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Learn to Play FAQ

Drills and Skills at Shoreline Sharks Learn to Play Clinic

Click here to learn more about our 2022-2023 Learn to Play Sand Sharks and Junior Sharks Clinics.


(Updated 8-5-2021)


Does my child need to know how to skate or play hockey?
Skating experience is not required! Our program is designed for participants at all skill levels.

We expect a range of abilities and group the players on the ice during a session by skill level to ensure they are engaged, developing, and having fun.

What age does my child need to be to participate?
Our Sand Sharks program allows children as young as 4 years old to participate. Knowing their attention span, we always leave the door to the rink open should they need a break. We’ve added a Junior Sharks program for girls ages 12 - 19 that might want to try the sport and/or potentially play in high school. After all, it’s NEVER too late to learn to play hockey!

Are the Junior Sharks and Sand Sharks Clinics the same?
The clinics are run separately as the curriculum and coaching staff are different. Knowing that the attention span, the pace of learning, overall coordination, and goals are very different for a 5- year-old than a 12-year-old, our clinics are designed to be age-appropriate while retaining fluidity to adjust to the participant’s individual needs.

Is there goalie training included in the clinic?
We don’t train goalies in this clinic or have goalies in the net during the drills. However, we do schedule goalie training dates to give girls the chance to learn more about the position. We believe it is important to master the fundamentals before specializing in a position. If your daughter is interested in playing goalie, please let us know at

Does my child have to join USA Hockey? 
All clinic papers must have a USA Hockey membership to participate as it serves as our insurance.  The organization is a great resource for information - from how to dress a hockey player to off-ice training ideas.  Here is a link to the membership benefits page. 


Who are the instructors?
A team of seasoned coaches leads the clinics with years of experience ranging from playing youth, high school, and collegiate hockey.  

Are the coaches trained?
All of our adult coaches are certified annually through the USA Hockey Coaching Education Program. Additionally, they must pass a background screening and complete USA Hockey’s SafeSport Training.

I played hockey. Can I become a coach?
We appreciate and value parent coach volunteers. All coaches are required to submit a coaching application and have the appropriate certifications. Positions will be filled based upon availability, experience, and overall fit. Fill our coaching application and contact the Clinic Director for more information.


Where can I buy the equipment?
Bensen-Ferguson Hockey and Lacrosse in Orange and Hamden Sport Center (HSC) with locations in Northford and Hamden can outfit our Learn to Play participants. Both retailers have knowledgeable staff members that can help with fit and ensure you have the appropriate (and most cost-effective) equipment. Please note the Northford HSC location only inventories new equipment.

Can I get an equipment discount?
Bensen Ferguson offers a standardized starter-level package with new equipment for youth and juniors (no substitutions). They are also happy to create a custom package that incorporates a mix of new and used equipment that is priced based on choice and quality. Bensen Ferguson offers a 30-day return policy for USED equipment.  Click here to see the Bensen Ferguson flyer.

Hamden Sport Center (HSC) offers a percentage discount based on the amount of money spent on new or used equipment. Their used equipment is in the Hamden store.  Click here to see the HSC flyer. 

What equipment is needed, and how much will it cost?
Equipment is an essential and necessary part of the sport, impacting comfort, performance, safety, and fun. Borrowing or buying used equipment is an excellent way to save money while your child tries the sport. Please note that all registered participants will receive a complimentary Shoreline Sharks practice jersey.

Below is a list of the required equipment and expected cost (of course, choices between new, used, and overall quality will impact the price):

Estimated Cost
Ages 4 - 11:  $200 - $400
Ages 12+:  $400 - $600

Hockey Equipment List 
• helmet
• gloves
• shoulder pads
• pants (padded hockey shorts)
• shin & elbow pads
• socks
• skates
• stick (straight blade for beginning Sand Sharks)

Here are a few equipment suggestions:
We recommend high-quality used skates over lower-quality new skates. Purchase hockey-specific equipment.  Bike helmets, winter mittens, figure skates, etc., will be allowed only in our LTS program.

If you borrow equipment from neighbors or friends, be sure to bring it with you to either retailer. They can inspect the quality to ensure it fits and fill in the gaps from the equipment list. Be sure to mention you are with the Shoreline Sharks to ensure you get the package or discount.

We are new to hockey; how do we dress our child?
This USA Hockey video: How to Dress a Hockey Player provides an excellent overview! Additionally, the staff at HSC or Whitie Bensen can help.

Where do we put on the gear?
Each week, locker rooms are designated for the clinic (check the TV monitor on the way into the rink). Our locker room policies comply with USA Hockey SafeSport guidelines. 

SandSharks: We recommend you bring younger children mostly dressed, so they are just putting on pads, helmets, and skates at the rink. You are welcome to tie skates and put on shin and elbow pads in the lobby, inside the rink, or in the locker room.  Note: the locker room door must ALWAYS remain open.

Junior Sharks: Based on USA Hockey rules, only females are allowed in the Junior Shark locker room. A few female volunteers will be in the locker room to help the girls. Males are welcome to help their child outside the dressing room with equipment and skate tying. Note:  The locker room door must ALWAYS remain closed. 


What time should I arrive at the rink?
Because we ALWAYS start and end on-time (unless there is a rink issue), we suggest that you arrive 20 minutes early to allow time to tie skates and finishing dressing your child. We would hate for your child to miss any of the on-ice activities!

Who do I call if we are going to miss a session and are there makeup sessions?
We use an online calendar system and you will be notified electronically of each session allowing you to RSVP.  Please utilize this system. We do not hold makeup sessions. Skill development is cumulative, so try and attend as regularly as you can!

Can I run errands during the clinic?
We recommend Sand Sharks parents stay in the rink for the benefit of your child and to ensure it is a positive experience for all.

Can I go onto the ice if my child wants me?
Only certified coaches and registered players are allowed on the ice due to liability. The rink door will remain open should your child want or need to take a break. Those interested in coaching should contact the Clinic Manager.

If my daughter plays on a team, can she also do the clinic?
The clinic is the perfect environment for newcomers to hockey to work on their skills even if they are currently playing on a team. Our coaches focus on basic hockey skills including puck control, passing, and shooting. The clinic is NOT targeted toward experienced players.


Will I be able to join a hockey team at the end of the clinic?
Many of our current travel players started in our hockey development program. Our clinic objective is for girls to transition to team play (and have fun, of course!). Depending upon age and ability, it is not unusual for girls to participate in the clinic for multiple years until they build the appropriate skill base for travel hockey. However, at the end of the clinic, our coaches can provide an assessment of readiness for team play for the following year.

What are the top things that can be done outside the clinic to improve?
1. Take a power skating camp or clinic.

Typically, these clinics travel to local rinks throughout the year. The focus is on proper skating technique, which allows many aspects of the game to become possible and will accelerate improvement. Here are two that come to our area:

2. Join a House League
House League provides cross-ice gameplay in a development-based environment. Shortening the rink may seem like it is for little kids but in actuality, it radically increases your opportunities or “touches” with the puck and in the play. The touches and speed allow players to see how quickly the game is played and concentrate on practicing with their “hockey head.” This can also be done on ponds and pickup games.

3. Do simple off-ice drills at home.
• Stickhandle a golf ball, a tennis ball, and a street hockey puck. Practice looking up and muscle memory the feel of the stick.
• Shoot a hundred pucks off a slick surface. This increases accuracy and power. Shoot low and lifting. Practice wrist shots, snap shots, chip shots, and backhands. Give the player 10 pucks as a gift and have them shoot 10 times at a target.

More questions? Email us at