3 Common Practice Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)

Posted on September 19, 2023

We’ve seen a lot of hockey practices in our day. So many, in fact, that we can clearly outline 3 common practice mistakes that just about every age group – male and female – makes. We’ll throw in a solution to each one – because we are like that.

Mistake #1 – Not Paying Attention to the Details

The coach says “go around the dot”… and the player skates through the dot. Or before the dot.

The coach says “stop at the blue line”… and the player stops 3 inches in front of it. Or 6 inches. Hell maybe a foot.

How to Fix it: Most times, players ‘cheat the drill’ when doing a drill at the same time as someone else. It’s almost like Player A wants to ‘race’ Player B down the ice, and will do the drills incorrectly to do so. Instead of trying to ‘win the race’, do the drills right. Trust the process, and focus more on doing things right (process) vs finishing first (the result).

Another way to fix the details issue is to be a better listener. Get closer to the board when the coach is explaining the drill. Make eye contact with the board and ignore distractions.

Other tips – Ask the assistant coach if you’re still unsure. Get to the back of the line (2nd person from the back) if you’re a visual learner; that way, you can watch players do the drill and emulate them.

Mistake #2 – Neglecting Rebounds and Short Range Offence

We feel that this is often a practice flow issue than an individual player issue. Players are often conditioned to skate past the net because – in flow drills – players are coming behind them. After umpteen years of practicing that way, it becomes a habit – players take a shot coming down the wing off a swing drill or horse shoe and skate behind the net, by the net, into the corner, or up to the ceiling. But not really up to the ceiling.

Rebounds/deflections have to be prioritized – not just by coaches but by players themselves. Where are all the goals scored at the higher levels? Exactly. Don’t just slip the puck into the bottom part of the net and call it a day – bury it! Get the puck upstairs! Train your brain so that it happens second nature in games.

How to Fix it: Coaches need to stress that players go to the net after shooting in flow drills, or design drills that have players shooting, going to the net, stopping and waiting in front for the next shot for a deflection. Coaches need to emphasize the importance of “garbage goals” and reward/reinforce players who “get their nose dirty” in the net front. Rebound goals might not be “viral Instagram content” but they all count the same on the scoresheet.

Mistake #3 – Not Challenging Yourself Within the Context of the Drill

We have all been there. Simple drill, and we just do what’s required. Get over the blue line and coast in for a shot. Make a pass on a 2v1 drill and cruise in to the net. Little skate at the beginning of practice… 2 hard strides and not 3. Some of us were the poster children of every example above (laugh now cry later).

Fix it. Now.

How to Fix it: It’s all between the ears, players. There’s a short window out there for you; don’t look back on your hockey career and say “if only I had have worked a little harder, I might have reached my potential”. It’s right there for you! Every chance that you’re on the ice – regardless of who it’s with – is a chance to get better. An opportunity.

The concept of co-production states that you can have the best trainer in the world, but if you go home after training and eat McDonald’s and Burger King every meal, you’re probably not seeing the results from the training. Players – it’s not on the coaches to push you all practice long. It has to come from within. YOU have to want it – if you don’t, that’s ok too. But if you ARE serious about improving (you’re reading this article, right?) you gotta dig deep. 6 am or 6 pm.

As our buddy says – “bell to bell” (congrats on your first child, Jon Lodge)

Until Next Time