The off-season is here and you have every good intention of working on your shot, or practicing your dangles every day (okay maybe at least a few times a week) but lets be honest, it’s going to be just like last year. The new season will roll up on you, and you’ll look back and think “damn, I didn’t practice anything!” Well, I’m here to help with an action plan!
How you can improve any skill in 30 Days
The reason most plans fail, is because they are usually more like wishes. You don’t have a good goal, you don’t know how to achieve it, and you have no real plan on how to actually make it happen. Watch the video below to learn how to set and accomplish your goal, a S.M.A.R.T Goal!
What you need to do TODAY
Come up with a goal, it has to be realistic, measurable, and specific
Figure out what needs to be done to achieve your goal
Plan out your step by step action plan to get from where you are now, to completion of your goal
Be accountable, tell some friends and family members that you are going to achieve your goal
Have a VERY good reason why you NEED to achieve your goal, you can tell this to yourself on the days you don’t feel like following your action plan
Think of any excuse that might prevent you from following your plan, and then think of ways to overcome those excuses. Now when any excuse creeps up you will be armed with a solution.
Report back in 30 days and let me know how you did!
Is your goal to improve your shot?
If you plan on taking a lot of shots to improve accuracy, power, or a quick release I recommend my iSnipe training app! It’s available for Apple and Android and has gotten very good reviews. The app includes a shot tracker, 16 training videos, and two cool quick release and accuracy training modules, plus a journal so you write down your accomplishments and records to beat.
Lets be honest, there is a lot to learn when it comes to positioning in hockey and you might have heard it 20 times but some of us just aren’t verbal learners. For all the visual learners out there I have created the hockey cheat sheet. This is an all encompassing guide that pretty much covers everything that your coach will yell over the boards at you. If you like this guide be sure to share it with your friends
How To Hockey Cheat Sheet
This guide should help you figure out what to do wherever you are on the ice!
There are two wingers in hockey, right wing, and left wing. Both wing men, as well as the centermen are referred to as forwards. The forwards are offensively minded and will score the majority of your teams goals. As a winger you will mostly play on your side of the ice, right wing will play up and down the right side of the ice (to the right of the centermen at faceoff) and the left wing will play on the left side.
The responsibilities of a winger
Your general duties as a wingman are to dig in the corner, feed the centermen and defence, wreak havoc in front of the other teams net, and outsmart the other teams defensemen on both ends of the rink. I will explain more below
A wingers duties and positioning in the defensive zone
The defensive zone is your teams end of the ice (the side where your goalie is in net) When you are playing in the defensive zone your team is trying to get the puck out (break out) and get into the offensive zone (the other teams end of the ice). When you are in the defensive zone you should generally stay between the blue line and the hash marks. You want to stay in that area for a few reasons:
To stop the other teams defensemen from getting the puck and getting a shot on your goalie.
To get a break out pass from your own team member
To block shots or passes if the other teams defensemen does have the puck.
To intercept passes and break out.
Video Tips on Defensive Zone Coverage For Wingers
This video was created by Kevin at HockeyShare.com, thanks for the awesome tips! Most wingers start just trying to cover the defense. As you get older and more skilled you can come down further and further like shown in the video.
What is your job in the Defensive zone?
When you are in the defensive zone it is your job to cover the other teams defensemen. When the other team has the puck you should keep a close eye on the defensemen as some times they will sneak in front of you, or move over to the center. When you are in the defensive zone the defensemen is your man, but it is also your job to accept passes from your own team members. You typically stay between the hash marks and the top of the circle. You will come up to the blue line when challenging the defence.
If your team has the puck there are a few ways to get the pass. The easiest way to get a pass is to take a few quick strides forward and take a pass at the hash marks along the boards, now your job is to break out. The safest way to break out of your end is to bank a pass off of the boards to your center men who should be breaking out, or if the defensemen is right against the boards you can gently redirect the puck to your centermen, or your winger who should be cutting to center (Always look before passing because the last thing you want to do is give a one timer to the other teams defence!). Another option is to carry the puck out yourself, don’t try anything to fancy because if you mess up and the other team scores it will be very embarrassing.
