Or Is It Simply The Way Of The Future?????



Everyone wants to see more of an emphasis on allowing kids to have fun when they play hockey. In order to do that, I would suggest that we make it mandatory for practices to consist of at least 50% scrimmages.

Over the years we have trained and developed coaches to the point that they all have enough play books and practices drills to last a hundred seasons. The problem is that many of the drills are so complicated that it takes half of the practice for the kids to understand what they are going to do. And then, when they get to the game, they find out that their opponents are real kids just like themselves. The opponents are not pylons! They don't stand still and let you stickhandle around them.

The most skilled coaches of the previous generation realized that it was just as important to teach players how to handle themselves in game situations. And the best way to learn how to deal with game situations is to have the children experience game situations. Unless you are actually playing against another club, the best way to do this is by holding a scrimmage during the practice.

When you have a scrimmage, you can stop the play at any time and actually point out what the individual players should be doing or where they should be positioning themselves for maximum effect. There may be a lot of standing around, but the kids on the ice are all listening and watching, as if they are being moved around on a life-sized drawing board.

So if we want young players to develop game management skills, we have to reduce the amount of time doing drills in practice and increase the scrimmage component to at least half of the time. Kids will have a lot more fun, not only in practice, but also during the games.






I agree with the article on more scrimmages and less drills. This
should be especially true during the Initiation/Novice years of hockey. I
coached Novice hockey for the first time this past season and one thing that
I learned is the kids learn faster, have a better appreciation, and learn
more in the scrimmage situations than any of the drills we worked on during
the season. There are more drills out there than I can even read so I
preferred to use a combination of the drills in the manuals with my own
little tweaking to maximize what I felt my team needed to learn. This meant
several variations of the same drill but emphasizing different parts of the
drill. Obviously, drills are an extremely important part of a young players
individual skill development but I think far too much emphasis is placed
upon individual skills. Players who are just getting into the game are doing
so because hockey is the fastest, most exiting team sport on earth in my
opinion. They do not watch a bunch of skating, shooting or passing drills
and decide that those drills look fun so maybe they'll join hockey. No, they
watch the games on TV or watch their older siblings playing and think it
looks like fun and something that they might be interested in. This is where
the passion that is needed comes from. They like the game of hockey as a
whole not the intricacies of the game. That is something left to the more
competative levels of hockey. Let's show these youngsters what the real game
of hockey is meant to be. FUN!!!!  Some of my own best experiences in hockey
came from playing either street hockey in the summer and playing shinny
hockey outdoors in the winter. Why, you may ask?? Well, we loved to play
hockey where there were no coaches, no parents (except the ones out playing
with the kids), no referees, no presidents of associations, no rules or
bylaws, no real hitting and nobody telling us how we should be watching our
skating stride or our crossovers. We played because we loved to play. Let's
bring that back to the kids and let the refined skills work themselves out
down the road. Drills develop individual skills, unfortunately hockey is a
team sport.

Ryan Brackenbury


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