In most places, there are multiple levels in an age group. Large associations may have seven such levels; smaller ones three or four. There’s no manual one could create that could effectively address the range and depth of technical challenges for all of them at once. Similarly, there’s no single plan which could do it.
This presents coaches with a real challenge. Aside from the LTPD document and Hockey Canada’s skills pyramid, a coach at any level is left to his own devices to determine what’s applicable at a level. This is where a proper curriculum in the form of a menu would serve them well.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Total your expected practice time for the season. For instance, if you have 30 hrs (where an hour is actually a 50-min. block), this becomes 1,500 mins of practice time.
2. Subtract about 10% for warmups (150 mins) and another 20% for small area or low organization games at the end (300 mins) since these are not formal teaching situations.
Also subtract about 10% of on-ice group organization/demo time (150 mins).
This leaves 900 mins for actual instruction.
3. For your team’s level and age group, consider the approximate percentage of time needed for skills vs. individual tactics, etc. In atom, for instance, Hockey Canada recommends about 50% on technical skills.
This translates to about 450 mins on pure skill instruction
4. Now the tough part—though keep in mind a plan is a live document that will be adjusted over the season. Compile a list of key skills your kids need to be introduced to by the end of the season. Whether or not they master them is not important for planning purposes. So an atom recreational group might need 10 skating skills. There could be another bunch of puckhandling/passing skills, more for shooting, etc.
How much of the 450 mins will be spent on skating skills versus puckhandling or others?
Let’s say you believe 300 of the 450 mins need to be spent on skating.
5. Take those 300 mins for skating and assign them to particular months. For example, 100 mins in each of October and November and 50 mins in each of December and January. Remember those minutes are spread over a certain number of practices. But you have flexibility to allocate them in any number of ways. Your 100 October minutes could be 20 mins in each of five practices, or whatever you feel is best, given your practice time allotment.
6. Repeat for all the skills and tactics. Remember that you’ve already allowed time for warm ups, fun cool down activities and organizational time.
You now have the makings of a decent yearly plan based on a viable curriculum. You don’t even have to glue yourself to it. Kids may succeed quicker at a skill, in which case you can cut the time spent on it and carry it over to another more needy one.
But what to do, and when? That’s for next week.
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