Wednesday Drill of the Week: Four Lanes

No diagram for this weeks drill, just an explanation.

This is a great way to bring in quality skill reptitions into your practices. Can be done with any age, we do this with our players at Colby and I did it this morning with squirts. Emphasis is on quality of rep, not speed. Players have to focus on the technique of the skill they are working on.

How it’s set up: simply divide the ice into four lanes using cones. Put three lines of cones up the ice (the long way), two in line with the dots and one in line with the center of the ice. These cones can run from the tops of the circles in one end to the tops of the circles in the other. This creates four lanes up the ice.

Now start all of the players in one corner and have them go one direction in each lane (up lane one, down lane two, up lane three, down lane four and back in line). Each lane will incorporate a different skill set. They can work on any skill that you might want to practice. C cuts, ski edges, open hips, knee touches, 360 spins, stickhandling/dribbling, indirect self passes, weight transfers, etc, etc, etc. Think of any skill you’d work on and figure out a way to incorporate it into a lane setting. THen start the players from one corner. At peak capacity, there should be between 12-16 players going at once, with coaches spread out to monitor and encourage the skill reps.

Great work for players of all ages and a great way to incorporate skill and agility work without sacrificing repetitions and activity on the ice.

The Three Tenets of Coaching

Sitting in the office the other day, we were having a discussion about what makes a good coach and what areas you have to excel in to be considered “good.” After some thought and conversation, I believe that coaching comes down to three major areas: Technical, Tactical and Interpersonal.

1. Technical: A good coach must have a strong technical knowledge of the game or sport that they are coaching. Technical expertise is anything that is involved in the mechanical ability to complete an action. In hockey, this boils down to skating, passing, shooting, stick positioning, how to play the body, ability to execute under pressure, etc. Personally, I feel as though situational play also falls under technical ability, although an argument can be made for this being a part of the tactical game. For example, how you play rushes (on both sides of the puck) can be seen as both technical and tactical. Executing on both the offensive and defensive side of a situational play is a technical ability and, to me, the tactics involved in the situation are again a technical skill in the game of hockey.

2. Tactical: The tactical elements of the game mostly involve systems and what structure a team plays with. A coach’s tactical ability influences a game in a number of ways – primarily through adjustments and the ability to identify strengths and weaknesses (both in game and on tape) and attack/protect the respective elements. Coaches with strong tactical abilities have an ability to impact the game through the style of play of their team, their ability to implement adjustments and their proficiency in teaching their systems. 

3. Interpersonal: The interpersonal abilities of a coach are often the biggest indicator of success. Coaches who can interact with people, teach their players and thrive in a pressured environment are often the ones that are the most successful. Good coaches must have strong interpersonal skills to relate to their players, their own peers in the coaching world and their colleagues within their office/department. You can be the best technical and tactical coach in the world, but if you cannot relay your message to your players, it is completely useless. The ability to connect and build trust with your players is critical. In addition, you must be able to get along with your peers in the coaching world and your colleagues in your office/department.

It is my belief that all great coaches possess these three elements – I know there are many more skills and habits that create a successful coach, but without these three tenets coaches will struggle to be successful.

I would love to hear some feedback – what do you think? What have I left out? What does it take to be a successful coach?

Learning from the NHL

It is great to have the NHL season up and running again. I tuned in to the Sabres-Red Wings last night and loved every minute of it. Any player, no matter how big or how small should watch the NHL every chance they get. It’s always fun to cheer on your favorite team, but watch two teams that you have no rooting interest in. It’s amazing what you can see and learn.

Things I noticed last night, in no particular order:

  • Skating ability/edge control – stops & starts, efficiency in movement (front & back), lateral agility
  • Awareness – everyone plays head up, players know when to jump into the play and when to wait
  • False information – head fakes, look offs, etc
  • Poise under pressure – know your outlets so you don’t panic with the puck

Just a sampling of the things you can learn from the NHL. They play at the highest level because they are the best in the world. They’re the best in the world because they are so good at the minutiae of the game. Fun to watch and fun to learn from.