Stan Butler Ice Hockey Practice Coach CHL North Bay Battalion

Stan Butler – How to Run an Effective Hockey Practice

In Leadership by The Coaches Site

A practice is where coaches create their team’s identity.

While a coach’s role in the game is important, especially at higher levels where an in-game adjustment or playing a hunch can be the difference between winning and losing, it’s the work and preparation that goes into practice that ultimately determines a team’s success.  If we learned anything at our annual TeamSnap Hockey Coaches Conference, it’s that while coaches may have different philosophies, systems and demeanors, they all identify practice as being the foundation of their individual programs.

Even in an age where technology is so influential in terms of how coaches teach and communicate with players, nothing can replace working with players on the ice in practice.

So how do you run an effective practice?

That question is not so easy to answer. Every coach has his or her own style and structure.  There isn’t a right or wrong way to lead a practice. However we learned this summer that there are some things to consider when planning an effective practice.

Stan Butler is the coach and general manager of the North Bay Battalion and a veteran of over 1400 CHL games and has also worked with a number of Canada’s elite talent on the international stage.  Translation – Stan has run A LOT of practices!

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Stan shared some of his philosophies on how he prepares for practices at our inaugural conference in Toronto this past summer.  In his words, “Your team either gets better or worse each practice. They don’t stay the same”. Stan comes from a teaching background and it’s clear that he has adopted methods from other sports and outside influences to keep practice fresh and competitive.

Also, there are several factors that will dictate how coaches approach practice. Stan encourages coaches to consider the following:

  • The age of your players
  • Their level of ability
  • The number of players on your team
  • The amount of time allotted for your practice
  • How many practices per week, per month, per year
  • The number of coaching staff you have available
  • The coaching staff’s level of expertise
  • The arena you are using for your practice

Check out this excerpt from Stan’s presentation. Hopefully, there are some tips that will help jump start your practices early in the season.

Of course if you enjoy what you hear, consider signing up for a FREE 30 day trial on our TCS | MEMBERS site for access to our entire library of videos from our annual TeamSnap Hockey Coaches Conference.

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The Coaches Site

The Coaches Site an online resource for hockey coaches and hosts of the TeamSnap Hockey Coaches Conference.


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