Every coach can improve the quality of their practises, from a experienced coach to the coach who is just starting out. The following discussion will provide you with a few things that you may consider using to improve the quality of your practises.
The cornerstone of any quality practise is preparation. Putting together a plan that will address the specific needs of your team at any given time requires both time and thought. The content of the practise, time management, division of on duties etc are all things that need to be considered when planning the practise.
To set up a good practice, a coach must have three major qualities: be organized (no place for improvisation), have good analysis capacities (know your team's needs and also your player's skills) and be a realist.
Some coaches set up their practices using books or now, by specialized web sites. These references are good in fact, but use them wisely. The drills you choose to use in the practice must respect the level of your team and your players. Often a coach is disappointed after practice and says that the players didn't do the drills correctly or didn't understand. They must ask themselves if the drills were suitable for their player's capacities. You don't ask a fourth grade student to do sixth grade work.
Studies show that kids learn faster if you use a bank of forty to sixty drills and repeat them often without always using the same drills. There execution will continue to improve and you can add progressions to change elements of the drill.
A good practise plan is just the beginning and in itself doesn't guarantee that the practise will be beneficial in terms of developing the player's individual skills and the team collectively. The on ice execution of the practise plan will determine the benefits of the practise. What are some of the common characteristics of a good practise?
- practise objectives have been established
- drills have been selected based on the objectives
- the practise is planned and organized
- there is specificity to each drill
- the drills selected are designed to improve specific areas, either individually or team play
- each area of the team, forwards, defensemen and goalies are dealt with separately and specifically during the practise
- the intensity is high during the drill work
- drills are performed at a high tempo
- all coaches on the ice are actively teaching/correcting the players during the performance of the drills
- on ice discipline is maintained and down time is kept to a minimum
- the coaches ensure that the drills are being executed properly.
Remember, hockey is a game ..... have fun!