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January 2010 Practice Plans

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Practice Plans
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Here are my practice plans for January 2009.

Practice Plan for 01/06/10
Practice Plan for 01/09/10
Practice Plan for 01/11/10
Dryland Plan for 01/12/10
Practice Plan for 01/12/10
Practice Plan for 01/14/10
Practice Plan for 01/17/10
Dryland Plan for 01/19/10
Practice Plan for 01/19/10
Dryland Plan for 01/21/10
Practice Plan for 01/21/10
Dryland Plan for 01/26/10
Practice Plan for 01/26/10
Practice Plan for 01/27/10
Practice Plan for 01/28/10


Low Cycle – Video

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Hockey Drills
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This week’s video explains the Low Cycle drill.  It’s a great drill for working on cycling, driving the net, and puck protection.  Feel free to leave your comments – we love to get feedback on the videos.

Drill Diagram:

Click diagram to view drill page

French Version | Variation 1 | Variation 2


Choosing Drills for Practice

I get a lot of questions every week about how to select drills from the database we post here at HockeyShare.  In order to choose drills which maximize your ice time, there are several things you must take into account:

1) What is your goal of running the drill – meaning, what skill/tactic are you focusing on
2) Age of your players
3) Talent of your team
4) Can you teach the core skills necessary?
5) What type of tempo are you looking to get out of the drill?
6) Review the drill after practice w/ your coaching staff

What is your goal in running the drill:  If you don’t know what skill or tactic you want to work on, how can you begin to select a drill?  Take the time to plan what skills you want to develop in your practice before you do anything else!  If you’re short on ideas, look back to your games and think about what your team struggled with. No matter what level you’re working with, you can’t go wrong with basic skill instruction and practice!  As Brian Burke said at the 2009 USA Hockey Coaches Symposium – “Get a power skating instructor, the Leafs have one!”  If NHL players still focus on skating techniques, there’s no reason not to focus on them at the youth level.

Age of your players: Are your players physically and mentally capable of performing the drill?  Children develop at different ages – if you’re trying to run a drill the players cannot physically do, both players and coaches will become quickly frustrated.  For example, to properly perform a quick start, a player must have adequate leg strength to allow for explosive steps on the toe of the skate blade.  Many players don’t adequately develop this strength until they are approximately Peewee age.  This isn’t to say proper technique shouldn’t be introduced so they understand the mechanics, but it needs to be understood that Mites most likely will not be able to fully execute a proper quick start.

Talent of your team: While some of the drills posted here are very simple and short, many require a specific advanced movement in order to get the most out of the drill.  Coaches need to have a realistic view of how much talent they are dealing with.  The drill will not go well if you’re asking players to do something in which they lack the fundamental skills to execute.  Analyze the drill and figure out the prerequisite skills needed before you throw any drill into your practice plan.  An example of a simple drill to run, but difficult drill to execute correctly is the Quick Crossover & Shoot drill.  This drill is dead-simple to run, but requires players to be able to: cross over, receive passes in-stride, shoot in-stride, and keep their head up.  If your team struggles in one of those categories, it may be best to find a drill that first focuses on those skills.

Can you teach the core skills:  When you introduce new drills into a practice, it is often times to address specific skill deficiencies.  If you as a coach are uncomfortable teaching the fundamentals behind the skill, you need to find someone who can teach it before you try to run the drill.  This may sound obvious, but I’m always amazed at the number of coaches who run simple skating drills, but cannot properly explain the techniques behind them.  Take, for example, a tight-turn drill.  If your team is struggling with them, you’ve got to be able to articulate the technique so players can make the proper adjustments.  Coaches need to understand some of the following if they’d like to make a positive change in the player’s technique: weight distribution, edge use, proper foot placement, shoulder position, head/vision, torso rotation, and accelerating out of the turn.

What type of tempo are you looking for:  If you’re looking to keep the tempo high in practice, you will want to lean toward drills that are shorter and explosive so you focus on executing them at top speed.  If you’re looking to create more of a “flow” practice with rushes and long ice passes, look for drills that stretch the ice out and finish with a rush against defenders.

