Everyone knows what a warm-up is. It’s that wee time frame before engaging in an athletic endeavour when the body and the mind need to be tuned up for action. How the warmup is done is another matter since there are innumerable options. But it should be pretty obvious even a half decent warm-up includes lots of movement, gross motor activities, puck play, and shooting.
Then there’s the cold-up. Assuming everyone does know what a proper warm-up entails, how is it that the following is done for 8 minutes at the outset of a 50 minute practice?
The moment the kids step on the ice, the coach begins this drill, which he’s obviously shown them in the room. So good for him for planning and immediately starting.
But this happens... Players are in four groups, one group per corner. Alternating ends, one kid from each end skates somewhere, gets a pass from a corner, skates over half the length of the rink and drifts in for a shot. At the most, there are two players skating at a time. About two-thirds of the shots are on net and there are approximately 20 seconds between shots for the goalies.
Naturally, the kids coast through the drill. Why? Because they can. There’s no mental or physical challenge. Passes are long and sloppy. Reception positioning is poor. Neither coach corrects them on this. It’s a warm-up after all. No need to do error correction in a warm-up, is there?
What would have been better than this cold-up? First, get them skating as soon as they get out there, preferably not in one direction nor just going forwards. It needn’t be for long. Even a minute of agility skating is sufficient to get the blood flowing. In one minute, bantams can do almost three laps or lengths.
Next, it’s fine to keep the same four cornered groups but do the passing and shooting in their halves. You’d have twice the kids skating and in a more realistic space. It’s still not enough though. Add an agility route before or after a pass to allow time for more players to be involved. Take shots from a designated area, like the circles (wristers only) and set it up so there’s a shot every 5-8 seconds. Insist on short accurate passes and proper body adjustment for reception.
As for time, a standard approach is 10% of the practice time. So five minutes of 50 is sufficient with young players. Besides, in a well-designed practice, even the first formal drill can act as a different type of warm-up. For instance, after a couple of minutes of general agility skating and puckhandling followed by a shot, a small space puck protection exercises serves as an additional warm-up to checking or 1 on 1s, etc.
If you want the kids to perform at a high pace or decent intensity, a cold-up doesn’t cut it.
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