For many of us, tryouts are over and there’s a weird lull between now and the hockey season officially starting. For some, there is little ice time, and even fewer chances to play games. Which is ultimately a positive as everyone should get a bit of a break and have the ability to play other sports.
For coaches, however, it can also be a time to reevaluate your past season, learn about your new roster, and focus on your own education as you prepare what your first practices or training camps will look like. Here are three tips to make the most of your off-season.
1. Reevaluate your own system
When I say system here, I don’t mean what you run on the ice for your forecheck or power play, but instead, I mean how you structure your practice, what you say or don’t say in the locker room, or how or what you teach your players.
Make a list of the five things that went really well in the prior season, or even last few seasons. Now do the opposite and list five things you think went poorly.
Now first, focus on what you don’t think went well. How can you fix those? One thing that stood out for my team was our passing game. I felt we were too selfish in our games, got out passed, and created a lot of turnovers by holding the puck for too long.
To fix that, I am introducing a few new drills early on in the season to put an emphasis on passing. To couple that with off-ice work, I have some dryland games we will play as well that help familiarize themselves with their teammates and help promote passing and working together.
However, this new emphasis on passing conflicts with the practice plans I had originally thought I would use this season because one thing I thought went well was our practice flow and use of the ice.
This isn’t a major contradiction, but it does point out how these reevaluations are more than just replacing the bad, you do need to look at the good and ensure they play a role in undoing the bad of the previous season.
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