Just imagine if I was to give you a hockey practice plan you could implement and follow to the letter next fall. Would you like that? Would it work for you? Well, before you start to salivate — 🙂 , hear me out…
— Dennis Chighisola
Faulty Hockey Practice Plans
I hate to say it but, I’ve addressed this topic more times than I can remember, and my mind hasn’t changed one iota since the first time I did so. As a matter of fact, I haven’t abandoned my personal joke about that, either — about being a very wealthy man today, IF only I’d give in to the (weaker) crowd…
In other words, I’ve had countless coaches through the years ask me if I’d publish something like I’ve hinted at above, and I know I’d sell a kzillion copies of such a hockey practice plan. If there’s a problem, though, it’s that I have a dawgone conscience.
Now, what got me reeling at my writer this morning was seeing about the fourth request this week for that kind of coaching help. And, I can just imagine that this same question is going to appear soon in my Hockey Drills Only Facebook group.
In a nutshell, however, here’s the problem…
From the get-go, no two teams in the world are exactly the same. Still, that’s not the worst of it, because every team within a given level could start with a similar hockey practice plan, and then quickly need adjustments from there onward.
And it’s that latter statement — about making adjustments — that brings us to the real problem.
I mean, even two identical teams are going to change from day to day, with each eventually needing advanced drills in some areas and remedial work in others. And, that’s on a constant basis — day to day or practice to practice, to the point where neither team’s needs are going to be even close to the others within a month or so.
To me, it’s the latter quality that spells the difference in effective and not-so-effective coaches. In other words, the effective coach is constantly watching for changing needs within his team, and he’s addressing those on a regular basis. As noted above, the effective coach has a keen eye, and should notice certain skills that need to be challenged more, while others need a slowed, methodical approach. (If you want to hear something that might be a little unsettling to some hockey coaches, check this out: “When To Abandon A Hockey Drill“.)
The difference in what I’m suggesting versus what some youth coaches ask for? If the hockey practice plan is everything, the coach can stay home and just mail in his list of drills. Of course, we know that’s not the answer, and that a coach means everything to a team’s — and to each individual player’s — constant growth.
So, how should things go in a perfect world? Here’s what I believe…
For sure, coaches need a deep supply of resources — trust me, that this old coach has relied on tons of outside advice in such matters. I had a huge library attached to my office back in Massachusetts, and as big a supply of videos to delve into for help.
That’s now kinda the purpose of CoachChic.com, in that I don’t always tell members exactly how to do things, but I do arm coaches, parents and older players with all they’ll ever need to make wise decisions on their own. (Not that I won’t jump in and give specific answers to anyone who writes me at Ask The Coach.)
Anyway, what I’m suggesting is that truly effective hockey coaches (and parents) need to be fairly strong in two areas…
First, they need to develop a keen eye, so they’re able to spot the ups, downs and specific needs of their players.
Secondly, they need some resources, so they can chase down ideas for each discovered need. (Repeating something I said several times already, the effective coach has to know how to accelerate the challenges when warranted, and he also has to know when and how to take a step back in a given skill progression.)
All that said, I have to apologize by suggesting that some coaches are being lazy if they skip doing things the right way, and rely on others for their nightly hockey practice plan. Worse yet, I’ll suggest that those kinds of coaches never get any better at what they do.
Lastly, I don’t doubt I’ll have lots of folks disagreeing with me. So, I’d surely like hearing from anyone — pro and con, in a Comment box below.