1st ever training Session Structure?

1st ever training Session Structure?

I have been given my first team ever!! They are 11 year old girls and I wanted guide/ recommendation on how I should structure my one hour sessions? E.g. how long should I spend on a warm up, drill etc. .Cheers,Freya

Hockey CoachCoach
Rodney Johnson, Australia

when first coaching use some fun warm up games. concentrate on a new skill and finish with a mini game using that skill. I try to break warm up to be 10% of time for whole lesson.

Gary ThompsonCoach, England

hi Freya

Firstly, congratulations! You’ve got the chance to inspire some potential future Olympians!

1 hour doesn't give you much time but it’s what I’ve encountered at this age.

I think FUN is very important because you need to keep the kids' attention (and I find attention-spans are short with younger players).

I’d also focus on the BASICS because this creates a great foundation for later on in their hockey career. Remember that this is just 1 season and 1 year in potentially 20-40 years of hockey in their lives (hopefully anyway).

I coach both juniors and adults and find that ball control issues in adults, for example, can stem from just having a poor basic posture, so let’s stop long-term bad habits stemming from simple stuff like having straight legs and hands in the wrong position. Also, I’d expect problems with reverse stick work, so make sure you look at that too.

I believe drills / technical practice is vital for developing personal abilities, so you have to do these. Use the idea of game-time at the end of the session as a reward for doing the boring stuff. There’s naturally an application phase to stuff practiced during training too, so the game-time is putting everything into context i.e. it’s important to have it but you can use it as motivation too.

You can disguise / get away with very basic exercises and drills, just by making them competitive. Ironically, despite their young age and perhaps a difficulty in concentrating sometimes, the competitive streak seems to start very early, so anything that gets them racing against each other will distract them (hehe) e.g. team-relay competitions, etc.

In terms of how to split your time down, given you’ve only got an hour, you can’t afford to do an adult-style 20-30 warm-up session (I’m including stick and ball work in this time-frame) but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with introducing them to dynamic stretching etc… but just maybe dumb it down a bit and just do 4 or 5 different stretches (they’re kids after all… they just bounce… they don’t get injured… except when they trip over… and then just be ready for some tears). Having funny names for the stretches too is a cool idea. For example, doing a standing hamstring stretch (we look to brush our hands on the ground from behind to infront of the legs) is “shooing the chickens”. You can do that after “opening the gate“ (outward hip rotation). You could then “close the gate” (inward hip rotation) to stop the chickens escaping :)

I think in the time you have, you’ll probably only get to do 1 or 2 different drills before you’re close to the end of the session. Make sure you choose a theme for your session. It could a specific skill. I just try to have some coherence to my sessions, so make sure there’s a focus to what you’re doing.

In terms of how to break your session time down, if this helps, this is what England hockey recommend the time-split on different hockey elements to be for your age group. At this age, we are playing either 4 a side mixed hockey (with no GK) or single sex 7 a side with a GK. The time splits also depend on whether a player is an absolute beginner or not. All this is part of EH’s Single System and ties in with our LTAD (long term athelete development) programme.


Core Skills – 60%

Movement Skills – 20%

Small Unit Play – 0%

Game Play – 20%

Set Plays – 0%


Core Skills – 50%

Movement Skills – 10%

Small Unit Play – 20%

Game Play – 15%

Set Plays – 5%

Hope this helps.


PS make sure you have some fun too - it will spill over onto the kids and they'll feed on it. Good luck and enjoy yourself :)

Hockey CoachCoach

Hi Freya

All the above is excellent advice...

1 hours is not very long. If possible, I would suggest asking the kids to  turn up a bit early.

If not, I would do

20 mins Fun warm up

15-20 mins - teach a skills through demonstration explanation then getting kids to rpactice whilst you coach

15 mins A game with positions

5 mins de-brief - ask what they learnt and start introducing 'awareness' e.g. ask them who trained the best and why? And then make sure everyone claps for the winner that you choose...

Tip : from the outset, take control or else you will lose time.Girls love to chat... (Boys like to mess around)

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