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Ask Around: Practice Drills Need Maintenance

December 14, 2014 Written by | No Comments

“The best coaches never stop learning or experimenting”, advice I received during my first coaching stint at a youth, summer hockey camp just north of the Pocono Mountains in Lakewood, Pennsylvania. Then, Camp Weequahic athletic director Scott McNevan, who has coached collegiate soccer, as well as youth lacrosse and hockey—instilled in me a drive to continually question my rink-time management—what more can I do for these young players?

Freeport Arrows hockey director Chris Hogan always ponders this looming question. A proud coach, Hogan believes talking with other coaches is a useful tool, especially when practices don’t yield results. “It’s good to keep our practices fresh, but I could care less about that. I need our practices to enhance our players and team play.”

Before practice begins, Hogan prepares; with stacks of blank paper in front of him, half the paper, pictures of a full-rink schematic, the remaining, “half-ice” diagrams for “mini-games”, his mind goes to work.

“We are not generating enough shots, today we only have half the ice, so I’ll make something up”, and he does, Hogan’s drills will often box players into commitment situations, putting the onus on the players to think less and commit to a “hard” play. Modestly put, Hogan “makes something up” but his drill-creation process is actually more of a trial-and-error approach.

“Looking at a drill on paper, changing it, using it in practice, changing it again. It always needs tweaking.” Drill modification according to Hogan is like setting up an experiment, its controlled, but, there still needs a creative element.

“I don’t want to lose creativity from the guys, but I need them to be accountable. I sometimes get stumped working on the same drills and not seeing results.”

Hogan continues, “I ran into one of the Ferraro brothers at one of our away games last month, I asked him about our re-group drill*.”

Chris and Peter Ferraro, retired U.S. Olympians with NHL experience, are the founders of Ferraro Brothers Hockey, providing premier youth hockey support to Long Islands top hockey prospects. In terms of on-ice training, elite coaching, and there new state of the art arena The Twin Rinks; Ferraro Brother Hockey sets the bar for developing hockey players.

Hogan has maintained dialogue with the Ferarro brothers during his tenure and has frequently coached against them. “I just spoke about what I saw in our drill, and he told me some things I could try; I’m going to tweak the drill, see what happens.”

The advice if you were wondering was subtle, but vital. The suggestion, try having the defense-man stay lower in their own end, this could give the forwards more time, space, and speed heading into the offensive zone.

“You are always learning, actually stealing ideas from other coaches, I think the best coaches know what to take and what not to take from other coaches.”


*For information about the re-group drill or any hockey  drills, check out Coach Nielsen’s blog on ice-hockey drills.

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