6 Ways to Make your Hockey Practices More Effective

The Ice “Crisis:”
It’s no secret that there’s a shortage of ice in a lot of hockey towns. Different organizations have tried to address this problem in different ways… with some outcomes working out better than others. Many organizations run half-ice practices, with two teams sharing the ice. Other programs are running “station practices,” with 50-60 players rotating through various stations. Some programs are still using the “old-fashioned” method of full-ice practices, with one team on the ice at a time. I believe most organizations are using some combination of the scheduling methods above.

The purpose of this article isn’t to critique the various “ice accommodation strategies” that have been tried over the years, nor is it to attempt to solve the world’s ice scheduling issues (although that might be another topic for another day). What I’m looking to accomplish here, is to set forth a philosophy that you can use with your team, regardless of the stance your organization has adopted.

Making Wise Use of Your Ice Sessions:
There are endless philosophies and opinions on how hockey players should be developed, what types of skills should be taught, and at what age the various skills and concepts should be introduced. I have my opinions, and I’m sure you have yours! Regardless of your school of thought, one simple development strategy holds true… teams MUST make the most of their ice time, especially when ice is as scarce and expensive as it is today!

Here are a few tips I recommend:

1. Take it Outside! Lots of stuff can be worked on off the ice, away from the rink. An obvious one is conditioning. It kills me to use precious ice time for skating ladders! If players, coaches, and teams all got on board to consistently execute a well-designed, hockey-specific workout program, both during the off-season and in-season, then conditioning wouldn’t need to be addressed in practice.
Check out our free, 3-Part video series on Off-Ice Training for Hockey.

2. Off-Ice Skills Sessions: Conditioning isn’t the only thing that can be developed away from the rink. Many teams are holding off-ice skills sessions to supplement their on-ice practices. Modern advances in off-ice training aids have made the experience much more realistic for players looking to develop their stickhandling, deking, shooting, passing, and even some aspects of skating. Getting set up to hold off-ice skills sessions takes a bit of financial investment up front, but the return on investment in the long run can be HUGE. Here are some examples of off-ice training sessions we’ve run:




Visit our friends at HockeyShot to start collecting your off-ice training aids.

3. On-Ice-Specific Development: On the flip side, there are some skills that can only be developed on the ice. Skating technique, agility, passing in motion, 1 on 1’s, 2 on 1’s and other battling tactics all fall into this category. Positional play and systems work are also tactics that must be developed on the ice. Stuff that can’t be worked on OFF the ice, should be highly stressed ON the ice!

4. Homework Assignments: Another place a lot of practice time is wasted is at the whiteboard, while drills are being explained. I know a lot of coaches who assign homework before practices. Usually these are web links to video diagrams, animations, or demonstrations of new drills. There may still need to be a quick explanation, but if the player has done his/her homework, there learning curve is significantly reduced.
Many coaches have used the videos in our Coaches’ Training Course as homework for their players.

5. Core Drills: I also recommend having a core set of 10-15 drills you use on a regular basis. Players will begin to memorize these drills, and know them by name. You’ll eventually be able to just call out the drill, and players will get themselves set up without needing the explanation again. This tactic can help keep practices running smoothly, and it also reinforces the concept of perfecting drills and skill sets.

6. Coach’s Preparation: Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a HUGE believer in planning every single practice. Keeping your thoughts organized on the ice is extremely important to running a smooth practice. In my opinion, the best way to keep yourself, and your practice organized is with a computerized diagrammer/practice planner. The two I use (and recommend) are DrillDraw and HockeyShare. Both are phenomenal!

It doesn’t have to be “either/or…”
Lastly, many coaches and administrators have the mistaken belief that systems play shouldn’t be taught too early, because it detracts from skill development. This can be true if you LET it be true, but I believe it doesn’t have to be an “either/or” proposition. If you make proper use of your team sessions, both on and off the ice, and develop individual and team skills in the proper order, then positional and systems concepts can naturally be built into your practices, even at very young ages!

As players begin to learn the recurring patterns of the game, because of well-structured practice sessions, they will begin to see the play better, and react more quickly when those same patterns present themselves in real games. It can be done, and you’re the one who can do it! Check out our playbook for more information on developing systems hockey at young ages.

What have we missed?
Are there any on-ice productivity tips you’re using that we didn’t mention here? Leave your tips in the comments below!




HockeyOT was designed by pro hockey players & coaches. It’s like having your own personal hockey strength & conditioning coach at a fraction of the cost

It’s no secret I’m a huge believer in off-ice training. In my last post we talked about the importance of understanding who your competition is, and how to gain an advantage over them. You an check that post out here: Who IS my Competition Anyways…?

