This thread is about designing practices that work on what actually happens in a game. The three Game Situations;
- Loose Puck
In those Game Situations, Offense and Defense the player has a Game Playing Role.
- Role One; Player has the puck.
- Role Two;Support the puck either one or two passes away.
- Role Three; Closest player angles and checks the puck carrier.
- Role Four; Support the first checker either one or two passes away.
Loose Puck Situation
- Closest player on each team is in a potential Role One or Role Three situation.
- The other players support with the potential to be in either Role Two or Role Four.
The effective coach develops practices that teach the skills required in each of these Situations and Roles along with the good playing habits that allow transtion between these situations and roles. If the players have the required skills and good habits they also need to be in practice situations that simulate actual games so they learn to read the play and anticipate the next play.
What skills are required and how can they be taught in practice situations.
A - Players need to learn to skate first without and then with a puck.
B - Players need to be able to stick handle, shoot, pass, angle, check, take a pass etc.
C - Players need to be adept at 1-1 on offense and defense. They must progress to understanding playing situations from the fundamental 1-1 up to the Team Play 6-5.
D - Players need to practice all of these skills in small area games and full ice games.
E - Goalies must be trained.
DT - Situations from 1-1 to 5-5 should be practiced using only one puck, no whistles and either the offense, the defense or both offense and defense getting either passive, active or a combination of passive and active support from new players.
T - Coaches need controlled scrimmage situations to teach team play.
F - Fitness skating for quicknessand agility or endurance can also be done.
Some things that I have learned from coaching since 1974 at all levels from U6 to Pro both Men and Women in three continents. I am a Physical Education teacher who has experience from First Grade to teaching at College and the principles in a gym class are the same as on the ice.
- Two pucks per player is plenty. Start with many pucks and remove them or start with one puck and add them.
- At the end of a drill or game have the PLAYERS pass the puck where they are needed next. Assistant coaches should be either listening to the key concepts of the next activity or teaching it. It is demeaning for them to simply move pucks - Plus it is important they undersatand what is happening next. They are coaches NOT SERVANTS.
- If you use the whiteboard show a few drills or games and simply give instruction to progress to the next activity.
- Use international symbols when drawing a drill or game and these should be consistent with the IIHF symbols.
- Name you drills and create progressions from the same practice formation.
- Once your players understand where to start from and where to go the coach can add passes, new attackers or defenders, regroups etc. without having to re-organize and explain the flow.
- Stretch and anything else that can be done off ice SHOULD be done off ice. When they step on the ice they should be ready to GO.
- Pucks laying on the ice are dangerous and when stepped on can cause bad injuries. The same with open gates. So keep you work space clean.
- Players get the puck they have missed and not one laying around.
- Insist on good habits during practice.
- Comment only when something is exceptionally good or bad. Don't be irritating background noise. Stop everything if nothing is being accomplished and restart.
- When players are done with pucks then all PLAYERS put them away (unless that is a consequence of losing a contest)
Most Important of All
At the end of practice every player should be a little better than they were at the start of practice and wishing that the practice could last a little longer because they just had a damn good time.
Coaches who want to contribute some more ideas on effective practices are more than welcome to join in.
Next time I will give some examples on how to build routines that save time and use the ice efficiently.