In the soon-to-be-released hockey film The Break Out, Coach Harry Lindenheffer expresses frustration at his team’s inability to exit their zone. In one scene at a practice, he spends 25 minutes trying to get his wingers to stand in a spot and wait for a pass while the defenceman retrieves the puck. They sort of get it, till Coach Harry throws in a forechecker at which time the break out doesn’t happen. Never mind that most of the kids can’t turn.
The title, by the way, refers to this coach of nine year olds showing them how to “break out” of their childhood ways on the ice and transform them into a regional youth hockey power, mostly on the strength of their zone break out.
I’m producing and directing the film myself. It’s running time will be about 12 seconds, which parallels the total time in a game that a minor hockey team executes a designed and practiced break out. Hopefully some CGI graphics can make it look like the puck gets to where it’s supposed to go. I’ve contacted Al Pacino to play the lead. No response yet.
Nonsense? Exaggeration? Not really. Coaches seem stuck on teaching one tactic: break outs. It takes preference over angling, stick checking, triangulation, support, and others.
A friend of mine, an experienced elite coach, also coaches his own kids in house league. He maintains that kids do need to learn the game and certainly have to be able to get out of their zone. But, he correctly adds, set break outs with stationary players and patterns don’t happen and shouldn’t be taught for years.
I get frustrated watching coaches get frustrated. I’m frustrated just writing about it.
I once saw a novice house league coach spend 15 minutes on a drill where Kid A had to retrieve the puck and pass to Kid B who was told to stand on the nearest hash mark. As one could imagine (and predict), Kid A did not know how to turn, let alone pick up the puck and face Kid B. When Kid A did manage to swivel, the pass went, shall I say, awry. Meanwhile Kid B, who hadn’t yet learned to put his stick on the ice, waited for a pass that sort of arrived in the same time zone. Exasperated, the coach went on to something else.
It would seem obvious that the ability to look, dig out a puck, do a tight turn with it and manage a single pass anywhere is the foundation of a break out. The proper timing of, say, a winger curling to the boards and opening up for the pass would be the next stage.
The good news about my film is that it’s set up for an endless list of comic and dramatic sequels.
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