What Does Your Season Plan Look Like?
I have mentioned the importance of season planning a number of times in my blog posts but haven’t really talked about what that looks like for you as a coach. I typically put together a season plan before the season starts but, that plan can get altered and changed as the season goes on depending on how the team is performing and where their strengths and weaknesses are. For most coaches the season is getting started right about now but I would suggest that it’s not too late to put together an outline of what the season might look like from a planning standpoint from this point on.
Click here to see the Season Plan I use for a typical hockey season. It’s an Excel spreadsheet so feel free to use it and modify in any way you would like. I will refer to it throughout this post.
First, I divide the season on a weekly basis and I categorize each week as Pre-Season, Regular Season, Tournament, Off or Playoff. You will note that I usually give my teams the week off between Christmas and New Year. Parents really appreciate not having to plan holiday events around going to the rink and I believe players come back from a week off very refreshed and looking forward to getting back on the ice. I would love to have a week off towards the end of October as well but the regular season schedule usually doesn’t permit that. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a week’s rest for a hockey team.
Next, I map out what off-ice workouts we plan on doing, skills we plan on working on and tactics/strategy in each week. For example, through the pre-season in my Excel sheet, we worked on speed and core strength off-ice. This encompassed both once a week meetings at a local recreation center for a workout and 20 minute strength sessions after practice in those five weeks. We continues the post practice workouts in four separate weeks through the season (avoiding the taxing tournament weeks that have more than the usual number of games).
With younger teams I would normally map out a more detailed skills plan. With the Bantam team, being their first year playing contact hockey, using and taking the body effectively became the focus of our skills work in our practices for the bulk of the season. We still devoted about half our practice time to passing/shooting/skating (P/S/S) drills to work on both individual skills and individual tactics.
When it comes to teaching system play, I try to focus on one element each week with younger players. As coaches, we have this need to teach all of our systems at the start of the year and then work on them all throughout the season. I have found with younger athletes (say younger than Midget aged) that teaching and practicing one element of team play per week seems to work extremely well. This is not to say that we don’t talk about the other elements. For instance, although in my plan we don’t get to the forecheck until week five, I will talk about pressuring hard and keeping a third man high in the zone. Then, when we get to the forechecking week, we will have a pretty good foundation and concept of what we are trying to accomplish.
I also list any special events that might come up. I have hockey related events but you could certainly add team parties and other types of special events to this column.
I am going to leave you with three more links and the one we discussed above:
1. The Ontario Minor Hockey Association has a terrific set of challenges. Click here to read about them (5000 Puck Challenge (Shooting), 10000 Touches Challenge and the 30/30 Challenge).
2. Hockey Canada provides the National Skills Standards & Testing Program. Click here to learn more about an on-ice skills test that you can do with your players a few times per year to chart skill development or, test only once and compare to national standards.
3. Click here to download my Yearly Planning Instrument that I put together for my NCCP Level 3 Theory course in 2006. It is a much more detailed plan for an older group and goes into much more detail about periodization, phases, macro and microcycles as well as a peaking index. Full time coaches would certainly all use an instrument like this for their season and athletes.
4. Click here for my Season Plan outline that I use with minor hockey team currently and have described above.
Good luck and feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all about your season plan.