First Time Coaches

 Things to think about for your upcoming season

Thank you volunteering to be a Head Coach this season! What you are doing for Nepean Minor Hockey and its players will be one of the most rewarding experiences you can and will have as a volunteer. Enjoy it! 

We are here to help you! The following sets out some things to consider prior to hitting the ice for the first time with your team!

If you need help with practice planning and on-ice development, please reach out to our Coach Mentor, Tony Iob, as well as the Hockey Canada Drill Hub website, for some great drills and tips to get you started! 


  • Task #1 of the season will be reaching out to your new team.

    • team list – you’ll receive a team list and contact information shortly after sort-outs

    • reach out to all the families of your team right away and:
      • introduce yourself
      • ask for help – a list of volunteer roles are described in the Manager’s Manual.
      • let everyone know when the ice time is
      • and ask parents to confirm that they have in fact received the email! 

Not everything needs to be sorted out for day one, that includes having everyone get the right certification and training. However, a couple of parents willing to help out on ice and the bench for the first weekend is a must.

In addition to these on ice helpers you will need to recruit a Manager. They will be your biggest volunteer throughout your upcoming year, helping you run your day to day tasks with your team.  You’ll also need to recruit a trainer and treasurer. Refer to the volunteer roles section of the Manager’s Manual. 

Two-deep – remember that you must have 2 adult volunteers (who have taken Respect in Sport Activity Leader, formerly Speak Out) in your change rooms at all times to maintain order and keep and eye on things while your players are getting changed, at practices AND games.  This not only protects the players, but also the Team Officials.

Families are every bit as important to a rewarding season as your players, so take the time to get to know them and communicate with them open and honestly from day one! 

Equipment – Coach supplies

  • Your first weekend will require you to bring some equipment 

  • Practice: you will need:
    • pucks (at least 15),
    • pylons and a whistle
    • if you don’t have these, they are available at all sports stores and when your team budget is set up you can be reimbursed for these expenses

  • Games: you will need:
    • game jerseys and socks and game sheets – your Division Director will coordinate times for you to pick up them
    • pucks – for warmup

  • pens and paper in some form (a whiteboard helps too).
    • much of your role involves coordination, planning, tracking and taking notes to help you remember things

First Practice 

This is your first opportunity to meet your team.

  • aim to be at the arena at least 45 minutes prior to the ice time in order to get yourself settled and set up in your dressing room.
    • gives you enough time to introduce yourself to the parents and also the other team’s coach.
    • also, keep in mind that you are going to be sharing the ice with another team and there may be opportunities for you to take advantage of the ice and do some skating drills together. 
  • make a sign for your door stating your division level and team number so your players and parents can find out where to get changed

  • develop a plan of what you will accomplish on ice with your team. 
    • this would include skating, skills work, small area drills (small games that simulate fun game situations in tighter spaces)
    • keep it very simple for week 1.
    • once you have a plan make sure that is communicated to your assistant coaches/on-ice helpers as they are going to be key in implementing it and using your team’s time on ice effectively for the enjoyment of kids.

  • don’t forget to bring your equipment with you, including your own helmet, gloves, stick and skates! (It does happen and it’s difficult to coach a practice from the bench!) 

As the season goes on, for any questions about practice planning throughout the season, NMHA’s Coach Mentor, Tony Iob, is there to help! 

First Game 

  • games start later in the season for the U9 program. 
  • similar to the first practice, arrive at the arena early to be there for your team. You’re going to need the time as you’ll have to assign jerseys and socks to each player. 
  • everyone has a favourite number, but the jerseys are based on size and that is the best way to hand them out. Number 7 may be at some players knees and at another’s bellybutton so make sure that the kids match the jerseys as best as possible. 
  • you will have to ensure that a game sheet is filled out and signed. This is an easy but important task. Once it’s filled out, the timekeeper will come gather it prior to the game (they’ll often just knock on your team’s door).  
  • have a short warm-up planned for your team when they hit the ice. A bit of skating and a couple of pucks to have one or two kids warm-up the goalie is plenty for day one.

This may seem like a lot to take in and there are more rules and information that will come at you, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly the season goes and the first weekend will seem like a total blur because of all the fun you’re having with your team!