Player development should always be at the forefront of coaching priorities. In many cases, it is helpful to use data to drive the process and shape the environment for your athletes. In the 2019/20 Curry College hockey season, we created a station-based practice with the intention to practice “game-like” shooting. The results were surprising and revealed new questions and lots to consider.
4 Stations / 6 players per station. 8-10 minutes per station
Station #1: Low to high one-timer with pass coming from the corner to the weak side/back door dot while moving.
Station #2: Catch and shoot on forehand or backhand catch with quick transfer to forehand to shoot in one motion with feet moving.
Station #3: Catch and change angle around a barrier. Forehand and backhand catches.
Station #4: One-timer from pass across mid-line/royal road on a rush.
With a coach in the press box, we tracked one player to see how many shots he took in the 40 minutes of station-based shooting drills.
At the conclusion of the practice, I was surprised to learn that the player only attempted 27 shots. I didn’t believe it. Fortunately, we also videoed the player, so I reviewed the film and to my disbelief, it was true, he only attempted 27 shots in a 40 minute shooting practice! Before revealing the results to the players, I asked them to guess how many shots they took in the practice. The answers varied from at least 75 shots. This was really interesting that the perception of the coaches and players on the ice was that there were at least triple the amount of shots being taken.
The drills were not designed for maximum quantity. They were designed for game-like conditions, which increased the amount of time it took to complete each repetition. With this in mind, I was comfortable giving up the quantity of shots attempted for the quality of each repetition.
However, this data created a new question. How many shots do players take in a regular team practice? One where the primary focus is not on shooting.
The next practice we put our coach back in the press box and tracked the same player on the ice. The theme of this practice was transition; attacking/defending on the rush. Below is a description of each drill and in parenthesis I list how many shots the player attempted.
Drill #1: 3v3 Cross Ice (0 SAT)
Drill #2: Shooting/passing warm-up (6 SAT)
Drill #3: Quick attack 2v1/3v2 transition (4 SAT)
Drill #4: 2v1 with backchecker (1 SAT)
Drill #5: 2v2 rush full ice (1 SAT)
Drill #6: Neutral zone transition game, nets at top of circles (1 SAT)
The player had a total of 13 shot attempts in this practice.
If you want to practice shooting in isolation, it will need to be done outside of team practice. With our best of intentions to create a practice specifically designed for shooting, the players were only taking about 30 shots.
You don’t need fancy software or an analytics expert to use data to help drive your coaching decisions and player development approach. Some creativity, curiosity, and a volunteer might be all you need. In part 2, I will show how we used the same approach to make a positive impact on our goaltenders.