Every coach wants to have more practice time, however, are we making each drill we use productive from a development perspective?
When it comes to warm-up drills, the mindset is to use this time to get players touching the puck, getting their blood flowing, and feeling good. As a coach, is there a way we can look at warm-up as a way to improve technical skills, focus on spatial awareness, and set a highly competitive standard for practice?
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As a coach, it is critical to assess how we structure our warm-ups in practice. In a youth hockey game, you are only given a few minutes to warm up, then the game is on, so we need to create an environment that replicates that in practice. We need to create an environment early in practice that will enhance the competitive level of our players, while still using this time to promote technical and tactical skill development.
The following are five warm-up drills coaches can incorporate into their practices to make warm-up more effective for player development:
1. In-zone chaos
Each player has one puck and must stay inside the one end zone. On the whistle, players skate at top speed controlling the puck with their eyes up.
On the second whistle, players skate at three-quarter speed using only their inside edges (sculling).
- Players skating at top speed on each whistle quickly perform a jab turn to change direction (encourages players to scan ice prior to the turn).
- At each whistle, players perform a skate-to-stick kick up.
- One colour stands still stickhandling, the other colour skates at top speed around the zone. Encourage team skating around to attack the triangles of players standing still.
- Puck control
- Scanning ice with puck possession
- Spatial awareness
2. Partner passing chaos
Players partner up and have one puck between each other. Everyone is skating around inside the end zone. Partners are passing back and forward with each other.