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Deflections - What to Eliminate


“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” - Sherlock Holmes

Now we apply this to minor hockey practices.

“Once you eliminate the bad things in practices, whatever remains will likely be appropriate.”

If we could somehow get coaches to recognize what things should not be done in practice then not do them, we’d have pretty good practices. I know, easier said than done. Certainly this should be one of the roles of a mentor, to point not just how to tweak practice approaches and content but also how to remove the bad stuff. The field evaluations done for Hockey Canada’s Development 1 and High Performance certifications touch on this. But because these are “one-off” situations where coaches are on their best behaviours, it’s not often we see drills or teaching that just shouldn’t be there.

Here’s a list of what we should mostly eliminate from practices (not in order of importance):

  • No water breaks - The kids have to earn them? Really?

  • Yelling at players to go faster or slapping your stick on the ice as they go by

  • Coaches not engaged or teaching or giving feedback

  • Coaches dressed like they’re gardening or at the beach

  • Coaches playing with or shooting pucks while someone is talking or teaching

  • Beginning a practice with 5 minutes of players just goofing around

  • Yakking at the rink board for more than about a minute

  • Using a rink board for kids under age 9

  • Using a whistle on and on and on to tell kids when to start or stop

  • Not enough pucks (should be about 3-4 per player)

  • The absence of fun

  • Full ice drills for little ones

  • Linear drills (versus ones with more east-west skating)

  • Drills or exercises to punish (eg. skate the lines!)

  • Exercise as punishment (“If you get it wrong again, you’ll do 10 pushups!”)

  • Teaching team play principles with kids standing still or being shunted around a zone like chess pieces

  • Coach who look bored themselves or display little enthusiasm

  • The same drills done the same way in most practices

  • Demos that are way too fast

  • Regroup drills for young players

  • No practice plan

  • Lines of more than 3-4 to do a drill

  • Insufficient reps

... and so whatever remains will likely be pretty darn good.

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