Planning A Great Hockey Practice

by Greg Siller - Pro Learning Systems
 
 


Planning an effective hockey practice can be one of the most difficult tasks a coach must perform. It is also one of the most critical for team success. Getting your individual players to improve their existing skills, learn new ones, and work together as a team is what practice planning should be all about.

I have developed the Pro Learning Systems Practice Planner Tool to help coaches develop effective practices for players of all ages. The Tool should be used as a framework to design your own specific practices. The Practice Planner Tool is based on the requirement that each practice should follow 5 practice phases (identified in the table below). These practice phases include warm-up, individual skills, positional skills, team skills, and cool-down. Working on (and perfecting) each of the 5 practice phases will ensure that you are providing your players with the essential ingredients for team success.

Following the warm-up phase (designed to warm and stretch muscles and increase the heart rate), players should work on the individual skills. These include skating, stickhandling, passing and shooting. During the pre-season, about 55% of each practice (33 minutes) should be devoted to individual skills. As the season progresses, the amount of time devoted to individual skills development normally decreases. Once the season starts (to about the mid-season point), practicing individual skills should take up about 15 minutes of each practice (25% of the overall practice time). Once you have past the mid-season point, individual skills should be worked on for about 12 minutes (20% of the overall practice time).

Positional skill execution works in a similar way; with about 25% of each pre-season practice devoted to positional skills (playing defense, forward, or goaltender). Where possible, the coach should try to incorporate positional drills that will help each type of player. The 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 drills are very effective at teaching skills for all three positions at the same time. The difference between positional skills and individual skills is that as the season progresses, positional skill execution time should increase (versus decrease for individual skills). Once the season is more than half way complete, positional skills should  increase to about 40% of each practice (24 minutes).

The time spent on team skills (breakouts, offensive zone penetration, etc) will also increase during the season; beginning with approximately 6 minutes (10% of your practice) and increasing to approximately 18 minutes (30%) by the end of the season.

Following the team drills, coaches should allow their team a couple of minutes to cool-down. This involves moderate paced skating to allow leg muscles to stretch and also provides for a gradual reduction in the pace of practice.
 
 
 

 


 

Practice Planner Tool
by Greg Siller                  www.ProLearning.com

 

Practice Phases

Pre-Season 

First Game to Mid-Season

Mid-Season thru Playoffs

Warm-up on rink

5% or 3 minutes

5% or 3 minutes

5% or 3 minutes

Individual Skills

Skating and Conditioning
Stickhandling
    Passing and Receiving
Shooting an Rebounds

 

55% or
33 minutes

 

25% or
15 minutes

 

20% or
12 minutes

Positional Skills

Defense
Forwards
Goaltenders

 
25% or
15 minutes

 
40% or
24 minutes

 
40% or
24 minutes

Team Skills

Breakouts
Offensive Zone Penetration
Offensive Zone Play
Forechecking
Backchecking
Defensive Zone Play
Face-offs
Penalty Kill
Power Play
Scrimmage

 
 
 

10% or
6 minutes

 
 
 

25% or
15 minutes

 
 
 

30% or
18 minutes

Cool-down on rink

5% or 3 minutes

5% or 3 minutes

5% or 3 minutes

Total

100% or
60 minutes

100% or
60 minutes

100% or
60 minutes

I hope that my Practice Planner Tool provides you with the information you need to improve each and every one of your practices. Let me know how it works.

If you want more information on practice and drill development, check out the other pages in the Tips section of my web site.

Contact Greg Siller @ Pro Learning Systems