Coaches are one of the most important pieces of a successful hockey team. They must know the strengths and weaknesses of each player, be able to teach and strengthen systems, abilities and principles and to be able to adapt the team's play style to different situations. In short, they must always be analysing the performance of their team and players and finding ways to improve their performance.
Traditionally, coaches use their practise time to improve the abilities of their players while implementing various strategies (called a system). However, team performance is largely based on the adoption of a number of principles that take advantage of the players abilities and upon which the strategies are based.
The relation between strategy, principles and ability can be represented by a pyramid. The pyramid relies on base abilities, and is composed mostly of principles while the strategy relies on the underlying principles and abilities.
It is therefore important for coaches to ensure players have a strong ability base, usually acquired during practises and games in the first years of playing the game. Once the abilities are at a sufficient level, the focus should shift to teaching the hockey principles. These principles should be reinforced through practises and reviews using whiteboards for players at all levels of play. Finally, a strategy should be implemented that takes into acount player ability and acquired principles.