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Five Ways to Run a More Effective Practice

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 09/25/14, 10:30AM EDT

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No two hockey practices are the same however, all practices should follow these fundamental steps

No two hockey practices are the same however, all practices should follow these fundamental steps:

1.    Set Specific Objectives for Practice 
Determine the areas you would like to focus on or determine a theme for practice and how it fits into your overall seasonal plan.  Whether it is a weakness your team displayed in a previous game or working on a new system, you will need a plan to run a successful practice. 

2.    Prepare your Plan
Once the focus or theme has been determined, prepare your practice plan. This will allow you to efficiently use your time on the ice. Plan the practice with the input of your coaching staff and provide make sure every coach is given a specific role and feels involved. Draw up the ice plans and make sure they include the following ingredients:

  • Begin with a proper warm-up, starting off-ice
  • Teach & practice new skills early in practice before players become tired and the ice gets cut up.
  • Use the 100% rule: “100% of the ice, 100% player participation, 100% effort.”
  • Keep players active, not passive.


3.    Share your Plan
Communicate your ice plans with the players prior to going on the ice. Explain the importance of each drill and what skills they work on. This way, when the players are on ice and you briefly describe the drills again there will not be any surprises.  By doing this, allows you to spend more time practicing on ice and less time explaining.

4.    Execute your Plan
You are now ready to move along with your practice and “divide and conquer”. This means to use all areas of the ice and not to leave any unused ice. Small Area Games or stations are great ways to utilize your ice, create an upbeat tempo and enhances skill development through repetition. The key to “divide and conquer” is to have all or most of your players engaged in the drill. You want to avoid long line ups that have your players standing still. For example, if you are practicing a breakout system, have both ends working at the same time.  You can also have the other half of your team defending the breakout. 

5.    Evaluate Practice
After practice, evaluate your practice plan and its effectiveness through feedback from players and coaching staff.

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