I’ve been coaching hockey and teaching math for around 8 years. I thoroughly enjoy the contrast of the two positions. But I’ve slowly noticed that there are many strategies in one job that carry over to the other.
Here are some points for what makes a good hockey practice and a good hockey game.
The corresponding teaching strategy are in italics.
- “Chalk time” is minimized (possibly done before getting on the ice, icetime is expensive), and players actually executing drill is maximized.
Traditional models of teacher-centered teaching should be replaced by student-centered activities in most cases.
- The number of players moving during a drill is maximized; the worst drills have only a couple of skaters moving. The best drills have a quarter to a third of your players moving. Ideally you’d like to have a work to rest ratio of around 1:2 for a practice (for every 1 minute of work, there is 2 minutes of rest).
Students high-ability and low-ability should be busy during a lesson. A group of strugglers should not drag down the speed of a class just like a group of high achievers shouldn’t speed up a class. Ideally, if you imagine the students on treadmills, there is no reason for the speed of the treadmills to be constant among all the students.
- All movement is done at full speed, there may be hestitaiton if the drill is new, but after the players get used to the drill they should be moving at “game” speed. You play games like you practice, so the faster you move in practice leads to fast movement in a game.
Students are pushing themselves to their limits. They aren’t happy with just barely getting by, and aren’t happy to cruise at a level below their optimal level.
- Drills emphasize specific hockey skills and the players know what skills they are working on in that drill. But they do not stop being hockey players; they must not abandon good hockey skills to just complete the drill.
Students should know what skills they are improving during a class. They should be focused on learning that skill. But they must also solve these skills in an environment that is as realistic as possible. Less abstraction, more detail.
- Players are exhausted at the end of the practice, physically and hopefully mentally. They were asked to go to their own personal limit (even if some players have different limits compared to others). Players in great shape should be pushed equally to their limit as weaker players.
Everyone should be pushed to improve. High and low achievers both.
- The coach is running the drills, may demonstrate specific portions of the drill, but team instruction is minimal (talking to the whole team when one players made a mistake), and individual instruction is ideal (one on one conversations). How many times has a coach yelled at the whole team for an individuals mistake? I hated that, and as a coach, I try not to make that mistake myself.
“Everyone can’t factor this quadratic, you should know this” isn’t normally the best way to approach changing behavior. Don’t you hate it when your administration addresses the entire faculty for the faults of a couple teachers?
- Players are excited but relaxed. Amped but in control. Prepared for the game but ready for anything.
Students are flexible under pressure. Able to stay loose and show what they know and not freeze up.
- Players have a short memory but a long vision. Mistakes don’t snowball. Luck is not mistaken for a proper play.
Even if students get a multiple choice question right by guessing, they understand that they need to be able to solve it without luck.
- Players are relentless in their effort, from the puck drop to the buzzer. They start a game right, and they finish a game right.
Students don’t have off days, when an assessment given out, they are ready to go.