Coaching Hockey

Drills and Plans for Success

Hi there coaches! If you're looking for some general coaching tips and practice outlines, you've come to the right place. I've found that there is a serious lack of content for coaches on the internet, so I've put this page together to help out.

Planning for Success

Whether you're a coach of a younger team or an older team, your goal is the same: You want to develop the skills of your players individually, while allowing them to work together as a team for in-game play. It's important to use constructive criticism when teaching a player what s/he is doing wrong. Emphasize that this is right, and this will work great in that situation. As a coach, you need to get a feel for the individual, and what teaching methods will work best for them. If you have assistant coaches, try to set aside a time for one of them to work one-on-one with one or two of your players (different ones at each practice) to develop skills. Check out our hockey drills for the Drills of the Month and our hockey skills for the basics each player shoudl master. Read on, we have some ideas that may prove useful!

Sportsmanship and Team Play

Young or old, all players should have an excellent attitude toward hockey and other players. No one wants the hot-headed guy that takes penalties at the wrong time on their team, and no one wants the girl that "coaches" everyone else on the bench. Being a good sport is an integral part of hockey, and is also what makes a good hockey player. If you have a team full of "good sports", team cameraderie will be better, therefore team cohesiveness will be better, and everyone will play together better.

Working with Parents

This is a tough one, being a coach of a kid's team isn't easy. There's almost always at least one parent that is a little over-zealous when it comes to their young superstar. Here are some ways of heading off potentially awkward situations before they happen:

Include your Goalie!

Now, this is a pet peeve of mine solely because I am a goalie and I know that being "left out" of practices is fairly common for goalies. Not because the coach forgets about them, but because either the coach feels that the drills being done are including the goalie so that's good enough (it's not!) or because the coach doesn't know what being a goalie is all about and therefore doesn't know how to teach that position. Think about it: Your goalie is on the ice for the entire game, and is your last line of defense when it comes to keeping that puck out of the net -- you want your goalie to be ready and on top of the game! Also, as a goalie, it's very easy to be left out of "teamness" (ie. you're not on the bench during the game, you're alone in the net) so make sure your goalie gets a feel for that too. It's a tough position.

Develop the Individual

Any player on your team can use some work on individual skills, whether it be skating, passing, or general play knowledge. Take some time to work on these individual skills with your players.

Develop the Team

Not only does a good coach help his team learn how to work together on the ice for important plays, but also makes sure the team has *fun* playing together. Even at a competitive level, the fun of the game (and the love of the game!) should still remain.

Practice Plans

I'm working on developing some practice plans for you to use and improve upon, complete with diagrams! Stay tuned!

And if that's not enough for you, there are some wonderful resources for drills and practice plans available. I recommend The Hockey Play Book: Teaching Hockey Systems and The Hockey Coach's Manual: A Guide to s, Skills, Tactics and Conditioning, both by Michael A. Smith (former Toronto Maple Leafs staff member). Another good book is Coaching Youth Hockey (Coaching Youth Series) for it's focus on coaching youth hockey. If you manage to find The Complete Player: The Psychology of Winning Hockey (it's not widely available), it's excellent for overall mental and physical conditioning.

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