How to break the puck out of the defensive zone
One of the biggest responsibilities of the winger in the defensive zone is breaking the puck out. Usually you will be taking a pass from the defencemen and it is then up to you to receive the pass, control the puck and either break out with it, or make a quick pass to your centremen or other winger. Playing the puck off the boards and making yourself available to receive that pass from the defencemen is VERY important. Here is a great video from HockeyUS.com that explains how you can become more effective when breaking out of the defensive zone
A wingers duties in the offensive zone
When you are in the offensive zone your team is trying to score a goal. You will mainly play in the corner, inside the circle, and in front of the net. When the puck goes into your corner it is your job to get it out. If the puck is in your corner you have a few options, the most common and usually the best options are.
Carry the puck out and get a shot on net (your centermen or other winger should be there for a rebound).
Look for a man in front of the net and set him up with a pass
Look to see if the D is open, if so give them the puck.
Carry the puck up the boards a bit and cycle it back. Cycling the puck may be a bit advanced, so we will cover that in another article
Sometimes when the puck is in your corner the other teams defence will get there first, as it is their job to get the puck out. If this happens you can try to take the puck from them, or tie them up and wait for your centermen to help you out. A good trick is to put your knee between their legs and press them up against the boards, this makes it hard for them to move the puck.
If the puck is in the other corner then you have a few new jobs. When the puck is in the other corner you can.
Go to the net and look for a pass from the winger
If your winger looks like he is going to be tied up you could skate behind the net and call for a pass
If it looks like the other team may get the puck you could skate to the hash marks and try to cover a man / take away a pass.
If the other team does clear the puck being closer to the blue line makes it easier to back check.
Do not go into the other wingers corner unless you have learned a special drill in practice that calls for this. If your winger is in trouble, it is the job of the centermen to help him out.
Wingers duties in the Neutral Zone
Typically in the neutral zone you are either breaking out, or back checking. If you are on the attack you make hard passes through the neutral zone and feed the head man. This means if you get the puck out of your end you should be looking for a streaking centermen or your other winger. If there are no options try to break into their end, and if that is not an option just cross the red line and dump the puck in (then chase it, or get a line change). If your team mate has the puck and you are breaking out skate for open ice and try to get that lead pass.
If the other team has the puck in the neutral zone you are playing defense. You should be hustling to get back into position and get the puck from them / cause a turnover. Keep an eye on who has the puck, and where they might be skating to or who they might be passing to. If you see a potential passing lane try to block it.
I like to always think of the ice as lanes, lanes for them to skate and lanes for them to pass. I am always looking at the guy with the puck and thinking “what are his lanes, what are his options” I try to get in their lanes and take away options.
What about the faceoff?
For a winger you also have a role on the faceoff. When you faceoff you will be facing off against the other team. When you are on the face off both teams want the puck, but only one team can have it. This means your role during the face off is to either get the puck, or stop the other team from getting it. Talk to your centermen before the faceoff because he usually has a devious plan as to what he is going to do with the puck. Most face offs involve winning the puck back to the defensemen, when this happens your job is to tie up your man so your defensemen has time to make a play. Sometimes the centermen will pole the puck forward and have you pick it up with speed, or the centremen could tie up the other centermen and have you get the puck. This means you have to explode off of the hash mark and go right for the face off circle.
A wingers responsibilities on the power play
A power play means that the other team is playing with one less man on the ice. Your position does not change during the power play unless you have a set play with your team. When the other team is down a man they will play with two defensemen and two forwards, this means that on the faceoff there will one open spot. This means if you are on the open wing, and the centremen wins the faceoff to you, you will have some time to skate with the puck and set up a play.
Wingers duties on the penalty kill
When your team gets a penalty there will be one less man on the ice. This means that on the faceoff you need to pick a side to faceoff on. The proper side to faceoff on is the side closest to the center of the ice. If you were to faceoff on the side closest to the boards then the side closest to the center would be wide open, and give the other team more of an advantage if they win the faceoff.
