Game Day Prep and Routines
Structure can be crucial to young players and their development. Having a good routine in place that is made to be habit can improve a teams preparation and individually will benefit player performance.
Pre-game routines will differ depending on age but coaches need to first ask themselves what they want to accomplish prior to the game. What time do you expect your players to arrive and what does this give you for a window to prepare?
Firstly, more often than not teams do not value a high energy dynamic warm up enough and quite often if they do it is cut short. By searching for a well planned dynamic warm-up to put in place through your coaching staff or by reaching out to a qualified strength and conditioning coach for direction you can not only accomplish a proper pre-game warm-up in 20 minutes time, but you can also consider it time to develop foot speed, core strength and balance, not to mention the right approach creates a team builder every game. 20 minutes may seem long to many, yet the right warm-up should see a good sweat begin for your players and it should be complete just prior to them getting dressed.
The second thought to consider is your messaging to the players. When do you meet with them, what do you speak to and how do you deliver the message? So many players today rely on visuals to properly understand the message and remember key details. Consider posting the key points to your message and the teams keys to success that day in the room immediately when you arrive. This gives the players a good preview as to what will be addressed by the coaching staff and what they need to mentally prepare for that day. Find 3-5 good key messages that you feel your players need to hear. Anything further begins to become difficult to recall. Many coaches may deliver their game day message as soon as players arrive and then to follow up and briefly hammer home those messages prior to ice. Find what works for your players and what makes them respond, but be willing to try different things and ask your leaders what's going to help the purpose of routine. Further to that, do you leave this messaging on the wall when you leave for the ice or do you post it behind the bench as a tool to constantly refer to? Consider how this can help your coaching staff deliver a clear and consistent message while also allow the player to constantly come back to the keys that will make them successful that day.
Post game talks can be difficult at times for coaches in finding productive things to say. Turn to your assistants for 5 positives and 5 negatives and evaluate the keys to game day. What did you execute well and what did you not? Does the information your assistants give you reflect the keys to success that day? Structure your thoughts that way and if it does not serve a purpose to address the team until the next practice maybe you shouldn't? Your message must make an impact every time you address your players. Keep them engaged by knowing when you speak it has a purpose.
So many details can create the right routines for your team on game day but when you put them in place, enforce them and be sure you have complete buy in from the team to make this a habit. This is simply a form of teaching discipline to our kids by saying 'here's how we prepare and we will commit to getting it done.'
"Failure to Prepare is Preparing to Fail"