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My goal for this site is for coaches from around the world to share ideas on coaching every level from youth to pro.

I encourage coaches to actively participate and help each other be better coaches.

The topic is How to Improve Practice

I will post some things I have seen and would love to read other effective and practical ways to make practice better.


'The Game is the Greatest Coach'
'Enjoy the Game'
   
Admin
Registered: 06/25/08
Posts: 3122
Location: Calgary, Canada
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I have seen some really good ideas on how to improve drills and games in practice over the last few years. Here are some of them.

Shooting drills:
- Players have stayed in to screen for the next shooter for a long time. Now instead they follow the shot for a rebound and then circle back to the top of the circle and time it so that they are looking for the rebound on the next shot in the drill. This works on scoring on rebounds as well as the goalie controlling rebounds.
- Add a pass to the goal line with the last shooter now exchanging the puck with the next shooter. It isn't a one time shot (though it could be) but take the pass in the sweet spot and shoot without dusting it off stickhandling.

Eliminate Whistles:
- Example of this is in the C3-B600, 2 on 1 - Pro drill I posted yesterday. The players in line have to watch when the last play is made by the players ahead of them and then leave. In that drill either line can leave depending on when the group ahead of them is done.

Finishing Rushes:
- Instead of doing a 2 on 1 etc. and getting out of the way for the next group the play is finished by the attackers going for the rebound. Have a coach or a player mirror the play from the top of the circles for the defender to pass to if they break up the play. A goal or frozen puck ends the play as well. Most goals are scored on rebounds and off cycles after winning a loose puck battle. Allowing rushes to be completed makes them much more game like and the players practice the most important skills in the game. 'Games are won and lost in the War Zone in front of the net and not is the neutral zone where most of our drills are focused.

One Puck at a Time:
- In games only have one puck in the playing area at a time. i.e. on a cross ice 3 on 3 the team with the puck either leave it or pass to a teammate coming on instead of the coach firing in a new puck every whistle. This completes the play and also makes it much safer by eliminating the danger of players getting injured stepping on loose pucks.

Create Situations where the Players Need to Read the Play:
- Coaches can send out 1-2 or 3 players at a time instead of the same amount. The opposition doesn't know beforehand and has to read the game situation and solve the problem and if he is with a partner 'they must communicate in order to co-operate.'

Moving Pucks and Preparing for the Next Drill:
When a drill ends tell the players where the pucks go for the next drill and then bring them in to tell them what to do next. Assistant coaches are not slaves and should be listening about the next activity and not quietly moving pucks around. If you have done the drill before there is no reason to use the drill board. You can simply tell them the focus of the drill or game and any variation you want. Have a few of your players who can demonstrate well do the drill instead of always drawing it on the board.

Give a Time Limit for the Attack
- I recently ran the on ice sessions players in the Boston area for college players. On drills with zero opposition or outnumber situations Curtis Brackenbury (former NHL player and coach) had me give the players a time limit for the attack. So on a 3-0 when practicing the middle drive they had 10" to score or on a 2-1 the same thing. This creates urgency and the players have to attack the net and go for rebounds. It makes one way drills more game like and the intensity is better.

Coaches, what are some other ways to improve practice?


'The Game is the Greatest Coach'
'Enjoy the Game'
   
Admin
Registered: 06/25/08
Posts: 3122
Location: Calgary, Canada
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Creating a Transition Game out of a Situation Drill - Example C3-B600, 2 on 1 x 2 - Pro

This is a great drill. It creates 2 on 1 situations, the players have to finish the play and fight for loose pucks etc. The D ends the play by making a pass and the waiting players stay engaged by giving them the decision when to leave.

How could this drill become even more game like???

Turn it into a one puck transition game at each end.

A. Have the next players follow the play into the zone and give passive support with the 2 F's mirroring the play from the puck side boards and the middle. The D be at the mid point.
On a turnover, frozen puck or goal the D pass the same puck to a F who now regroup by skating to the far blue line and turning back and attacking the new D 2 on 1. The same thing happens at the other end and the flow continues. Have half white D and F's and half dark since it is a game and white attacks dark and visa verso.

B. Combine passive and active support with F1 backchecking and helping the D to make it a low 2-2. F2 is passive along with the D at the point.

