USA Hockey Magazine

January 2019

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14 // JANUARY 2019 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM O F F W I N G 3 B E Y O N D T H E X ' S A N D O ' S PHOTO BY Kristen Wright Keep Things Moving, And Keep Things Fun I wish I grew up with station-based practices and small-area games when I was starting out. It's so much easier to be trained in situations that offer little time and space so that when things happen in a game you're able to adjust. That's why so many college and pro coaches will incorporate small-area games into their practices. When you put your players through a well-run station-based practice you can see that they leave the ice completely gassed with smiles on their faces. That's when you know you've run a good practice. Final Thoughts Some people think that the higher up you progress in the game the less fun it is. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Competition and fun go together. As a coach you're building a platform for kids to develop a love of the game. And practice is a perfect place to plant that seed. P Change With The Seasons Tailor your practice plans to your team's age and skill level, as well as the time of the season. Early in the year you may want to focus more on the fundamentals and basic team con- cepts. That doesn't mean you abandon those things as the season progresses, but you can introduce new concepts to keep things fresh and help develop new skills. Communication Before Practice Don't waste ice time going over your practice plan on a dry erase board over near the bench. Go over the practice plan with your coaches before practice to get them on the same page so they know what their roles are. Then talk with your team about the upcoming practice, what stations and drills will be incorporated and what they will be working on. It's a good idea to have specific names for drills so that when you call them out your players know what to do. Stick With What Works Some coaches don't like repeating a p r a c t i c e p l a n , b u t I d o n ' t s e e anything wrong with it. If something works, don't be afraid to stick with it. Especially if your players seem to enjoy a particular drill or small-area game. You can always tweak a drill by adding in a few new wrinkles. Have A Theme I like practices that focus on a central theme, such as skating, scoring or passing. Within every drill you can incorporate different elements so your players are working on a specific skill, oftentimes without realizing it. Construct a practice plan where each drill complements the ones before and after it to create building blocks to improvement. Be Flexible S omet i mes t h i ng s lo ok go o d on paper but when you get out on t he ic e t hey don 't go a s pl a n ne d . Don't be a f ra id to m i x it up, espe- cia lly if your players don't seem to grasp the concept of the drill or it 's not cha l leng i ng enoug h for t hem . S o m e d a y s y o u r p l a y e r s ' m i n d s aren't in it and their energ y level is not what you'd like. That 's especial- ly true at certain times of the school year and the season. That's a time to call an audible. I like practices that focus on a central theme, such as skating, scoring or passing. C oaches at every level of the game will inevitably ask the same question at some point in the season: How do I get the most out of each practice? We all know that ice time is a precious commodity, so it's important to make every minute count. Here are a few ideas to get the most out of every practice. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Getting The Most Out Of Practice g By Emily West, ADM Manager, Female Hockey

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