"Well, you know good conditioning can make up for a lack of talent, we can out work the other team"
Lack of talent??? If you are currently coaching at an elite level, I will let you use this excuse as long as you are also equipping your team with a system that fits the skill level you have gotten with the team. If you are coaching kids lack of talent means you have to work harder, not the kids. Step up and be the coach that recognizes the gaps and helps his players bridge them.
Teaching kids the proper skills, techniques and knowledge will always win out in the long run.
Ever go what a really good old timers team ( you know, like the NHL old timers who tour around). They play teams that are younger with better conditioning and work harder. Who always wins and it doesn't even look like they are trying? The old timers, because they have the skill, technique and knowledge that allows them to work smarter and not harder.
Now you may give up a win or two during the season, but you will have a better team than what you started with and wins will come without that being the focus.
Another thing to note is that any endurance drills (eg lines, herbies or whistle blows) will fatigue the player and have him practicing skating with poor technique. If that is the norm of your practice then all you are re-enforcing poor technique and that will hurt your team more than anything.
How can I put some conditioning into my practice?
- Keep hard skating to under 30 seconds at a time, give time to rest and go back at it.
- In corporate lots of competition in your practices with games that pit the players against each other, the clock or the coaches ( make some fun games, not fighting)
- Use up tempo drills.