C. Make the support active for both teams. F1 supports low and F2 cover the D at the point who is on the same team as the original 2-1. Now it is a 3-3 game in the end after a brief 2-1 attack. On transition to defense the supporting 2 F's skate to the far blue line and attack vs the D who was playing the point who has skated to over the red line to close the gap on the oncoming 2-1. Now you have a 2-1 situation and again they get support from the players waiting along the boards in the neutral zone.

If you have a large group you could play 2-2 and have 4-4 at each end or 3-2 and have 5-5 at each end.

Other options are to add dump-ins to work on breakouts, cycling, low coverage and the forecheck.

If a coach can learn to change situation drills into transition games that create the same situations the players will be learning under increasing game like conditions.


'The Game is the Greatest Coach'
'Enjoy the Game'
   
Admin
Registered: 06/25/08
Posts: 3122
Location: Calgary, Canada
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One way to improve your practice session is to do statistics on what happens in your practices. You don' have to do this in every practice, but it 's good to do couple of times in season to see how effective your practices are.
Ask someone to:
1. time the activity of an individual player.
2. count the amount Passes/shots of an individual player
3. film your practices and from the video you can count how many decision making situations an individual player faces.


Kai

   
Active Member
Registered: 06/10/09
Posts: 159
Location: Finland
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One simple thing I do is put a quote on the glass beside my practice plan . - " "Are you working hard ?" " PRACTICE - You only get out what you put in " " There is no glory in practice - but without practice there is no glory " ETC
I find the " power of suggestion " is a great focus or Re focus for practice .
All the while implementing the philosophies on this excellent site
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Great ideas Kai and Smac.
Kai, you must be back from your summer cabin the lake.
I am in Jasper and we start our hockey camp this morning. There are two boy's here from Philadelphia. The family loves the mountains and already have seen bear, elk, mountain sheep and other animals. The Elk walk down the stree here.

   
Newbie
Registered: 07/23/08
Posts: 5
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There are a lot of great ideas. A big one for me is to make the players go to the net after they shoot, looking for a loose puck, and stop. Quite often I see players, during a game, take a shot and skate by the net like they are heading to the corner to get back in line like they would in a practice. Helps develop good habits, especially with younger players.

Heading to PEI on Friday for the Hockey Atlantic coaches clinic where Paul MacLean is the main speaker along with a lot of other great presenters. I am really looking forward to this, it should be very informative and entertaining.

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luap, it sounds like a great seminar. Share the good ideas heare when you are done.
Tom

   
Newbie
Registered: 12/07/11
Posts: 4
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Using Stations

If you’re looking to improve your practice, you need to have as many players moving at the same time as you can. You cannot have a successful practice when you have players standing around waiting for their turn. Using 3 or more stations is a great way to have more players moving, and not standing around waiting for their turn.

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Agreed. If u stand in line most of practice then you are only getting better at standing in line.

   
Chatty
Registered: 06/28/12
Posts: 37
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Theme Practices

As a beginner coach I tryed to put every aspect of game of ice hockey in to a single practice session. I think there was pretty little of learning in those practices. Now with some spesific focus or theme my practices make sense to me and to players.

A practice with passing theme could go like this:

1. warm up game of x number of passes gives 1 point
- forehand
- backhand
2. skill drill
-stationary passing forehand, backhand
3. SAG with passing theme
4. some competition with passing theme.


Kai

   
Active Member
Registered: 06/10/09
Posts: 159
Location: Finland
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When you coach, especially in the U6 –U 14 age groups, you need to understand that some of the best practices look a little unorganized from the stands.

I can run some of the best looking practices, players skating hard, cutting through the neutral zone, receiving a pass and shooting on net.
U9 breakout that would make your head spin, players protecting the house, and shooting the puck around the boards out of trouble. Parents telling me how great they looked out there, but I hate this type of practice.

This type of practice does not help the players improve their skills.

We all need to be SKILL COACHES.

When a player can SKATE WITH THE PUCK, his/her head up everything else because easier. We cannot be concerned with our win/loss records; we need to coach for long term skill development.

There is not enough stickhandling practice being done.
Have the players in stations working on their stickhandling, not just puck control (passing, receiving, shooting). Work on toe drags, spin-o-rama, the Gretzky, fake-shots.
Let the players be creative.

Sometimes the best practices can be a little ugly.

   
Chatty
Registered: 06/28/12
Posts: 37
9 posts :: Page 1 of 1