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What Hockey Coaches Can Learn from Other Sports

By Aaron Wilbur, The Coaches Site, 01/05/24, 10:00AM EST


How to set goals and plan practices

There is more that comes with coaching than the Xs and Os. And coaches shouldn’t feel the pressure to take on building their toolbox all on their own.

Coaches can constantly be learning from each other, not just within their own sport, but from around the coaching community.

Wayne Parro has worked with coaches from across the world, sharing ideas to help grow the game everywhere he goes. In those conversations, he’s learned that the problems in hockey aren’t unique despite what some may think. They exist across the sporting landscape, whether it be baseball, basketball or soccer.

“It’s about communication. As a coach, if you overly communicate with everyone, in this case particularly parents, you’re probably going to get good results,” said Parro. “If you don’t put the effort in, you won’t have a chance.”

In in his time as the Director of International Programs with the Coaching Association of Canada, Parro’s worked with athletes and coaches through roles with Canadian Major Games Organizations. He was the Lead Instructor with the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Academy, and coached both the Senior and Junior Baseball Canada’s Women’s Team and was an Assistant Coach with the York University Men’s hockey program. He’s also a Facilitator in the OMHA Coaching Program.

A common pre-season team-building session that coaches carry out is setting goals for the season. Parro reminds coaches to get players involved in the process as well, and for them to share their personal goals as part of the exercise.

“Your goals (as a coach) may not align with their goals. Get your athletes involved in goal-setting. That’s the communication that you’re referring to. It’s fine to stand on a bench and give orders or before the game give a motivating speech in the dressing room. Once the game’s over, what’s next? Understanding those individual goals helps coaches build training plans and not only address team goals but individual goals as well.”

Practice isn’t about running specific drills and then having a shootout. When creating a seasonal practice plan, coaches should leave a gap for what the team may need to work on based on recent performance. Have they been struggling on breakouts or powerplays? That’s the built-in timeframe to improve on those areas.

“Take those scenarios, break them down, identify the technical and tactical skills that are required, support it by the physical and mental skills that are required for that scenario that your team is not executing properly. There’s your practice plan.”

Keeping practices engaging while also developing skills is one of the biggest challenges for coaches. It’s about balancing the teaching and the fun of hockey.

“You can get a drill or video and go out and run that on the ice in practice. So, when does the coaching begin? When you’re willing to stop that drill because it’s not going the way it should. You’re going to identify the missing skill and go back and pick it up,” said Ian Taylor, co-host of the podcast.

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