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Copyright by Juhani Wahlsten & Tom Molloy

The ABCs of IInternatiionall Hockey QUALIITYPRACTIICE

Ice hockey was first learned very naturally. It was based on the players own initiative and creativity. The natural way was learning by doing. Times have changed and now players learn the game in drill-oriented practices organized by the coaches. And so we ask: "What is the most effective yet natural way to learn to play the game during organized practices?"

To start with, hockey is learned by moving. To guarantee hockey movements the coach must be a very good organizer. He must learn how to use the ice effectively and avoid "dead moments" when the players are standing in line, doing nothing for long periods of time. This teaching method is designed to help the coach run effective and active practices. It contains 18 different formations from which the coach can operate and manage. He only needs to handle the lines or rows of players which are positioned in various parts of the rink. The advantage of minimizing drill formations and repeating familiar take off positions is unquestionable.

The players and coach become very familiar with the basic formations, leaving more time for practicing hockey. This simple organization allows the coach to manage effective practices. This enhances his coaching ability and self-esteem.

The most challenging part of our 25 years of coaching experience has been to find the simplest patterns for practice organization. From these simple basic formations you can work on all hockey skills and tactics.

We have coded the formations and exercises in a progressive manner, from simple to more difficult. The coach should choose the formations and individual or team tasks that suit his practice goals, with his players skill development and age in mind. This system can be used from the beginner to the professional level.

We have given the formations and some examples of drills and exercises that can be done. The coach can expand on these basics by using the formations and his imagination and creativity. Add tasks, move pucks, have the players do coach-designated tasks at one end and read and react at the other; this is the art of coaching. We have included an exercise bank of drills as an extension of this system. The key idea is to create realistic situations, where they occur in a game.

The players are the ones that need to learn to play the game, developing the skills and using them at the right time and place. When the coach has his team practice skills in game-like situations the players will learn to play in all parts of the ice and also have the ability to read the play and react in imaginative and effective ways.

This system is natural because it duplicates realistic situations. Stay within the teaching system and add your own variations to the exercises and you will take a short cut to being a great coach.

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