Why you should stop using the “bag skate” as a coaching tool

There are better ways to motivate your team.

The bag skate.

If you’ve played hockey, you’ve probably been put through one.

Maybe your team wasn’t focused. Maybe they weren’t working hard enough. Maybe someone stepped out of line and broke a team rule.

Maybe the coach was just having a bad day.

Whatever the case, the bag skate is the act of skating a team to the point of exhaustion, without pucks.

The most famous type of a bag skate is a “Herbie.” It’s the famous skating you see in the movie ‘ Miracle’ after a lacklustre loss to Norway. Herb Brooks yells “again” and Craig Patrick blows the whistle to start a Herbie.

“Herbie” = Goal line –> near blue line –> back to the goal line –> red line –> back to the goal line –> far blue line –> back to the goal line –> far goal line –> back to the goal line.

Perhaps this was an effective tool for a coach back in 1980. But now? Well it’s old school and we’ve come up with better ways to teach players a lesson.

Why does a coach do a bag skate?

The bag skate has traditionally been used to punish a team after a terrible performance or grossly breaking team rules. Other times coaches do a mini-bag skate to get their team’s attention when they are having a terrible practice.

Taking a quick jog back memory lane… When I was in high school I was asked to come practice with the local junior team. Before the practice, I am dressed and waiting by the door for the Zamboni to finish up while there was some commotion with a few players pacing back and forth. They were freaking out because the assistant coach had placed a puck bucket with a case of beer at the centre ice dot.

What I quickly pieced together was the team was very concerned they were about to be bag skated due to the fact one of the players was seen in a gas station buying beer under-aged with a fake ID by the team’s assistant coach.

Fortunately for me, the assistant coach was playing a prank and sending a message softly to the team. It would have been one heck of a way to be introduced to that team.

There are better ways to motivate your team . . .



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Greg Revak

Greg Revak is a Certified Level 4 USA Hockey Coach. You can find him on Twitter @CoachRevak. or sign up for his Hockey IQ Newsletter.

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