Should recreational (house league) level coaches have a plan?
First, the cynical answers:
1 - Good grief, why would I need a plan for a bunch of kids who don’t really care?
2 - I’m using mostly the same drills as the local pro team, tweaked a bit. Isn’t that enough?
3 - Whatever went wrong in the last game or two provides me with plenty to plan for the next practice.
4 - Who has time for this stuff? I’m just a volunteer keeping kids active.
5 - My practices are well organized, thanks. And my life is, too. I don’t need more.
That’s what I hear. Often. Perhaps though the point isn’t that coaches at these levels require a plan so much as a roadmap and direction on where to be and when. I sure don’t want to see volunteers forced into creating complex plans with cycles, segments, objectives and whatnot. Most have neither the expertise nor experience to create such things, let alone the will to abide by them.
Still, we need to call it something else. Curriculum works best. But first, the rebuttals to the cynical points listed above:
1 - Kids do care. They may not be as intense nor as skilled, but they want to learn and improve. For the most part, they understand their limitations and are aware other kids on competitive teams are better. That doesn’t mean they’re satisfied with being poor players. No one wants to be poor at something.
2 - Tweaking drills from other sources is terrific so long as the tweaking takes into account the vast differences between a child and a pro or older adolescent. Moreover, the manner in which drills are packaged and presented along with other key practice factors are integral to the tweaking being appropriate. Most important of all is having skills and tactics that are suitable for the age and level, no matter how pretty the drill.
3 - Bandaids for a broken leg don’t work either. As they say, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
4 - You still need to have some idea of goes into those practices. It’s actually easier and less time consuming once there’s a plan than trying to “wing it” every time you get to the rink. As well, the kids will be more engaged and will happily follow your excellent lead.
5 - Good point. But what if a curriculum was provided where all you had to do was select from a menu of skills and tactics and determine when they need to be taught? Less thinking for you, less experience required, more appropriate learning opportunities for your players.
Next week, a look at some simple curriculum plans that anyone can use.
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