Minnesota Hockey Journal

December 2018

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M H J ON L I N E . C O M | D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 26 Sound Off AISE YOUR HAND IF YOU LOVE GAME DAYS. Now, raise your hand if you have the same love for practices. I can hear the audible groans from here. But hear me out. This isn't just coachspeak. I'm going to tell you why you need to make sure you're getting in more time for practice and less time in for just games. Don't get me wrong; I love games as much as the next parent/player/coach. Games are what we love to play and the in-game action and everything sur- rounding it is what makes hockey awe- some. But if all you're doing is playing games and not getting the practice in, how can you get any better? I just looked at our stat sheet from this weekend and our best players had 6 or 7 shots all weekend—in two games. If all you're doing is playing games, your shot's never going to get better. The same can be said about every aspect of every skill. Practices are meant to fine tune your skills and improve your develop- ment. That's why they call it practice. And guess what, just because we call it practice doesn't mean it can't be fun. Long gone are the days where practice meant standing in long lines waiting for your turn at the next mundane drill. Today, thanks to USA Hockey, Minnesota Hockey and the American Development Model we have small-area games. It's funny, now today players are working on things without even realizing they're working on them. Sometimes they're just having more fun while they're doing it. Even in St. Cloud, I would say there's not a practice that goes by where we don't play some form of a small-area game. We do it every day. Players and coaches in the NHL will tell you the same thing. Even at that level, where practice is also important, having fun during practice is paramount. I think the biggest disservice we can do to our kids is make practice so boring or put so much pressure on them that we're taking the fun out of the game. And that fun that you're having in practice (it's OK to admit it), that's going to translate to a love for hockey unlike any other. I've been lucky enough to coach a lot of guys that have gone on to the NHL and almost to a T, most of the guys that made it were guys that loved the game so much you couldn't drag them off the rink. Take South St. Paul's Justin Faulk who I helped coach at UMD for instance. He played the game with a smile on his face. He loved being out there. He loved practice, he loved the competition, he loved the extra games after practice, he just loved playing hockey, and I think it's a big reason why he's now a professional hockey player with the Carolina Hurricanes. So get out there and practice. The games will be there when you're done. Practice > Games You're not going to improve if you're only playing games by Brett Larson Game On Brett Larson is a Duluth native and the new head coach of St. Cloud State. Here are best practices for each age level based on the American Development Model Level Recommended Games Minnesota Hockey Rule Mite/8U 15-20 (cross/half-ice) Max of 6 full-ice after Dec. 31 Squirt/10U 25-30 Max of 35 Peewee/12U 35-40 - Bantam/15U 40-50 -

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