How to Plan Great Sessions
It doesn't matter whether you coach at junior international level or you're a parent volunteer with very little hockey experience – having a great plan makes every session more effective, easier to run and more enjoyable to coach. Here are our top tips on session planning and why it's important.
1. Get your session off to a great start. Even five minutes of planning ensures you can come up with a fun and effective warm up that engages your players from the very start of training. Knowing that every session is fun from minute one will help ensure your players turn up on time with energy and focus... and this usually means a more productive and enjoyable session for everyone (including you!).
2. Make your players feel valued. It's usually pretty obvious if you have turned up to take training and made something up on the spot! Knowing that you have spent some time preparing their session makes players feel like they matter and conveys a sense that you want to be there. This is key to creating a positive atmosphere and will help you to connect with players (and parents, if you're coaching a group of kids).
3. Plan with a clear focus in mind. This is simple. A plan helps to ensure that your exercises and games are engaging. It means that you design activities that encourage everyone to be involved and are focused on the areas that you want to work on. It allows you to thread a theme through a session and make sure that one part of a practice flows into the next and saves times by organising when and where you needs cones, bibs and balls. This all helps you be clearer in your communication too – less talking, more doing!
4. Support your goal setting. If you set goals for your team (or yourself as a coach) a session plan can help you achieve them. Think of the goal as the 'what' and the plan as the 'how' – we often talk to our players about focusing on the process. Our planning has a big impact on the shape and direction of that process.
5. Work better as a coaching team. If you work with other coaches, a plan can help everyone know their role and how they can best contribute to the session. A shared plan also means that if you or another coach is unable to attend at the last minute, the session can go ahead with a similar focus and level of purpose.
6. Review and reflect more effectively. Training plan notes can help you track your sessions over time. What works well with your group? What approach, activities and communication style do your players respond best to? Having a log of what you have covered and how you have covered it gives you a framework to reflect against and plan more effective future sessions.
7. Have a plan, but be adaptable. A structured session is sensible, but don't stick to the plan for the sake of it. We all know what it's like when the group is bigger or smaller than you expected, or things just don't seem to be working. Use your plan as a guide but don't be held hostage by it – use your instincts and go 'off course' if it feels right!
Great sessions don't just happen! A bit of planning goes a long way to helping you create effective and enjoyable training. Put your own stamp on it – whether it's a few scribbles in a notebook, a sketch or a detailed coaching diary make your plan work for you!
What tools do you use to help you plan? Here at 1-2-1 Coaching, we offer a number of fantastic resources and handy coaching items to support your coaching journey. Find out more below or click here to visit our shop!
- 'Captivating Kids' – waterproof book with 20 amazing games for brilliant junior training sessions
- 'Smashing Sessions' – waterproof book with 50 complete hockey sessions for players of all ages & abilities
- Secret Missions Cards - 52 coaching challenges to develop technique, tactics & team work printed onto a pack of durable plastic playing cards
- A4 & A5 planning notepads
- Clickers – perfect for keeping score
- 1-2-1 whistles, beanies and more