Know your players

Special hockey players have a wide range of ages, skill levels, and disabilities, all within the same team. It is useful at the beginning of each season to gather information from athletes and care givers about

  • strengths
  • areas to focus on
  • signs of fatigue, discouragement or frustration
  • advice on learning styles
  • how best to encourage


Practice equipment

  • whistle
  • cones
  • pucks
  • jersey/pinnies
  • first aid kit

Practices are typically 1 hour long. A typical practice breakdown looks like this:

  • Skate warm-up/stretching ~ 5-10 min
  • Announcements ~ 2-5 min
  • Play a game (sharks and minnows is a favorite) ~ 5 min
  • Drills (group by ability level) - 10-20 min
  • Scrimmage for remainder 25-30 min 


On a team of 15-20 players there may be 3-5 players who need one-on-one help. For the rest of the team a 1:3 volunteer to skater ratio is average. It is reasonable to have 7-9 volunteers in addition to the two coaches. Most volunteers do not need significant hockey skills.

Bench support

During practices, station a volunteer on the bench to support and encourage athletes who need a rest. 


Drills should be fun, start simple, and be adaptive. They should follow a standard routine. Don't be afraid to challenge the players and push their abilities to new levels otherwise the drills can get boring and lead to bad habits/distractions. Most players will do best learning skills by:

  1. Break the skill down into 1-2 steps. Then piece them together until they perform a complete skill drill.

  2. Demonstrate rather than explain.

  3. Keep them to a tight routine.

  4. Limit to a few minutes per drill.

  5. Provide lots of praise and encouragement.

Hockey drills can be broken down into fundamental parts of the game: Skating, stick handling, passing, face-offs, shooting, defense, offense and goaltending.


Games are typically an hour long on the same day of the week and most often the same time of day as practices.

Teams play three, 15 minute periods. The clock remains running on typical play stoppages. Coaches will work to match shifts between teams based on ability. Lines change every 3 minutes or so, indicated by a coach's whistle or scoreboard buzzer. There generally is no offsides or icing. Slap shots are not allowed. THERE IS NO CHECKING ALLOWED. PERIOD. 

Bench support

During games 2-3 bench volunteers may be needed.

On-Ice support

Volunteer support on the ice during the games various depending on the ability of the line in play. Top lines often don't need any volunteer help, lower level lines often have upwards of a 1:2 volunteer to skater ratio with many of them having one-on-one help.