Photo Credit: Heather Pollock Photography
As everyone prepares for a return to hockey in what will certainly be a unique season, we are all taking the time to ensure a safe return to the rink. With the staged return to hockey, there will be an opportunity for an increased focus on skill development.
During the course of the phased-in return to hockey, parents and players can expect some things to look different to what they have previously experienced. This will be especially true when it comes to practice. Practices are an opportunity for coaches to focus their players on specific areas of improvement and skill development.
Drills are often explained by coaches at the bench, where players take a knee in front of a whiteboard as the coach draws up the drill. Ideally, coaches should spend as little time at the board as possible to alleviate opportunities for players to come together, and to ensure proper physical distancing at all times. Utilizing tools like the Hockey Canada Network App or COACH THEM is an excellent way to communicate practice plans and expectations before players arrive at the rink.
The use of equipment such as pylons, rink dividers, danglers and spray paint can be effective to split the ice into zones and also ensure proper physical distancing for players. Items such as pylons can be multi-purpose, either as an obstacle for stickhandling or to mark a certain area on the ice. Ensure that any spray paint or markers used are water based and approved for use by the facility. Take advantage of the glass and boards, taping signs to mark stations or instruction.
Coaches are encouraged to check out the Hockey Canada Network App, a resource that contains a number of practice drills and tips for this season.
Coaches who take the time to plan their practice, drill selection, and to communicate these in advance to all players before they arrive at the rink will minimize time in front of the whiteboard, and maximize player engagement and focus on their skill development.
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