Coaches: How to make practice more efficient. Part 2 of 2

Posted by Eric Hofmann on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 Under: Hockey
Coaches:  How to make your practices more efficient. Part 2 of 2.

So you’ve already read our first installment of tips to running a more efficient practice and in this article, we will continue to add a few more tips around that concept.  With ice slots being at a premium nowadays and so much to cover and so little time, having a buttoned down approach and structured practice will make a huge difference for every team.

Tip #1 – Use your assistant coaches.  At the youth level many assistant coaches are player’s parents who volunteer to coach.  They may not know the finer points of the game, but they are willing to volunteer their time and help you with developing the team on the ice so use them as much as you can.  If you run a station based practice, make sure you tell the assistant what the main point of emphasis they should be teaching is and making sure that it is being done correctly.  If you are running a full ice drill, put the coaches in spots where they can motivate or remind kids to be in a good ready position (knees bent).  Have them watch for certain technique or mechanical things that are bad habits that can be correct.  
Examples are maybe your shooters are veering away from the net on their shots, or they are opening up their outside shoulder when they shoot instead of staying low and following through.  Maybe you are working with your defensemen on Mohawk pivots, so send an assistant over to make sure the player is lifting both their feet and not just keeping their feet on the ice and spinning.  If they notice something, then let them explain it to the player what they need to fix.  This not only gives you an extra set of eyes on the ice to help fix bad habits and improve skills, but also doesn’t make people feel like they’re just there to push pucks around.

Tip #2 – Combine different skills into one drill.  Combining different skills, and making a point of emphasis to focus on them, during a drill can basically “kill two birds with one stone”.  Take a simple give and go drill for example.  Most of the time you see the skater start with the puck, make a pass, and then skate to the open space to get it back and shoot.  Why not add another element (bearing all the proper mechanics and techniques are still being reinforced) to this drill that could be worked on as well?  Maybe have a coach stand 5 feet in front of the skater and the skater needs to make a good first pass and then use their inside edges and be on their toes so they can accelerate around the coach (acting as a defender) and receive the puck in full stride.  You can almost always add focused acceleration to any drill.  Another example is having players stand 10 feet apart from a partner and have them give and receive flat passes.  After 20 seconds, on your whistle whoever has the puck must now use their body to protect the puck in a small area and play keep away from their partner.  After 10 seconds blow your whistle and go back to passing, but maybe this time its back hand passing. Then whistle again for keep away.  Then add maybe one touch passing, or saucer passing.   

Tip #3 -  Be creative with your end of practice “conditioning”.  Most coaches save the final 10 minutes or so for team conditioning.  Typically, you see the old “60 second drill” or “Michigan Mile”.  For older kids, sure it might make sense especially during preseason skates, but why not make it feel more like game related training instead of just pure “conditioning” such as adding high intensity or over-speed races instead?  Incorporate certain skating skills into a race format where 2 or 3 players have to go against each other performing the certain skating elements and having a coach toss a puck out to them.  Maybe they need to pivot forwards and backwards around 2 tires.  Maybe they need to work on their cross over and unders so you send them from the blue line and they have to skate the center ice face-off circle and go shoot on the other end.  Not only are you getting the “conditioning” you want, because you’re sending players every 5-10 seconds but you are also allowing the skaters to do so in a fun but competitive atmosphere where the mechanics and technique are being used in a game like speed situation and they are possibly rewarded (breakaway, shot on goal) for their hard work.  Your players will no longer dread the final portion of practice and will still be getting the same work out, but through a different style.     

Adding any of these tips to your practice preparations and plans not only will help develop the players, but also allow you to run a more efficient practice.

In : Hockey 


Tags: hockey  practice  drills 
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