I couldn't make it to practice last week and for a variety of reasons, I don't have an assistant coach this season (long story and not relevant to this post).
Anyway, I know how valuable "a different voice" on the ice can be. I asked one of my former players who now coaches to come out and run my practice. She played D1 hockey in the NCAA and has had quite a bit of experience as a hockey school instructor but I warned her - my 13 and 14 year old BOYS Bantam team can be a handful!
Well, of course, practice was terrific! I had asked Stef to work on cycling and creating scoring chances and by all accounts, the boys were great, they learned a lot AND, they were better in the offensive zone that weekend in our three game road stretch (scored 13 goals in two games but shutout by a VERY good goalie in the third game).
I will also note, Stef was a gifted goal scorer as a player and regularly led any team she played on in scoring goals - including at the NCAA D1 level. She has a tremendous shot and when she was on the ice with my Bantam team there was no question who the most gifted and talented player was on the ice.
Two takeaways for me:
1) Players respond well to a "different voice". Having Stef run practice (and she was tremendous) caught the attention of our players (in particular my older players). It wasn't just "Coach" telling us what to do today. Sometimes I forget to do this more often - and it's a really good thing.
2) Bring in an expert. As an example, if my defencemen are having trouble covering players in front of the net, bring in a local player who is good at that skill to teach it. It might be a Junior B player in town or a former college or pro player. It could be another coach in your organization. And, they can be given 20 minutes of practice time with the D to work on net front coverage - not necessarily the whole hour. Stef scores goals and I had her teach creating offence. Goalie coaches are invaluable to work with your goalies. Bring them in on a regular basis.
So, rely on others to help your team be better. That different voice made a difference for my team. I couldn't be on the ice with Stef that night but I know I would have learned from her as well.