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Ultimate Guide to Coaching Youth Hockey

Youth Hockey Rules

The basics of hockey are pretty straightforward. Players score points by hitting the puck into the opposing team's goal, and at the end of the game, the team with the most points wins. Each team has six players on the ice at one time, and the players from each team are divided into offense and defense. The center and wings are the offense, those players trying to score, and the goalie and defense players concentrate on keeping the other team from scoring [source: Winnetka Hockey Club].

The hockey rink is divided into three sections -- two end zones and a neutral zone in the middle -- that are marked by blue lines on the ice. Offensive players must stay behind the puck when they cross into the opposing team's end zone. If a player proceeds ahead of the puck, that player is offsides and the play is dead [source: Winnetka Hockey Club].

A hockey game has three periods, and each period is 20-minutes long. There's a break between periods, which gives the coach the opportunity to communicate with players and discuss strategy [source: Hockey Tribute].

Players receive penalties for various kinds of behavior against other players. When a player serves a penalty, he or she sits out and the team is down one player. A minor penalty lasts for two minutes, and a major penalty lasts for five minutes. When a player is the recipient of certain conduct while in possession of the puck, he or she may get to take a penalty shot. A penalty shot is essentially a "free" shot at the goal, with no players other than the goalie allowed to defend [source: Winnetka Hockey Club]. Additional rules or regulations are at the discretion of your particular league, so be sure to read any manuals you receive and pass the information on to your players.

Once you go over the rules of hockey with your team, you're ready to teach them essential skills of the game. For more information on hockey skills, read on.