Everyone wants drills.
It’s 4pm on practice day and you need to be at the rink for a 7pm 50-minute session. You have a good idea of what you want covered but work, family, and a car needing a tune-up have interrupted hockey planning. It’ll be a dash no matter what. Your assistants rely on you to put the practice together since neither of them are as experienced. Where to start?
There are so many ways to access drills these days that it’s almost overwhelming. However, the three best sources I’ve found are Hockey Canada’s Drill Hub and Network and the site hockeyshare.com. Only the drill hub is fully free, though it has limitations. Both of HC’s programs are available (right now) only as apps on tablets and smartphones. The network app has a limited trial version and is otherwise $47.99 per year (or $5.49 per month). In some areas of the country, coaches in coaching clinics are given a free one year subscription.
The amount of content Hockey Canada has put in the network app is astounding, and it’s not just drills. There’s training information, videos, articles and more. It’s a terrific resource. The free drill hub has, well, drills, also with videos. So if you’re the coach mentioned above, snatching a drill from one of these is easy.
But neither app allows the creation of your own practice plans. For that you can use a site like hockeyshare.com, which has a free version with limited tools. The full paid version, with a discounted rate for associations, allows you to create drills and practices, animate the drills, and share them with people.
Here’s the rub - and it’s a key one: With all those hundreds of drills literally at your fingertips, do you know how to adapt them to your team? The Hockey Canada apps do indeed divide them by age group so you can see what’s available for your atom team. However, in many areas, there could be four to eight levels of play in an age group, from competitive AAA to the lowest tier of house league. How do you know what’s appropriate and, if the drill isn’t quite the ticket, what will you do to it to make it so?
This is one of the major failings in minor hockey: the inability (and sometimes unwillingness) of coaches to adapt a marvellous drill to a team’s specific needs. Not enough time? Not sure what to look for or how to go about it? Both valid which means the onus is on the game’s leaders to provide the right tools.
So yes indeed, use those apps and sites. They’re vitally important in providing coaches resources they never had before. Just be mindful of the limitations.
Oh, and get the car tuned up on a non-practice day!
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