Review the drill:  Now that you’ve run your new drills, go back and discuss what worked and didn’t work with your coaching staff.  I’m not ashamed to admit there are drills I’ve tried once, didn’t like, and never ran again.  Sometimes there will be trial and error involved when implementing new drills.  Before you scrap a new drill though, talk it through to see if a simple modification could make the drill “work” for your group.  Don’t just take the drills straight from the website (or a book) and expect them to work 100% every time – adjust them to fit your level.


Ten Quick Tip Drills

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Hockey Drills
Tags: , ,

Getting traffic in front of the goalie and redirecting the shot are two of the most important aspects of scoring goals at high levels.  Seldom at the higher levels does a goaltender get beat on shots they can see clearly.  I’ve compiled ten quick drills focusing on tipping and screening.  These drills aren’t on the main drill section of the site (yet), and I put them together in a single PDF for ease of viewing.  The drills are meant to be very simple and executed at a high tempo. As with any drills you find, modify them to make them age and skill appropriate.

I hope you find them useful!

Ten Quick Tip Drills – HockeyShare.com


Flow Drills (en français)

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Hockey Drills
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Robert Potvin has been kind enough to share some of his flow drills.  This PDF is written in French.  If there are any users would like to volunteer to help translate into English, please email me at kevin@hockeyshare.com.  If we can get an English translation done, we will post the document for everyone.

Flow Drills (en français)


Pepper Drive Variations/Modifications

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Hockey Drills
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Last week we posted a video on the Pepper Drive drill.  Here are some modifications to the original (base) drill.  If you have other modifications, please feel free to send them over.

Pepper Drive 2 Puck High/Low Variation

Pepper Drive High Shot Variation

Pepper Drive with Point Shot Variation

Pepper Drive with Defensive Player Variation

Pepper Drive with Defensive Player

Pepper Drive with Low Cycle Variation

Pepper Drive w/ Low Cycle

Pepper Drive with Figure 8’s Variation

Pepper Drive with Figure 8


Planning a Practice

You’ve got your team…you’ve got your schedule…now it’s time to plan your practice.  Where do you start?  There are so many things to think about and so many drills to choose from – how does a coach know what to do? Practice planning can be one of the single biggest factors in having a successful season.  The way a team practices, and the preparation put into each session go a long way to developing the team – good or bad!  The age-old saying of “you play like you practice” is (most times) spot-on.

I believe one of the most important things a coach can do is properly plan each practice prior to the session and share the plan with the other coaches/helpers on the ice with him/her.  Think of a practice plan as a one-night goal setting map.  If you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, how will you ever know if you are successful?  A good tempo doesn’t necessarily indicate a “good” practice. A good practice is only achieved when players make progress on whatever skills or systems the coach deems it necessary to work on that evening.  Think of it this way – when players start a game, they all know what the goal is!  Everyone understands they want to put the puck into the opposing team’s net, and whichever team does it the most will be declared the winner. Scoring the goal is the goal. It’s easy to tell at the end of a game whether or not you were successful – we keep track of these goals on the scoreboard!  When you run a practice, the target becomes much more subjective, but without a target, you’ll never know if you’re on track.

So how should you approach planning your practices? I believe there are some core concepts one must take into account each time in order to effectively plan practice.

1) Know your practice & game schedule: Before you can plan your practice, you’ve got to know some basic things about your schedule.  Did you just get off a 5-game tournament weekend?  Do you have a game tomorrow? Is this your first practice of the week after a day off?  These are a few of the questions you need to ask yourself before you even think about planning your practice.  As coaches, we’ve got to realize what our players are capable of and what their overall energy level should be entering the session.  If you just played 5 games over the weekend and you’re practicing on a Monday, you should probably expect your players to be a bit more tired than if they were coming off an off-day.

When my players are tired/banged up, I look to spend more time on full-ice flow and system-related concepts rather than short intense “burst” drills.  I also try to keep the drills pretty simple – if you try to get overly complicated with a tired team, their chances of messing the drill up become greater…which can lead to frustration from players and coaches alike.  The full-ice flow drills let them make some passes and get the legs moving without being over-exerting.

