We’ve all seen it. The Instagram video of a player dangling through a stickhandling device, looping around a cone, lifting up a tire to drag a puck out, and then going in for a shot on the goalie.
They look good, and for all intents and purposes, have a place in player training. Yet more and more I continue to see these kinds of drills taking over at team practices.
And so, to coaches working with their teams, I say this: leave your toys at home.
Like I said, they have a place. Properly used, you can teach some skills at a private lesson with some of these training tools. But the majority of the time these tools do more to make a good looking video than to develop a player or a team.
Too many kids get caught standing in line waiting for someone to go, and what are they learning? These are skills that serve nearly zero purpose in a game.
When was the last time you saw a player lift up a 25 pound tire with their stick to dig out a puck in-game? Or dangle carefully to a few perfectly lined up defensemen? All with no pressure from another player?
I have written in the past about small area games and their benefits, such as drastically increasing puck touches, but another key aspect is that they need to simulate real game situations and teach players to think how they will on the ice.
The toys on the ice don’t create that real simulation, the thinking that goes into those drills don’t translate to a game. They instead translate into how to get that drill right and not getting yelled at by the coach.
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