When you are on the penalty kill you should think of your position more like another centermen. If the puck goes into the offensive zone either you or the centremen will go in after the puck, only one man should go deep into the offensive zone, while the other hangs back near the blue line.
When the puck is in the defensive zone most teams play in a box formation, this means your two defensemen will play down low, and the centermen and the winger play up high. The idea is your formation will look like a box, and you want to keep the other team outside of the box, and take away any passing or shooting opportunities.
If you have any other tips for positioning for forwards you can add them below. I will be adding positioning for the centermen and defence soon.
I found this great list of the top 10 fun hockey drills. I thought I would share it on our blog for any coach that is looking for some fun hockey drills.
A lot of hockey coaches want nothing more for their kids to win the championships, but a lot of hockey players want nothing more than to have fun. In most cases winning the championship is the most fun they will ever have, but it doesn’t hurt to have some fun along the way. Here is something that every coach should consider, if your players don’t show up to practice, they won’t learn much!
I know there are different rules at different levels of hockey, but I think that players will learn A LOT more if they enjoy practice, want to come, and want to learn. One of the best way’s to help players have fun at practice, and develop their skills is with fun hockey drills. That is why I have posted this article with the top fun hockey drills (according to the OMHA)
Scrimmaging is a great way to develop teamwork. These scrimmages can take place with any number of players on each side. (3 on 3, 5 on 5 etc) To further develop skills like passing, speed and teamwork, try playing cross ice 3 on 3.
Your standard player going in on his/her own against the goalie. The shootout helps to develop breakaway skills along with stick handling, puck control and shooting. This drill is also designed to help goalies challenge players approaching, square up to the shooter and build confidence. The player would come down on the goalie from centre ice. It is important to encourage creativity and more importantly, FUN!
Option 2: Relay – Passing / Scoring Skills
Divide players into 2 groups
On whistle first player in each line goes in for shot on net,
keep shooting until goal is scored.
After goal, player skates outside blue line, picks up another
puck and goes in with 2nd player in line for a 2 on 0.
Continue 3 on 0, 4 on 0 until all players in line have gone.
Relay is won by first team who slides over blue line after last goal is scored.
Each player must touch puck before shot on net follow
TWO ON ONE
This drill is designed for both forwards and defence. Its purpose is to develop defensive skills along with offensive skills. There are many variations of this drill. Ex. Have a defenseman breakout from behind the net and pass to a winger on the boards at the hash marks. The winger then makes an outlet pass to the centre who is skating up the middle. They both clear the zone and turn around to produce a 2 on 1 on the defenseman who started the play. Depending on skill level, a coach could dump the puck in and have the goalie stop it behind the net for the defenseman, then continue as stated above.
ONE PUCK HORSESHOE
Using one offensive zone only, split the team into two lines and have them line up in the corner. The coach will set up one puck centred midway between the top of the circle and the blue line. On the coach’s whistle, the first player from each line skates out of the corner, around the neutral zone dot and competes for the one puck. This now becomes a one-on-one drill. Play until a goal is scored or until the goalie controls the puck. Designed to develop both offensive and defensive skating and turning. This also develops the goalies ability and confidence on one-on-ones.
Players line up in both corners in one zone. The first player from one line will skate out and around the neutral zone dot, and receive a pass from the first player in the opposing line. The
player who just made the pass will skate out and receive a pass from the opposite corner. Repeat. This is common for pre-game warm-ups. This drill gets the legs moving and allows all players to control and pass the puck.
Create 2-4 groups. Each group competes against one another. The relay race can consist of anything from turns, jumping over sticks, sliding under objects or scoring goals. The idea is to create a fun way for players to skate as fast as they can while performing other tasks (i.e. stick handling, turning etc).
This will create better balance and agility. Competing against team mates will push them to try harder and will create friendly competition.
BRITISH BULL DOG
Designed to be a fun way to develop agility and lateral movement. The object is to have one player, “The Bull Dog” catch/touch the other players. Once a player has been caught by the “Bull Dog”, they become a Bull-Dog. Have all players put their sticks behind the goalie line. Select a Bull Dog, who will line up at centre ice. The rest of the players start on the goal line and their objective is to make it to the opposite goal line without being caught by the bull dog. The game begins each time the coach yells, “British Bull Dog” This process is repeated at each end until there is one player remaining. This person shall be crowned the winner.
