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Building Good Habits in Skill Development

By Aaron Wilbur, The Coaches Site, 03/16/21, 6:45PM EDT


How to focus on the areas of improvement

Photo Credit: Picture Day Photography

With the nature of this season skill development has taken a more prominent role in our on-ice sessions and at-home practice setups. Development takes time and creating good habits. Focusing on specific areas of improvement and seeking feedback are two of the top ways to have purposeful improvement. How can players use this time away from the rink to make sure they are practicing the right way?

Scott Jones works in player development with the Vegas Golden Knights. He helps to build training programs for players during the season and over the summer breaks.

He recognizes the unique circumstances this season brought forward.

“There was a lack of competition this year because we weren’t able to play games. I missed that for the players. I think it allowed us to consider development more,” said Jones. “In the past, it’s been a ‘game’ year. We play so many games and there’s a lack of time for players to improve and develop. You look at minor hockey, they play two games a week and one or two practices where they’re working on team play and you have to squeeze some development in there.”

To get ready for next year, Jones suggests focus on one area of improvement. If you think your shooting needs work, put the time in that part of the game. Take the extra steps to make your reps meaningful and to do them properly so bad habits don’t develop. If you go slower when practicing, the speed will come naturally afterwards.

Jones says the biggest thing parents should be looking for in a coach is feedback.

“If your child is going through it and not getting any feedback from the coaches then I see an issue. The only way we’re going to get better is through correction. If I go out and do something wrong nine out of ten times, I’m building a bad habit. Hockey skills are all about having good habits. Every rep has to be as close to perfect as possible. That’s how we’re going to introduce the good habits.”

The benefits of playing multiple sports have been highlighted in the benefits that it brings to hockey players. Putting away the skates and picking up a ball or a bat in the summer can prevent burnout, overuse injuries and help create a better overall athlete. Like practicing, Jones says it needs to be meaningful and proper. 

“For younger kids, I agree with multi-sport. The problem is people have taken this to the point where they put them in multiple sports to make their hockey better. That’s not why you do it. If your child likes something then let them do that, if they don’t like it, don’t put them in it because it’s going to help their hockey. That’s not what it’s about.”

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Aaron is the Founder and CEO of The Coaches Site, the #1 online resource for hockey coaches, and also the host of the Glass & Out podcast. He is married with two boys, believes Major League is the best sports movie of all-time, is scared of heights and is mildly obsessed with the Alabama Crimson Tide football program.

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