After learn to skate, the next progression is into Learn to Play. Adding sticks and pucks is exciting, but adds more layers of difficulty. We want to continue to build on their skating foundation, but incorporate basic hockey concepts.
Our sessions run for 50 minutes, with limited kids in the class. We strive the keep the kids active, learning, and having fun the entire time. We split the group into two sections: one is skating focused, the other is hockey focused. They spend equal times with each section, and switch back and forth twice.
Skating: Work on and reinforce the basics: edges, stopping, backwards, pivots, learning crossovers, etc. Our drills are simple and fun; have them moving and working on things that actually matter in hockey. Races, chases, and other games help them compete, push their boundaries, and go faster than they normally would in practice.
Hockey: We introduce carrying the puck and making simple plays. We want them to get in the habit of carrying the puck away from their feet and body, so that they can skate fast with the puck. We talk about basic hand positioning, but for the most part we want them to be in control of the puck while they skate. No sliding it out in front and chasing after it, not a million stickhandles that slow them down. Instead they carry the puck in a position where they can skate, stickhandling, pass, or shoot all from the same spot.
We then add in races, where they need to skate fast, be aware of their opponents, and have a little friendly competition. We slowly push them out of their comfort zones so that they will improve.
We then end with some sort of game. 3v3/4v4/2v2 full ice, cross ice, etc. We get them skating, scoring goals, making plays, and most importantly having fun.