Fun Drills Lead To Good Fundamentals For Beginning Players
By Dan Brennan
Manager, USA Hockey
Coaching Education Program
The benefits of the USA Hockey Cross-Ice program are well known. In addition to working with beginning players in a fun and non-competitive environment, the cross-ice approach allows for more players to work on their skills at the same time.
To get the most of out of an hour of ice time, coaches have created stations that work on different skills, all taking place simultaneously.
Divide the rink into three cross-ice zones using the blue lines as indicators where to put up the dividers. Rink 1 will have an emphasis on skating. Rink 2 will be dedicated to puck handling. Rink 3 will concentrate on shooting.
Drill 1: Dive and Roll
The players begin against the boards. They skate cross-ice and when they get to the middle of the ice, they dive, do a roll and quickly get up and skate to the other side. This drill emphasizes agility and takes away the fear of falling in a fun manner.
Drill 2: Red yellow, green lights
The players begin against the boards skating cross-ice. On the coach’s command of “green light,” the players start to skate. When the coach yells “red light,” they stop. When the coach says “yellow light,” they fall down on their stomachs and quickly get up. The game ends when the players get to the other side. This drill emphasizes forward skating, stopping and agility.
Drill 3: Stick Jump
Players spread out in the zone and drop their sticks in front of them. On the coach’s command, they jump back and forth over their sticks. On the next drill, the coaches place the sticks on the ice around the faceoff circle. The players then skate in one direction around the circle jumping over the sticks. After a minute, the players change direction. These drills emphasize skating, balance and agility.
Drill 1: Puck Handling, Tight Turns
Players start at one side against the boards and skate around the far faceoff dots, performing tight turns. They do it first without a puck and then with a puck. This drill emphasizes accelerating with the puck, changing directions quickly with the puck and skating with their heads up while carrying the puck.
Drill 2: Circle Puck Handling
Place all the players in the center ice faceoff circle with a puck. Let the players skate in any direction, so they are darting around each other. Have them skate faster on the stick tap and slow down on the next tap, but always keeping their feet and hands moving. This drill encourages players to skate with the puck in traffic. It also teaches them to skate and handle a puck with their head up.
Drill 3: Musical Pucks
The coaches put a bunch of pucks in the middle of the center ice faceoff circle. The players skate around the circle. When the coach taps his/her stick on the ice, all the players dive in the middle to get a puck. Players change direction after each round. After a few rounds, decrease the amount of pucks and eliminate players who don’t get a puck. This drill emphasizes skating, cross-overs, balance and heads up play.
Drill 1: Open net goal (no goalies)
Players start in one corner and carry the puck around the faceoff circle and then shoot on an empty net. As coaches we sometimes forget the value of allowing a player just to score a goal. We want these players to keep coming back so allow them the opportunity at times to always feel good about themselves.
Drill 2: Figure 8 Open Net Shot
A similar drill as the last one but now the players skate around both circles in a figure eight formation then shoot into the open net.
Drill 3: Cross Ice Scrimmage (No Goalies)
Pick two evenly matched teams, turn the nets around and let the players scrimmage. Coaches always encourage the players while keeping the puck in play.