Structuring a Practice Plan
Having a plan for your practice is essential. When structuring the plan, there are a few things to consider.
Level of team. Learn-to-play, Youth, High School, College?
Number of players. 10 players, 20 players, 35 players?
What does my team need to work on? Skills, IQ, O, D, clearing, EMO, MDD?
Generally, a practice can be broken up into 3 or 4 blocks of time.
Block 1 - Warm up/Stickwork (15-30 minutes)
Make sure your team takes the warm up seriously to avoid injury. Taking the warm up seriously is also good for general athleticism. The more athletic a player is, the easier it is to learn and perfect sport specific skills. At a low level, stickwork should be a huge part of practice because the use of the stick and learning those skills are what is most important at the younger age groups. As the level of play gets better and faster, less time can be spent dialing sticks in at the beginning of practices.
Block 2 - O/D Split (20-30 minutes)
Offensive and Defensive Split is a team’s opportunity to work on specific strategies and skills that apply to those strategies. For the offense, Working on the shots and dodges that fit into the offensive scheme of a team is ideal for this time. For defense, breakdowns, approaches, slides, and footwork are ideal for this time.
Block 3 - Competition (20-30 minutes)
Put your units against each other now. Have the offense and defense execute their strategies against each other in order to find out what needs the most work. Settled 6v6, scramble drill, numbers drill, or 3A vs 3D with a 3v3 gb with o/d D coming from the side or midline is good as well.
Block 4 - EMO/MDD/FO/Clearing (10-20 minutes)
Spend time working on the unique parts of the game. Extra Man Offense, Man Down Defense, Face-offs, and Clearing. Pick 1-2 of these that your team needs the most. Clearing is always a good pick because a team can’t play offense if they never get the ball. A 6 player break out drill is ideal for this. EMO/MDD, and FO are easy to drill. Do it exactly how you would in a game.
End of practice Breakdown what you learned in practice with your team and reinforce all of the coaching points that were made in practice for each block of time. Review is important for players, but it is also important for you as a coach so that you can stay sharp and be making sure that your team does not make the same mistakes over and over again.
Structure your practices with a plan that is equal parts IQ and Skill.
Make it tiring, make it fast paced, make it fun.