A wide variety of options. A player favourite is the “Clover Drill”.
This drill is a combination of pass receiving and quick releases. Pylons are set up on four “corners” of the offensive circle with a net directly in front of the circle. Players will start from the circles centre dot and move around a pylon and return to the centre point to receive a pass for a quick shot. The player must
always face the passer/net. Players will go around all four pylons for four shots. Then the next player in line takes the starting position.
Encourage players to try forehand, backhand and saucer passes. Have them pass over, under and around obstacles. A fun game could be monkey in the middle. Here is a great passing & receiving circuit:
04 passes to 01, 01 – 02, 02 – 03, 03 back to 04 in the slot (rotate)
Pass with Accuracy
Move laterally giving and receiving passes on the outside of the cones
“Pig in the Middle”
One checker between 3 players, with players continuously passing the puck until the checker intercepts. Checker then trades places and becomes a passer
Figure 8 Passing
One player passes to partner who performs figure-8 pattern around pylons. Pass receiver must maintain eye contact with the passer at all times. One touch passes or puck control around pylons before return pass is made.
A great drill to develop leg strength and skating power. Have two players stand one in front of the other facing the same direction. Each player will hold their stick in one hand and hold onto the other players stick in the opposite hand. The player in the back can go down to their knees and hold the sticks. The player in front will pull the other player the length of the ice. Then the players will switch. Players in the back can also lie on their stomachs.
For more drills I recommend the Weiss tech hockey playbook and hockey Drillbook, you can buy them separately, or together as a bundle Learn more about the playbook and drillbook here. If you don’t know Jeremy Weiss you should definitely follow his blog as he is a very smart coach, and he is always sharing new drills for all age levels.
Good players need talent but they also need good coaches
The most important quality you need to coach is enthusiasm. People respond brilliantly to an eager, hard working leader.
It takes time to build up coaching skills and experience, but help is available. A task of the OMHA is to look after the development of coaching and coaches at every level in minor hockey.
To become a qualified coach in a particular sport, you will need to take the appropriate coaching qualifications offered by the national governing body of that sport.
In the meantime here are a few tips for coaching success.
Why do you want to coach and what do you want to achieve?
A Question of Sport
The better your understanding of the techniques and skills of a sport the better equipped you
are to pass these on.
Patience and praise work a lot better than criticism and shouting.
Variety is the Key
Avoid games where kids have to sit out and don’t make all your sessions competitive
Teach Skills & Demonstrate
Demonstrating a skill works much better than talking about it. If you can’t do it, find someone
Always make sure there’s enough equipment or kit for all. Create small groups of children
rather than one big group.
Actions speak louder than words. Body language is important. Smiles and positive gestures work
Mind & Body
A grasp of how the body responds to exercise and training and an ability to adopt safe practices
and prevent injury are important. So too is confidence building, goal setting, emotional
control, concentration skills – coaches work on the mindset as well as the body.
Sense and Sensitivity
Some children take longer than others to learn so adopt your style accordingly. To keep
children motivated it helps to be consistent, set achievable goals and give frequent feedback.
Take it from the Top
Lead by example and gain trust and respect. Coaches of children are role models and this
carries responsibility. How you behave, dress and your attitude all set an example. If you
adhere to consistent high standards this will rub off.
Many hockey players and parents have questioned whether hockey games or practices help a player develop more? Take a look at the stats below and you will know which is better.
One of the biggest issues surrounding the development of hockey players is the number of practices they have compared to the number of games they play. An ideal, realistic ratio is 2 practices for every 1 game played for ages 7 – 13. While some associations have no problem in meeting the recommended ratio, others have great difficulty in finding enough ice time meet this practice to game ratio. Are games really necessary, or all they are cracked up to be? Not when you look at the stats below, especially if you are trying to develop skills.
