Hockey coaches are always looking for ways to improve practices. Here are 5 quick tips to help make practices more effective:
1) Plan Your Practice in Advance – Know what you want to accomplish, write it out, and distribute the plan to your assistant coaches (and even players if appropriate). Make sure your assistants know the key points you’re trying to teach with each drill.
2) Keep Players Moving – Take a good look at your practice plan and ensure you’ve got enough players moving to keep them focused. A good rule-of-thumb is to have at least 3 kids in motion at a time (assuming a regular 15-person team) per drill. The less time you force them to stand around in line, the less likely they are to be messing around and not paying attention.
3) Use Small Area Games – Small Area Games are a great way to simulate game-scenarios in a confined space at a high-tempo. It also forces players to compete. This can do wonders for coaches struggling to get their players more aggressive. Here’s a free e-book from HockeyShare titled 5-High Tempo Small Area Games.
4) Minimize Whiteboard Time – Use a fair number of drills each session the players already know. This prevents precious ice time from being used explaining drills. To keep drills fresh, add small modifications to “regular” drills to focus on areas your team needs work.
5) Move On – If players aren’t getting a drill, or executing it to your liking, stick to your practice plan and move on. Spending extra time on a drill that isn’t working will only lead to frustration and further failure to accomplish the goals you’ve set for practice. If the players aren’t “getting it,” re-evaluate the drill after practice and try it again another time (perhaps a slightly modified version if it was too complex).