The coach of a competitive atom team has banned his players from taking slap shots.
Once upon a time, way back in the 1970s, no slapshots were permitted in Canadian minor hockey. Any player who raised his stick above the waist on either end of a shot could get a minor penalty.
The rule lasted perhaps a couple of years then was dropped, partly because it was so difficult for officials to call. What happened, for instance, if a kid took a backhand and on the follow-through raised his stick to the rafters?
When curved sticks became the norm, there was a fear that kids’ shots were going to hurt someone because shots were often out of control. Remember, this was long before composite sticks that torque like whips or full-year training regimes.
The idea behind it though was interesting from a teaching perspective. Without the slap shot, what did it force the kids to do? Moreover, how would it change coaching? The year it came in, I was coaching junior and the rule didn’t apply there. But I heard plenty of complaints about it.
So now we hear of a coach who’s banned the shot for his whole team mostly because one of his boys uses it all the time. Quite well, too, I’m told.
He’s the team’s leading scorer with 10 goals in 11 games. No one else on the team has more than three goals. The boy’s father is ticked. How can this coach stop my kid from using a skill he’s darned good at?
Good question. So are these:
- What's the rule’s objective?
- What constitutes a slap shot? Stick at knees, waist or higher? What about a desperate whack at the puck?
- What's the consequence for taking one and why?
- How is it hurting this particular child's play? Is he shooting too much? Missing the net? Not paying attention to teammates because of the intent to take slap shots?
- Was the rule created for the team because of this one boy’s shot?
- Is there a plan to allow slap shots sometime later in the season? Is there a plan at all? If not, why not?
- Has the coach considered allowing it only under certain circumstances? Why/why not?
- Was this done on the fly or communicated to all parents and players early in the season?
In other words, I’m not entirely sure of the coach’s intention here, though I can guess it might be to stop his ace scorer from blasting the puck at every opportunity. Then again, is that a bad thing?
It’s here I reflect on a recent approach with the junior team I was working with. I instituted a little rule in practice that in fact paid off. That’s next week.
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