Hope your season is off to a great start!
First a few housekeeping items and a little background to set the stage.
1. Practice plans will be sent out every couple of weeks throughout the youth hockey season (September through March)
2. As an FYI, some plans will be done two weeks in a row, others will change weekly. However, even in the practice plans that are not repeated, (consecutive weeks) in their entirety you will still see some individual drills/games/activities that are repeated from the previous week. While it is still important to repeat practices twice, even at 14U, we must strive to “emphasize repetition without repetitiveness”. (Thanks to Ken Martel for that wonderful phrase!)
3. This years plans are being used for the 14U age group, and should be looked at in the context of the age group, skill level and ice time that is available.
4. Remember that these plans are by no means perfect and I look forward to you all making them better as you use them with your own teams…when you do, please share the new improved version and or your variation back with me.
5. Practice will be defined as:
a) Dynamic Warm-Up
b) On-Ice Practice
c) Off-Ice Training
d) Cool Down
6. Since we are looking at training players at the 14U age group, we will of course adhere to the high performance, age appropriate training principles for this age. The focus will be on the following general points of emphasis:
a) Under-Speed, Skill and Technical Training
b) Random Play, Skill and Technical Training
c) Over-speed Training
d) Random Play at Tempo (Transfer of Under-Speed Blocked Skills and Random Skills into Play)
e) Competitive, Conceptual Small Area Games Emphasizing Decision Making and Awareness,
f) Team Play
7. As discussed in the USAH CEP clinics, an important part of coaching is the formatting of practice based on the specific parameters within which you are working. This year’s format is based on the daily availability of the specific coaches and their expertise, as well as the number of practices per week and whether or not we are sharing the ice
8. Practice format for this year is based on three practices per week:
a) Practice 1: Skill & Technical Training (Skating, Puck Skills and Goaltending)
b) Practice 2 (shared): Hockey concepts and habits through small area games and activities.
c) Practice 3: Team Play Concepts
On a side note and as a ‘shout out’ to my coach and mentor, Lou Vairo, please take note of the “Vairo Red Army Agility Warm-Up” in the team practice for 9-8-16. Named after him, this is a practice warm-up drill that Coach Vairo (I had the great fortune of playing two seasons for him ‘78-‘80) had us do at least once per week throughout the season. It constantly changed and evolved in regard to the movements and the degree of difficulty. (I had never before done a somersault on the ice.) These actions always combined skating agility, balance, coordination, body control, quickness, etc., with the ability to handle the puck and forced us to improve our athleticism on our skates. I am not sure what it was that led me down this path but I think that this is a simple, fun, very effective and challenging warm-up drill to enhance athleticism for all ages.
Lastly, keep in mind that the real importance in teaching hockey lies less with the practice plan than it does with the coach who is doing the teaching.
Have fun, stay enthused, and remember to ‘hold your players accountable’
Best wishes for a great season,