deep, forecheck, recover the puck, cycle it if required, pass or carry it into a high percentage scoring location, take the shot on goal and then get off the ice. This should all be done within a 50 second shift.

Make no mistake, playing a lower seeded team is a challenge, and coaches must find the right buttons to push to get each player to play up to his or her potential. However, remember, the goal of youth hockey is having fun, not winning a game 15 to 1. It is important not to embarrass any team by blowing them out of the water.

If a coach finds their team in a blow out position, they should challenge their players to try other positions. Let defensive players try forward and forwards try defense. This will make players realize the different skills required to play other positions and in the end it will make them better hockey players. It will also cut down on the goals scored and keep the game reasonable and fun for both teams.


Travel Hockey Parent asks:

How to deal with problem parents

John Answers:

We received this question from a travel hockey parent asking our advice on "How to Deal with Problem Parents?"

As a background to this question, Youth Hockey parents and players must realize coaching a travel team is much different

than coaching a House League or recreational team where having fun is the number one goal.

Coaching a travel team is serious business as the team must steadily improve and win a specific number of games to make the playoffs.

The coaches and players goal is to finish the regular season as high as possible in the standings in order to secure home ice advantage during the playoffs.

Having fun and skill improvement is still an objective of travel hockey but making the playoffs is the highest goal.

Prior to the start of the season the Head Travel Coach and his assistants should schedule a team Question and Answer meeting with both parents and players.

By doing this, coaches will reduce the possibility of having problem parents by at least 95%.

This information sharing meeting will break the ice and give the coaches a chance to answer everyone's questions and to explain their coaching philosophy,

i.e. winning hockey games or having fun, team goals and objectives for the season, rules and consequences, earned or equal ice time, on and off ice practices,

length of shifts, power play and penalty killing make up, dress code, tournaments they intent to enter this season, cost for the season, etc.

Both parents and players should have the opportunity to ask the coaches questions.

If the parents and players agree with the coach’s philosophy and answers they join the team.

But, if they disagree, they still have the opportunity to gracefully turn down the offer to join the team.

There should be no major surprises for parents or players during the season.

However, having said that, some problems, concerns and situations will arise during the long season, they always do.

The team should have a means in place to address these periodic problems and a private chat after the game or practice with the head coach and the parent

or player should be scheduled to resolve any situation.

An elected or appointed parent liaison person might be the perfect person to set up a meeting or to bring situations to the coach for him/her to address.

Situations must be addressed and solved by the coaches and management of the team as quickly as possible.

If a resolution cannot be found and the player or parent continues to disrupt the team, one course of action for the coach is to bench the player or even suspend him.

This discipline usually gets the positive results the coach is looking for. However, if it does not, and only as a last resort, if the situation is so serious and cannot be resolved, the Head coach may have to release the player for the good of the team.

Parents of the other travel players can try to reason with the problem parent before the situation gets serious.

Sometimes getting another parent's point of view to a hockey problem works wonders.


  1. Should kids play hockey year round?

    I believe kids between 5 and 12 years of age need to get away from hockey during the summer months. They need to rejuvenate and should be playing soccer, Little League baseball, taking up golf, swimming or just having fun. Attending a one week hockey school during the summer is fine but playing hockey year round is a too much.

  2. At what age should parents get serious about their child's hockey ability?

    If players can still dominate and excel at age 13 and older, against bigger, stronger, faster and meaner players, you may have a child who can play serious Junior hockey in Canada or the USA. If they excel in Junior "A" hockey, many will be offered a College scholarship.

  3. If a player excels in the 5 to 12 year old age groups is this a true indication s/he will become a star player?

    Some players in the 5 to 12 year old age groups will score 5 goals a game but this does not necessarily mean they will become a great Junior or professional player. There is very little hitting/checking in these age groups and the best skaters and puck carriers will dominate. However, when body checking, forechecking and backchecking systems are introduced it becomes much more difficult to excel. Some early stars will still dominate but the majority will not.

  4. How to deal with problem Minor/Youth Hockey parents?

    If coaches at the start of the season host a Question and Answer meeting with both the parents and players they will eliminate 95% of many seasonal problems. The parents and players can ask all kinds of questions and will understand where the coaches are coming from and can decide if they want their child to play on this specific team or not.

  5. What is the difference between House League and Rep. Hockey?

    House league or recreational hockey is basically for fun and enjoyment. It is not intended to be a means to Junior "A" or Professional hockey. Representative or Competitive/Travel hockey is for serious hockey players who want to make hockey a career and become a professional hockey player or receive a university scholarship offer.

  6. How do you deal with a puck hog?

    The coach should explain to the puck hog that hockey is a team game and if a teammate is ahead of him and in the clear he should receive the puck via a pass. If the puck hog does not buy into this solution, the coach can

    a. repeat the answer above.
    b. bench the player for a shift or two
    c. as a last resort, tell the players skating ahead of him to intentionally go offside if s/he does not pass the puck

  7. Tryout camp - drills or scrimmage?

    Hi Coach, I will be coaching Squirt Travel Hockey this season. Coach, in your opinion, which is the best way to hold a tryout, by using drills or by having a scrimmage? Do you have any specific drills you like use during tryouts?

    To answer your question, since you are dealing with Squirts, I would use a combination of specific drills at the start of the practice to see who has the basic skills such as skating, carrying the puck, stickhandling, passing, shooting and scoring. Also do some 1 on 1's and 2 on 1's to see which defencemen can play these situations correctly and which forwards can get by them with the puck.

    During the last half of the tryout practice, you must scrimmage to see who can perform under game like playing conditions. Watch for players creativity, teamwork, passing, scoring, checking ability etc.

    I believe there should be at least 2 or possibly 3, 1 hour or 1.5 hour sessions before cuts are made as this gives everyone a fair chance to show their hockey skills. If you cut players after 1 session, players and parents will be angry with you and tell you that you didn't give them enough time to show their skills. If players know they will get a good look, they will be happy even if they end up getting cut.

  8. Do we play too many games and not have enough practices?

    I believe a schedule of 50 to 80 or more games a season with only about 20 practices is not a good ratio for skill development and team play. A ratio of 1 practice for 1 game is ideal but unrealistic. I believe there should be at least 1 on ice or off ice practice of 1 to 2 hours per week to teach basic skills, systems and strategy. Book a gymnasium for 1.5 or 2 hours per week and watch your players skills develop.

    We have so many kids playing Minor Hockey in Canada that the cream will always rise to the top, but its the kids under the cream that need more practice, more information, more teaching in order to get better.

  9. How can a defenceman use his/her body or positioning to ward off offensive players from standing in front of your net?

    You can no longer bump, push, or knock down players standing out of the front of your net if they do not have control of the puck. If you do and get caught you will receive a penalty.

    Defencemen must now position themselves between their goaltender and the opposing player, then either move in front of them to intercept a pass, lift their stick when the puck arrives, or time your bodycheck on them when the puck arrives. Timing is critical.

  10. When I do a hockey stop leading with my right skate everything is good, but when I do a hockey stop leading with my left skate, my right skate stutters along the ice and just drags along, it doesn't sit flush with the ice and dig in, essentially it ends up being a 1 foot hockey stop. Do you have any suggestions?

    It sounds to me like your outside edge of your right skate needs some attention. I suggest you take it to your skate sharpener to see what he or she has to say about the problem. It could be as simple as getting your skates re-sharpened or re-rockered (profiled) to have a uniform and consistent amount
    of blade on the ice at all times.

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