“Practice, Practice, Practice”

The air was cool and crisp. Voices were everywhere. Ringette players were chatting prior to practice. The “Zamboni” was just finishing its faithful duty of cleaning the ice.

A blend of anticipation and excitement was in the air as players and coaches were about to launch into another on-ice training session in pursuit of season goals.

The start of a practice is full of hope and the thrill of exploring one’s skill, and enjoying the passion for sport and physical activity.

The current Long Term Athlete Development model, championed by Dr. Istvan Balyi a leading expert on season and multi-year planning, promotes a 10 year plan for athlete development. He recommends a lot of practices aimed at developing a variety of core physical attributes.

Running a good practice requires planning, skill and good communication.

One coach once told me it can take hours to determine  what needed to be done and how to coordinate each drill so that the practice flows.  Certainly writing it all down with fancy graphics and description can be daunting. However, keeping notes for yourself is key.

Don’t show up at the rink without any notion of a plan.

Running a great practice does take experience.

Here are some key points from to make you popular with your Ringette athletes and fellow coaches:

  • Build a season plan with your coaching staff, and use it to highlight generally what will be addressed and when in the season;
  • Use a practice plan template (click here to get the one I use) that includes a title, description, diagram, duration); Use MS Excel, or print blanks and use pencil and paper technology;
  • When starting a drill keep instructions short (under 2 minutes) and indicate the name of the drill, how it relates to something in the game, why it is important to our team and individual success, use a coaching board to show where players will go, and offer a demo of the drill showing that is expected;
  • Use “Key Teaching Points” (i.e. what you expect of the athlete: body position, hand, leg and stick position, ice patterns, speed, and execution)
  • If the players are not performing the drill, call them in, have them “take a knee,” and repeat what you notice, and the correction you expect; have one or two players do the drill properly and reinforce the key teaching points
  • With young players, consider groups of 4 with a coach to focus on some skill in order to maximize repetition and keep focus.
  • Use all spaces and all coaches, and bring an extra net on to the ice to support the quality of the skill stations.
  • Spend 10 to 20 minutes minimum on goalie specific training, allowing them dedicated space on the ice for their workouts.
  • Consider one and two person patterns to support game play tactics, to keep the mental focus, and to reduce complexity.
  • Use warm-up, workout and cool-down phases
  • Use games to entertain and engage; players enjoy head to head competition (1 v 1, 2 v 2, 3 v 3); games of tag to build ring protection skills and evasion are great for younger players.
  • Have drills that encourage choices and challenge decision-making with older players (Petite and older).
  • Keep your paper or e-copies of your plans for re-use.
  • Make notes and adjust drills based on athlete response and your observation of success.

Ideas for you:

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