Howtohockey note: Keep in mind that children can practice hockey almost anywhere. You do not have to wait until a planned practice to practice your hockey skills. Encourage children to practice at home and with friends. Look for outdoor rinks in the winter and places to practice shooting and stick handling in the summer.
A PRACTICE BY THE NUMBERS
The following facts and figures relate to a 60-minute practice session:
1 efficient practice will give a player more skill development than 11 games collectively.
Each player should have a puck on his or her stick for 8 – 12 minutes.
Each player should have a minimum of 30 shots on goal.
Players will miss the net over 30% of the time in a minor hockey practice.
Coaches should try to run 4 – 5 different drills / games / activities each practice. More is not better; execution of what you do is development.
No more than 5 minutes should be spent in front of a teaching board each practice.
If you have 10 players on the ice, strive to keep 4 – 5 players moving at all times.
If you have 15 players on the ice, strive to keep 9 – 10 players moving at all times.
If you have 20 players on the ice, strive to keep 14 – 15 players moving at all times.
A HOCKEY GAME BY THE NUMBERS :
The following statistics were recorded during a 60-minute Peewee level hockey game:
Players will have the puck on their stick for an average of 8 seconds per game.
Players will take an average of 1 – 2 shots per game.
99% of the feedback coaches give players is when they have the puck. Ironically players only have the puck on their stick for 0.2% of the game.
1 efficient practice will give a player more skill development than 11 games collectively.
If you look at these stats, how can we expect kids to develop when they are playing more games than practicing? Studies show that the better kids are at something, the more they will enjoy it, and the longer they will play. Many kids quit hockey because they get to the level where they can’t compete due to lack of skill – therefore it is no longer fun. At the ages of 5 – 6 or 5 – 7, the practice to game ratio should be even higher (6: 1) and realistically there is no need for formal games.
Big thanks to the OMHA for allowing us to publish some of their hockey tips and hockey drills
Hockey Skill Development can be a straightforward task once you have taken the time to develop a good hockey practice or seasonal plan. A practice / seasonal plan is made up of a number of important components that should be given strong consideration each time you develop a plan. Information republished with permission from Home Town Hockey
Practice plan format to record your plan:
Meets all your needs for information
Archive your plans for easy reference at a later date.
Measurable outcomes for the plan:
Players of all ages need to know the goals of each practice
Record information about the execution of the plan
Elements of the plan:
Practices / drills should be more active than passive
A well balanced practice contains about 5 activities
Elements of a plan may include warm up, teaching components, technical skill execution, drills under game like conditions, fun elements, competitive activities, and a cool down
Assign the coach responsibilities to lead the drill:
Ensure that all support people understand the purpose of the drills so they can provide appropriate feedback to guide improvement
All coaches should be engaged in the delivery of each drill
Coaches may be required to provide stimuli to start or maintain drill focus
Take pride in illustrating good plans
Make it a habit to use international symbols
Descriptions to include:
Written descriptions should include details of the drill execution, key teaching points, and key execution points
Plans should note any extraordinary equipment required
The following is a guide to what types of skills should be taugt during a hockey practice. As you can see for the initiation stage you should focus mostly on technical skills such as shooting, skating, stopping and so on, however for Bantam and Midget all skills should be taught equally.
INITIATION 85% Technical skills • 15% Individual tactics
NOVICE 75% Technical skills • 15% Individual tactics • 10% • Team tactics
ATOM 50% Technical skills • 20% Individual tactics • 15% • Team tactics • 10 % Team play • 5% Strategy
PEEWEE 45% Technical skills • 20% Individual tactics • 15% • Team tactics • 10 % Team play • 5% Strategy
BANTAM 40% Technical skills • 15% Individual tactics • 20% • Team tactics • 15 % Team play • 10% Strategy
MIDGET 35% Technical skills • 20% Individual tactics • 20% • Team tactics • 15 % Team play • 10% Strategy
Below are tips that will help a coach run a successful and productive hockey practice.
There are 10 key ingredients a coach should mix into each practice. Collectively these lead to enjoyment and learning for both players and coaches
Coaches should have a minimum of 50 pucks in their bucket.
