To be an assistant on Mike Babcock's staff you have to do one specific thing.
"I want you to have a new idea every day, and I want you to fight for your idea," Babcock said. "I try to hire people that are going to bring change. I've got that right in their job description."
It's all part of Babcock's R&D philosophy, something he's famous for among his assistants.
"Rob and Do," said Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan, a former assistant to Babcock with the Detroit Red Wings. "That's his R&D. That's his research and development."
It is often noted that good coaches are great ‘thieves’- they ‘rob’ concepts, ideas and drills from other coaches. Great coaches however modify and adjust those drills to fit their players and programs – that’s the ‘do’ part of R&D – and its crucial to make it your own.
As the season starts to ramp up, some coaches can find it tough to balance the demands of everyday life to their hockey commitments. In order to help keep those practices running efficiently and effectively while introducing innovative new strategies to teach your team, we have compiled a list of the seven of the best resources for planning your next practice to ensure you get the most out of the precious practice time each week.
Hockey Canada Drill Hub
Download hundreds of drills, create practice plans and share them with your coaches and players with the Hockey Canada Drill Hub or the Hockey Canada Network mobile app. Offence, defence, goaltending, special teams, with or without the puck; close to a hundred searchable drill videos, descriptions and diagrams are available for players of all levels.
Video is perhaps the best and easiest way to share drills and skills – see it and do it. The process of accessing video has never been easier and with that, more and more video is available. The OMHA’s YouTube channel is a prime destination for hundreds of skill and drill videos. The Video Coach series gives a step-by-step breakdown of how a scoring play developed through tactics and strategy.
OMHA Players Club
The OMHA Players Club was created for players to develop their skills at home. There is evidence to show that daily micropractices are effective and often superior to longer practice sessions once or twice a week. The Players Club includes the 5000 Puck Challenge, 10,000 Touches and The 30/30 Challenge (age 10 & under; age 11 & over) which reinforces the concepts introduced Hockey Canada’s Long Term Player Development (LTPD) model. The model sets out a development progression or pathway for hockey players.
The way that players are learning is changing and getting your message across in a concise, direct way is key for players to retain information. There are many stories, including from famous leaders in the sports world themselves, about how they used unique communication styles to reach their players.
Running and effective practice isn’t just picking some great drills. All great practices start with a plan and include key basic components such as warm-up, instruction and competition and should also engage the athlete and fit into your broader seasonal plan.
Meet Your Player’s Needs
Providing players with the right skills at the right time in their development is crucial. Age-appropriate programming will ensure players are introduced to skills in a timely and systematic way which will provide them with the opportunity to develop and consolidate skills and this success will keep them engaged and in the game. We have created summaries for Initiation, Tyke and Novice, Atom, Peewee, Bantam and up.
Make it Game-Like
Be sure to include competitive situations that translate to game situations. This doesn’t mean systems per se, but rather where and when to use certain skills and tactics. Cross-ice and small area games provide a great opportunity to incorporate competitive situations into your practices. More touches, more repetition and more fun are the result.
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