2) Know what your team needs to improve: Now that you know your schedule and the types of drills you want to run, it’s time to analyze what things need to be corrected. Did your team really struggle on their defensive zone coverage?  Was the power play not clicking?  Were the breakout passes not tape-to-tape?  Take time to think about the areas you need improvement on, and analyze WHY the team struggled with them.

3) Recognize the skills involved (helping find the “WHY”): If you’ve decided your team needs work on a particular systematic scenario, you’ll need to break down the system and figure out what skills are necessary in order to properly execute.  For example, if a team is struggling with breaking out, a coach would need to recognize the number of skills involved with this seemingly simple scenario.  In order to successfully break out, players need to be proficient at the following: stopping, pivoting, passing (both giving & receiving), accelerating (quick starts), handling the puck, communicating, and reading the ice.

Spend time on developing the necessary skills.  Don Lucia, head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers D1 Men’s Team, had a great quote in one of the videos I posted earlier: “If you can’t do it technically, you can’t do it tactically.”  He’s absolutely correct.  If a right wing can’t stop with his left foot, he is going to have a hard time being in proper position to catch a breakout pass at the hash marks!

4) Pick the right drills:  Figuring out which drills to use can be one of the most challenging portions of planning practices.  If you  know what you’re trying to focus on, this process is greatly simplified, but will still require some serious thought. Before you can pick any drills (warmups included), a coach needs to be aware of the age & talent level they are working with.  Coaches need to have a realistic grasp of what their players are capable of – without it, there will be frustration.  While it’s good to use new drills, there is much benefit in running drills your players are familiar with.  Repetition is the mother of success – if the players don’t have to think about the pattern of the drill (ie – they’re familiar with it already), they can better focus on the skill at hand.

5) Use high-tempo warmup drills: The first two or three drills you run set the tempo for the entire practice. These should be simple drills your players are familiar with – little to know setup time is ideal.  Get their heads into it right away.  Last week I wrote a whole topic on the subject: How to approach warmups

6) Communicate the plan with your coaching staff:  I can’t stress this one enough.  Having the entire coaching staff on the ice knowing the plan will go a long way to ensure everyone is focusing on the same key points.  Without this, players may inadvertently receive mixed messages from different coaches.  If you can’t get the rest of the coaches an entire practice plan in advance, at least clue them in on the overall concept and key points for the session.

7) Evaluate the practice:  What worked? What didn’t?  How can you improve? Practice evaluation is arguably the single most important part of a coach’s practice plan. This portion will also help you plan your next practice by knowing whether or not the team successfully accomplished the goals.


Pepper Net Drive Video

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Hockey Drills
Tags: , ,

This week our featured drill in conjunction with M2 Hockey is the Pepper Drive.  This is a great drill to work on driving the net, quick shot releases, playing rebounds, and positioning in front of the net.

Click on the diagram to view the drill page with full drill description:

Pepper Drive - Hockey Drill Diagram


Highlights from the Forums

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: HockeyShare.com Features
Tags: , ,

Over the past few months, there have been some great discussions in our forums. The forums are a great place to hear what others think and find out how they approach different situations. Here are a few of the recent highlights worth checking out. If you’ve got an opinion on any of these topics, we’d love to see your response:

Who Serves Your Penalties? – a topic on how to handle choose a player to server a bench minor, goalie penalty, or the minor for a 2+10.

Post Game Talk – discussion on how long and what to discuss in the locker room after a game.

Defensive Zone Coverage – talks of different coverage options in the defensive zone.

Coaching Salaries/Expenses – a hot-button thread, discussing how much coaches do (and should) get paid.


Staple Warmup Drills

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Hockey Drills
Tags: ,

Yesterday I posted a commentary on how to approach planning your warmup time during the hockey season.  Today I’d like to share with you some of my own staple warmup drills.

Passing: 4 Corner Pass Drill , 5 Pass

Puck Control/Skating: Snake Bites, Net Traffic Stickhandle

Skating: Mini Lightnings (For Defensemen: Defense Mini Lightning), Footwork / Agility Overspeed

Small Area Game: 3 on 3 w/ Neutral QB

All these drills can be found in our online drill database.


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