Biggest Potential to Gain an Advantage:
In that post, we talked about some of the on-ice factors that go into being an effective player… these on-ice factors are definitely important, however, where you’re really going to gain an advantage is off the ice!

Off-ice strength training and conditioning is probably the biggest category that will give you an advantage over your opponent. There’s nothing better than being bigger, faster, and stronger than your opponent… and knowing it! And having a solid off-ice training program is key to making that happen!

Introducing HockeyOT:
Recently, I had the chance to chat with the founder of HockeyOT, Dr. Chad Moreau. As I was introduced to this program, I knew it would be something that would benefit a lot of young athletes, and I was excited to share it!

As soon as I got my membership set-up, I put myself through the baseline assessments, and started in on it. In this video I walk you through the set-up process, and give you a quick look inside the membership area.

HockeyOT was designed by pro hockey players & coaches. It’s like having your own personal hockey strength & conditioning coach at a fraction of the cost. Once you get in and get your account set up, you’ll go through your baseline assessments and get your program designed for you. From there, you’ll be able to progress, track your improvements, and compare your results against other athletes of your age and gender. Another cool feature is that you can compare your results against the various Pro Athletes that are also on the program… That’s right, there are multiple NHL’ers on this program, running the same baseline tests as you!

Conclusion:
Needless to say, this is a solid program, and definitely one I recommend. So, go ahead and check it out, and get ready to start the process of dominating your opponent!

Breakouts: Color-coded Breakout System




Color-coded Breakout System and Options

As we discussed in our video on Hockey Systems for Youngsters, structured systems CAN be taught to young hockey players, and a color-coded breakout system is one way of doing this.

Young hockey players are often more advanced physically than mentally. Because of this, players at higher levels of play can typically execute the basic patterns of a breakout (i.e. skate the puck behind the net and pass to a winger on the boards) long before they can read which option to select in a given situation.

Color-coding a breakout system allows the “read” portion of “read and react” to be passed along to the coach, who can call the plays from the bench using the color code. Well-trained players will hear the call, and react accordingly.

As players get older, they are taught to read the plays for themselves.

CLICK HERE to watch our video on “Initiating a Hockey Breakout”

Enjoy!

Shooting: Hockey Radar Gun iPhone App




Track the Speed of your Hockey Shot with this Radar Gun iPhone App!

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the developers of a new iPhone app called Speedhero. I took a look at a few of their YouTube videos, and was blown away by what I saw:

The folks down at Speedhero have come up with a way to track the speed of a shot using your phone!

It all centers around a basic equation you’ve probably seen before D=RxT (Distance = Rate x Time). If you have any two of these components, you can figure out the third. With Speedhero, you program in your “Distance” from the goal, then it uses the microphone in your iPhone to pick up two important sounds: your stick hitting the puck, and the puck hitting the target. By tracking those two points of impact, we now have “Time” to go along with our “Distance.” From there, the program can calculate the “Rate” at which the puck arrived. Pretty sweet!

One quick thing I should mention. The current version of Speedhero for the iPhone was designed primarily for Soccer. I contacted the developers, and asked what the difference would be for hockey. I was told there are differences in the flight patterns of a puck vs a ball, and that those differences should be accounted for in the algorithm. So, when the hockey version comes out it will be a bit more accurate for us hockey players. However, this is still a fun and inexpensive way to track your progress over the summer. ENJOY!

Introduction: Course Overview




Welcome to Weiss Tech Hockey’s Home Hockey Training Center!

As you know, hockey is a complex game that combines MANY different skills. Great hockey players can skate well, stickhandle, shoot, pass… they’re strong, fast, smart, and make the right decision at the right time!

One of the biggest mistakes many hockey players make is that they only work on their skills at the rink; they only work on their speed and strength at the rink; and they only work on their hockey smarts at the rink. In today’s game, if you’re only developing your abilities during your regular practices and games, you’re probably not going to achieve your full potential. The best players I know are at the gym on their own, working on their hockey skills off the ice, and improving their decision-making-abilities AWAY FROM THE RINK AS WELL!

Last summer I put together my Coaches’ Training Course, which focused on systems play, and other “mental aspects” of the game. This summer I’ll be focusing more on Individual Skill development. I recently re-released my off-ice strength and conditioning program, the S3 Formula, which focuses on developing raw Speed, Strength, and Size. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be walking you through the process of developing a Home Hockey Training Center that will allow you to improve your Individual Skills at home!

Let’s get started!

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