Wednesday Drill of the Week: Breakout Shooting

Breakout Shooting

A simple breakout repetition drill that works on breakout skills for the forwards and defensemen while giving the goalies some long warmup shots.

The drill starts with pucks in both corners and forwards in three lines at the blue line. Each forward will sprint in to simulate D zone coverage, then sprint to breakout position to receive a pass. The second D in line will chip a puck behind the net, the first D will retrieve it, take the net and find the forward on the far side (bottom of the picture) with a breakout pass. The D then picks up a puck from the other corner, gains the net and finds the other wing on a breakout pass. Finally, he retrieves a third puck and finds the center. After receiving a pass, each forward goes down in their lane and takes a long shot on net. To add to the degree of difficulty, we placed obstacles for the forwards to stickhandle around after they gained the offensive blue line.


“There is more than one way to skin a cat” – old English proverb

Much like anything in life, there is more than one way to play the game of hockey. Different methods to teach the game, different styles of play, different theories on success. Is there one right way? Is one system better than others?

The answer is yes, there is one system that is better than others. That system is the one that everyone on the team buys into, believes in, and executes to the best of their abilities. The X’s and O’s of the system aren’t important, it is the buy-in and commitment that matters.

There is also a system that better fits your personnel. It is hard to say what that system is without knowing your personnel, but there are better ways to play the game based upon the players that you have.

Good coaches have a belief in the way that they play the game and the ability to get their players to buy in to that system. Good coaches recruit players that fit their system and style of play. Is there one system that wins every hockey game? No, but there is a system that is right for certain teams and players. Programs that find the right mix of systems and personnel are usually the ones lifting trophies at the end of the year.


One of the great traditions of Colby Hockey is our end of the season banquet. Our team, staff and parents get together to celebrate our award winners and honor our senior class. We give each senior the opportunity to stand up and speak to the audience, sharing his memories of the program and giving thanks to those that helped him get there.

The opportunity to get up and give a speech at the end of your college hockey career is something that exists in few other places in life. When you retire from a desk job, you rarely get the chance to say thanks and goodbye to people. At the end of school you don’t give a speech to your classmates thanking them for all the good times. This is something that is unique and special.

Recognition is something that we don’t practice enough as a society. Not participatory recognition (i.e. 9th place trophies – we do too much of this), but true recognition to the people that help us become who we are and achieve the success that we have. How often do we thank a teacher or a mentor for their help and guidance? How frequently do we call a friend and say thanks for always being there for me?

As I was sitting at our banquet on Saturday I couldn’t help but think of what I would say and who I would thank if I had the opportunity to. I don’t have the proper venue or audience, but I am going to start to reach out to people who have helped me become who I am today. I want them to know they were important in my life and that I recognize the impact they’ve had on me. No one climbs a mountain or flies to space alone – it takes a group to build a success and that group deserves to hear “thank you.”

The Challenge of a Mistake


We all make them. We rarely (if ever) do them intentionally. In the moment we make the best decision with the information that we have at the time.

Hindsight is 20/20. If we knew at the time what we know now then we would have made a different decision and hopefully had a different outcome.

The challenge of making mistakes is the ability to learn from them and move forward. People tend to struggle with one part or the other. Some don’t learn and keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Others have a hard time moving on and dwelling on their mistakes.

This week is Masters week. Golfers will play 18 holes at Augusta National each day for four days. They face the challenge of having to learn from their mistakes on a day to day, hole to hole and shot to shot basis while also moving forward as soon as the mistake is made. Fail to learn from a mistake and you could see the same errant shot on the same hole the next day. Fail to move on from a mistake and a hole that might have been a par could turn into a double bogey.

Mistakes happen. They’re part of life. The most successful people in the world often make the most mistakes. You can’t control making mistakes but you can control how you respond to them. Are you going to make the same error tomorrow? Are you going to stay in the moment and beat yourself up repeatedly?

Or, are you going to process what happened, learn from it, and make yourself better in the future?

Only one answer will get you to where you want to go.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Trailer 4v4

Trailer 4v4

A small area game played in the neutral zone. 3 O’s vs 3 X’s play between the tops of the circles. An additional player is a “trailer” on the offensive side of the puck, being able to move anywhere along the boards or behind the net on one side of the red line. This creates a 4v3 in the offensive zone. We will put a requirement that you have to pass to the trailer. This game creates odd man situations offensively and helps players work on developing hockey sense, spatial awareness and understanding of passing lanes.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Cardinal 2v1

Cardinal 2v1

A half-ice 2v1 drill that we use as part of our pre-game warmup. It can be done in a practice setting as well, a good way to get a lot of pucks and bodies moving.

Forwards start in the corners, D start in the NZ with one D on the blue line and two near the red line. A F passes to the D at the BL who walks the line and takes a shot, this forward then skates to the BL to get onside. At the same time, the other F skates up and sends a pass to the D at the Red Line. The puck moves D to D, allowing the two forwards to get onside and the D who shot the puck to pivot and gap. The two forwards then attack the D who shot in a half ice 2v1.

D need to have good stick and body position, while the F’s need to attack the net with a sense of urgency to create a good scoring opportunity. Goalies see two different situations, getting a long shot from the point as well as a 2v1.

Build Gardens, Not Buildings

Throwback post from Seth Godin and his blog about the importance of growing over the long term. Success doesn’t come overnight, it takes time and persistence – just like gardening.


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