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04-11-2012, 01:06 PM
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I'm not a coach but I've done a couple sessions of beginner classes and I don't mind sharing what works and what doesn't.

I am more motivated than some of your students, as I am currently taking three classes per week:

1) Beginners hockey
2) "Stickhandling 101"
3) General skating lessons.

In my beginners class we have a pretty wide range of players - people who have never played before, up to people who are probably more in the intermediate range, playing in casual men's leagues etc.

My weakest area is skating, which is where the lessons help with some of the fundamentals. Likely it is where most of your students are the weakest as well. If you can, encourage them to take additional skating lessons. Sure, it might be taught by figure skaters, but whatever - the point is they are learning the fundamentals and getting the muscle memory down.

I think the best use of the time in beginners classes, however is to work on skating drills outside the player's comfort zones. Stickhandling, passing and shooting are important, but watch your players closely - my guess is they have a pretty small repertoire of skating "moves" they are comfortable with. They turn well to the right, cross-over better to the left, can only stop one direction, can only pivot one way.

Develop skating drills that FORCES them to use their uncomfortable sides.

Set up cones 15-20 feet apart in a zig-zag and make them simply skate to one cone and stop - skate to the other cone and stop. They'll be good one direction, crappy the other.

Keep the cones set up that way, make them do tight turns around them. Same thing, one way they'll be good, the other way they'll be garbage.

To get us to bend our knees, our coach had has stick-around the circles with our hands choked WAY up the stick. You have two choices - either bend at the waist, or bend your knees. We learned pretty quickly that bending at the waist is MURDER on your lower back. A deep knee bend sucks too, but sucks way less in comparison.

Anything you can think of to FORCE them outside their comfort zone is where you will see improvements.

They are wearing full pads and will not hurt themselves if they fall. Don't waste that opportunity to come up with all sorts of drills that WILL make them fall. If you're not falling, you're not learning your limits.

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