Monday, November 9, 2015

Tips for a Successful Skating Practice

Do your young hockey players need some pointers when it comes to skating? If so, then you may want to create and hold a skating practice. Before you jump right into planning your practice, however, it’s important to sit down and think about what specific skating skills you want to teach or work on and the best order in which to teach these skills. Thinking about these matters beforehand will enable your skating practice to go much more smoothly.  

Most good skating practices will start with some kind of review on basic skills athletes should already know or, if they’re true beginners, just a general warmup. As you plan what to do in the beginning stages of your practice, consider your players’ ages and skill levels. You want to do something that reinforces what they already know but that also sets them up to learn something new.  Also remember that, in hockey, warm-ups should utilize a low center of gravity and some kind of gliding or heart-pumping activity.

After you’ve planned your opening exercise or warmup, it’s good to move into skill-building exercises. Your players will likely need some recovery time after their warmup, so feel free to plan in a few minutes for explaining the first exercise or activity in detail. As for the activity or exercise itself, base how long and how difficult it is on the attention span, age, and skill levels of your players. One-size-fits-all planning never works since each group has unique needs.

If your group is high-energy but tends to have a short attention span, which is often the case with very young players, you may want to consider using some overspeed drills once you feel the attention span faltering. This can keep the energy up, still allow learning to take place, and keep your players active and involved.  Furthermore, overspeed drills are great for learning skating techniques and tips that are important at all levels, including proper knee bending, edge control, core strength and stability, pushing, and more.

Using these tips and fully planning out your skating session will lead to a smooth practice session in which your players actually, truly learn something. However, no matter how hard you plan, there are always going to be some “kinks” you can’t really work out or even be aware of until you’ve tried putting your plan into practice. So, if things don’t go perfectly the first time, don’t panic. Instead, just learn from the experience and use what you’ve learned to revise the plan for future use. Learning from mistakes isn’t just for players; it can really help coaches too. In fact, always being willing to learn, grow, and change, whether it comes to skating drills or anything else, is what athletics are all about!

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