The principals of play for a hockey game are what defines how a team plays. It’s a repeated clear pattern, or patterns, that can be easily seen and which can easily define the style of play. A principal, where is in sports or in life, could be defined as a rule that governs our behaviour. For a team this could mean something that has become so natural for the style of play, that it is part of the profile of it.
A team can have different principals that will define its style, for instance, it can have certain rules for attacking, defending, build-up and so on.
Additionally, it can have different patterns that can contradict each other: for instance a team could have the knowledge on how to build up the game by making short and medium passes, as well as having a good style of play when it comes playing long passes. The more flexible and adaptable a team can be, the more resources a team will have.
How can you set your game principals for your team?
This is a big question… should the coach, no matter what decide on how a team should play or are there other factors to weigh in? In my opinion, there is a lot to think about, for instance: Do I have the right players to play in a certain way? Finding the answers to these questions will help you to grow as a hockey coach.
If I have a team that is advance on the age average, should I introduce a very high physical principal or should I balance my team in order to save energy during a match?
Another thing to consider could be related to what did a team or club did in the past. Some clubs that rely heavily on playing in counter-attack style, might not like to all of the sudden make a shift to a more ball possession principal.
Well, I would say that having “classroom sessions” can really help players to understand what they are trying to accomplish. The use of video as a visual help is a very important tool that we must use for sure. But mainly, I would make sure that everything we do in training, meaning the drills that we use, is geared towards those objectives.
There has to be a logic and a rational pathway between theory – drills (practice) – execution (gameplay). This way, the players will jump to the field, knowing exactly what to expect and what to do ahead of time.
I hope that this short article was useful and interesting for you. If it helped you in your coaching, please share it with your fellow colleagues or teammates!