3 Easy Steps to Increased Hockey Development

September 30, 2009


Hockey development for young athletes is a vast and complex topic. You can’t blame coaches for feeling slightly intimidated by the process of hockey development, especially when you consider all the many areas that need attention if a player is to acheive his or her highest potential? It can be extremely difficult to provide your team with the right combination of coaching instruction, on-ice drills, and conditioning training!

Here are a 3 simple tips that might help you get started:

  1. Start simple. Try starting your season with a few “fundamental” practices so you can get a good idea of your players’ abilities with respect to basic skills such as forward and backward skating, pivots, stops and starts, passing, stickhandling, shooting, etc. It’s amazing how much you can learn about your team by doing this. Its surprising to see that even at high levels of hockey, many players can’t perform important fundamental skills such as pivoting both ways or making an effective backhand pass. Use your findings here as you map out your plan for the season
  2. Perfect skill sets before moving on. Resist the temptation to move on to more complex drills and skills if the players aren’t performing well on the concepts they are currently working on. Slow down and get things right before introducing more complicated variations of drills.
  3. Understand the development needs of players at specific ages. This should be a “no-brainer,” but you’d be surprised at how many coaches forget this concept when pressure to win crops up. Skill Development and general athleticism should be the main focus for younger players. Although some positional play can be introduced, it should never be at the expense of skill development. As players progress and get older, more attention can be given to systems and strategy.

Obviously, the topic of hockey development is much broader and deeper than what we’ve discussed here, but these simple tips should at least get you pointed in the right direction. Hockey is such a dynamic game that development becomes extremely multifaceted. On-ice skills development, cognitive development (thinking the game better), and physical strength development are three main areas of concern for good coaches. So, not only do today’s coaches need to actively engage players in each of these hockey development areas, but they must also tailor their drills and instruction to fit the age, skill-level, and maturity levels (both physical and mental) of their team.

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