Players must be on time, all the time. Coaches set the standard and lead by example. Parents must be encouraged to buy in.
Don’t waste ice time stretching. Stretching should be performed in the dressing room prior to the ice time.
The use of stations in practices leads to a dynamic practice. Stations keep participants active enabling them to achieve high levels of repetitions. Have players spend 3 – 8 minutes per station before switching. 2 – 3 stations are recommended. ( Must be a coach at each station )
Basic Skill Development (skating, puck control, passing, shooting) should comprise 90% of your practice time. Remember you can work skills in game-like drills. Skill Development should not be considered boring.
Positive and Specific Feedback are imperative. Consider the Head Coach who always stands at center ice and runs drills. How often during the practice is this coach able to effectively teach??? Teaching is done in the trenches (corners, lines).
Routines in practice are dangerous. Players will pace themselves and become bored very quickly. Routine practices develop great practice players. Strive to change things up, create an element of surprise, utilize variety, and generate enthusiasm. Players also enjoy time on their own. 2 – 5 minutes per practice should be sufficient. This enables players to be creative and try new things.
“Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I might remember, involve me and I’ll understand.”
Practice Execution by coaches is of principle importance. Great drills that aren’t executed properly by coaches are useless. Execution involves using all staff on the ice, having pucks spotted in the proper areas, informing players of the whistle sequence (1st whistle begin, 2nd whistle stop, 3rd whistle begins next group) and providing appropriate feedback. To assist in practice execution, name your drills ie. “Killer Bees”.
Relate what you do in practices to games and vice versa. “Players, we are doing this drill because in our last game we were unable to finish around the net.” or “This drill will assist you in keeping your stick and body away from the checker and in an effective scoring position.”
Originially printed in the OMHA Hockey Drill book. Published with permission from OMHA Hometown Hockey
KEEP THEM MOVING
Whether its practice, clinic, or camp, ice sessions should be designed to engage every participant consistently. Kids don’t attend practice to watch others play. Kids enjoy practices when they have fun and they experience an improvement in their overall skills.
EMPHASIZE THE FUNDAMENTALS
Build a foundation that will never crack by properly teaching the basics. Learning the fundamentals and perfecting the same basics at every level of play is essential to having any chance of success.
If one player does not execute the fundamentals of his position correctly, the most sophisticated drill or play in the world will not work. It is unfair and not fun to focus on running plays that will fail 9 out of 10 times. Kid’s practices that focus on Team Play over executing fundamentals are cheating every participant out of the chance to learn the game properly.
Do not attempt to replicate plays you see in NHL and Junior games! Every scheme that is attempted in a junior or NHL game is supported by years of training in the fundamentals of the game.
INCORPORATE A PROGRESSION OF SKILL DEVELOPMENT FOR EVERY PARTICIPANT
Regardless of a player’s skill level, it is your responsibility as a coach to teach every kid on your team. It is no secret that if kids experience improvement in their skills, no matter what their athletic ability may be, they will continue to participate and return to learn more. Teach the skills in the proper order so you can continue to improve and build on each training session.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR DEVELOPMENT
Following are some general observations of youth sports as stated in the Long Term Athlete
Young athletes under-train, over-compete; Low training to competition ratios in early years
Training in early years focuses on outcomes (winning) rather than processes (optimal training)
Poor training between 6-16 years of age cannot be fully corrected (athletes will never reach genetic potential)
The best coaches are encouraged to work at elite level;
Basically it takes 10,000 hours or 10,000 repetitions (Permanent Muscle Memory) to master a skill. With the ages of 9 – 12 being the most important for skill acquisition it is during this time period that the skills included in the specialty clinics need to be repeated consistently. To that end, the skills were chosen so that a coaching staff can work on these specific skills until a reasonable level of mastery is achieved and then move onto more advanced skills. The focus of this session is to provide examples of how to introduce drill progressions focusing on skill development and the use of small-sided games to re-enforce and develop player’s skills. These drills force the player to think in a game-like situation, fun, competitive environment.