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Maddy

Coaching Advice

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Back in the Mite days It was fairly common to see kids being split up into smaller groups by like-in-kind skill sets during station based training's..   With the new season kicking off, I’ve been noticing one of our coaches continuing to do this even at the peewee level.   

Is it appropriate to continue splitting players into groups by skill set during station based training's at this age level?

Edited by Maddy

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For me I say yes, particularly if there is interaction between the players in the skill set. There are a number of reasons why: 1: you want the skill to be performed as fast as possible and at the highest skill level possible 2: by having players split by skill, the lesser skilled players are not pressured to screw up and the better players engage more knowing they are more likely to be the ones that screw up. 3: the lesser skilled players should know what they have to work on and can be given specific skills to do this. 4: they also can see how a skill is done at speed and a high level, watching encourages learning.

Later on in the training session you bring them together for combined drills etc but isolation by skill level is an important part of training. Now I know that for some parents in this "pc friendly everyone must participate" world this isn't the flavour of the month but the fact of the matter is this, if your kid was good enough they would be training with the higher skilled group. 

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It is interesting because I actually see it the other way. I'd want my weaker players to be in the mix with the more skill players so that they can improve. And I speak coming from personal experience. I started playing competitive hockey as a 2nd-year PeeWee. Some of teammates had been skates since Pre-K. I had to do what was necessary to keep up and get better. I know I wouldn't have wanted to be secluded into the 'weaker' club during drills. Everyone is different. I can easily see one interpreting a "normal" drill as PC. I see as stimulating one's competitive nature during practice. There ought to be pressure to get better as an individual and as a team. Splitting up the team based on skill, in MY opinion, defeats that purpose. I know that I never did that last year during our JV practices. I kids who were AAA, AA and A players. I also had kids who would barely make Tier-II B. I never split them up based on skill. I made sure that non-team drills focused one to two skills at most and more technique driven. I made sure to call out bad technique not matter how good the player was and commend the opposite. To each his own though. Please let us know how things go. 

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I think it depends on the drill and how much coaching you need to do for a given drill.  Drills where it is done as a solo activity (not player vs. player) can certainly be mixed.  But if you anticipate having to do a lot of teaching and interrupting the drill then that diminishes the effectiveness for the better players who are proficient and would benefit from more reps.

Player vs. player needs to be split up to a certain extent, especially at young ages.  As much as the "sink or swim" approach sounds good, it gets to the point where the less developed player just can't keep up, despite all the willpower and drive in the world, thus essentially not really even participating in the drill.

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2 hours ago, BenBreeg said:

I think it depends on the drill and how much coaching you need to do for a given drill.  Drills where it is done as a solo activity (not player vs. player) can certainly be mixed.  But if you anticipate having to do a lot of teaching and interrupting the drill then that diminishes the effectiveness for the better players who are proficient and would benefit from more reps.

Player vs. player needs to be split up to a certain extent, especially at young ages.  As much as the "sink or swim" approach sounds good, it gets to the point where the less developed player just can't keep up, despite all the willpower and drive in the world, thus essentially not really even participating in the drill.

Yea, I never really like using the 'player vs. player' drill type but I see your point. I think it also depends on the skill of the players. I've done game where the squirts display better skill sets than bantams. Each coach is different. I don't stop a drill unless absolutely necessary. I'm all about getting in correct reps and providing feedback on the fly. It definitely be harder to do at the younger ages but I would still have the same approach. I don't think "sink or swim" means learn to better yourself against superior skill. It happens all the time during a game. Only way to handle situations like that is in practice. That is the time to get better. 

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Thanks for the replies.. I should've provided a bit more detail and mentioned that I'm dealing with Peewee aged kids right now and dealing with dilemma of segregating kids by skill set.. At the younger ages it was a no brainer to separate kids by skill as the gap was definitely noticeable, therefore,  Vet88's comments above were spot on for me.  However, these kids are now are older, stronger, maturer and the gap in skill level has shrunk significantly - there really isn’t anyone that is light years ahead of the next kid anymore.  What I'm starting to see at this age is the variation in growth, physicality, strong on the stick and hockey sense among these kids.  I also have some late bloomers that possess very strong skill sets (extremely good skaters and speedy) however, slightly less on the physicality and maturity, etc side of things..       

Ive since decided to take a more simpler approach, and followed the advice of another fellow MSH'er and set aside the physical and maturity aspect of things and focused more on how well the kid can skate (edge control and strength on edge, natural ability and agility, etc.). as a measuring stick for moving kids into the more skilled groups during station based training..   

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