At the begining of the year, coaches should first conduct an evaluation of their player's abilities. This will let the coaches know each player's strength and weakness from the ability point of view. These evaluations are usually done by independent evaluators before the team is formed. If no evaluation was conducted or the evaluation criteria are not adequate, a practise session should be alotted for evaluation.
In a further step, evaluation of the acquired hockey principles should be conducted. This can be done either via a paper questionnaire with game-like examples (what would you do in this situation... option a, b, c, d) or via scrimmage play during a practise.
Once the abilities of the players and their understanding of hockey principles are evaluated, the coach should look at the results and find the strengths and weaknesses of the team. The coaching staff should then establish a teaching plan for the year that will work on the weaknesses of the team, reinforce and teach hockey principles as well as establish a strategy that takes advantage of the team's strengths while protecting against the exploit of the team's weaknesses.
Teaching abilities, principles and strategy can be done using various methods as outlined below:
Abilities - Practise, off-ice
Principles - Whiteboard, practise, off-ice, video
Strategy - Whiteboard, practise, video
It is important for coaches to note that drills used in practises can combine aspects of abilities, principles and strategy. Good coaches will use drills that will reinforce a combination of abilities and principles or abilities and strategy. This will maximise the effectiveness of the practise time. This should also be supported by off-ice sessions and whiteboard/video sessions to teach material that does not require expensive ice time.
Coaches should re-evaluate their team every few months to note where the team has improved, and where it still needs improvement. This will also allow them to modify the long-term plan accordingly. The new evaluation scores should be compared with the previous ones to know how effective the plan has been so far. In an ideal case, each player should have a file kept by the association which contains his previous evaluations and comments from coaches which could be used to improve player development.