HCF strives to follow the five fundamentals of practice developed by USA Hockey to maximize the development of all athletes. Coaches, players, families should be able to identify these fundamentals every time they step on the ice, the five fundamentals are:
- Fun and engaging
- Repetition without repetitiveness (puck touches)
- Challenging (not too hard/easy, encourage failure and respond positively)
- Decision making (constantly putting kids in situations requiring them to think)
- Transferable (looks like the game)
Practices from 6U-18U have a similar format: warmup, progression to skill development station based drills and typically finishing with small area games (which are also utilized with the development drills). Drill complexity and teaching points progress with each age group but can also differ within an age group. That can be in the form of new drills, different progressions or both. It is important for coaches to assess their players and adjust drills to appropriately challenge each player.
The entire season was broken down into weekly practices themes. Each week consists of a developmental theme and teaching emphasis important for hockey players. These themes focus on specific habits for players to work on as the progress through their hockey career. By following the theme based practices we can ensure all kids have the opportunity to work on age specific habits and a baseline hockey IQ as they play for multiple coaches. For player development is it critical coaches instill the universal habits for the players rather than teaching specific systems as we work to build well rounded players.
Practice plans shared by Age Group Coordinators (AGC) are created specifically for each age. While the plans are long, they identify key points and progressions that can be utilized. The intent of the practice plans was to be a guideline meeting the fundamentals of practice set out by USA Hockey. Coaches are able to adjust practice plans and substitute drills, but it is critical those changes follow the fundamentals. We understand the “art of coaching” is being able to adjust in real time and we expect that to occur, but advanced planning can help minimize confusion, as so much of what we do requires collaboration.