Wednesday Drill of the Week: King Low

King Low

A simple defensive drill that works on outnumbering the puck and teaching players to anticipate plays down low. Three defensive players start at the net front (typically 2 D and 1 F). Two forwards start with a puck on both walls – they can be facing the wall, facing out, vary positioning to change skills worked on. On the whistle, the three defensive players sprint to defensive positioning and play an outnumbering situation, 3v2. Typically speaking, the first player on the puck is taught to hit and pin into the wall, the second man is looking to take the available play away (anticipate the pass to the partner and go right to him) and the third defensive player is looking to come in and take the puck. Once one side goes, the whistle blows and the same three players expand to the other side of the ice. The offensive players are trying to protect the puck and challenge the defensive players to outnumber and take it away.

We use this drill to teach defensive concepts – hitting, pinning, anticipating options, quickly attacking and outnumbering on the defensive side of the puck. Can be done in one end or both depending on numbers.

Goaltenders – Playing on the Edge

Anyone who has played, coached or worked in hockey knows that being a goaltender is different from any other position in any other sport. All eyes are on you to not make a mistake. Perfection is the goal, yet is seldom obtainable. You are measured not by how many times you succeed, but by how many times you fail. A starting goaltender will often play 80-90% of his or her teams minutes over the course of a season.

For these reasons, goaltenders have to be able to welcome and invite pressure. They have to embrace the challenge and learn to play on the edge. The mental game is the heart and soul of the position. It is a fine line between being sharp and being jittery, between being calm and being too relaxed. The “Edge” for every goaltender is going to be different, but every goaltender must find that edge where they are mentally and physically at their peak. Every successful goaltender I’ve ever worked with has known their edge and how to get to it without going over.

What is the “Edge?” It’s the point where “I don’t care if I give up a goal” meets “You’re never going to score on me.” It’s where “Holy crap I have to play great for us to win” meets “I’m the best goaltender in this league.” The “Edge” is the intersection between serenity and anxiety, a state of hyper-alertness where you can confidently welcome new challenges without dwelling on the past.

How do you get to the “Edge?” Every goaltender, just like every person, is different. Some listen to music. Some visualize. Some watch film. Some use routines. You shouldn’t be too nervous or too relaxed. It doesn’t matter what gets you there, what’s important is that you can get to a place where you feel confident and ready to play at your peak.


Wednesday Drill of the Week: Blackbear Backcheck



Blackbear Backcheck to DZC


A rush drill with backpressure that results in OZ/DZ play. Three X forwards start on the hashmarks of the faceoff circle, two O defensemen start on the blueline. Coach rims a puck around the boards, the forwards pick it up and attack 3v2. As soon as the puck is rimmed, two X defensemen come around the net and activate into the rush, at the same time 3 O forwards come around the net and backcheck to the defensive zone.

Once the rush is played out (a 3v2 with one or two activated D and backcheckers), the teams play 5v5 in zone. This drill works on initial rush concepts, funnelling/backchecking to the defensive zone, and in zone play on both offense and defense. A good drill that allows coaches to install systemic play in zone.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Forecheck Game

Small Area Game this week:

Forecheck Breakout


Two teams in two different colors. Nets across from each other at the back of the circles (with enough room to skate behind. A puck is dumped in to one corner or the other (behind the net, corner, etc). Three players from each line leave on the dump. Players have to skate behind the OPPOSITE net from where the puck is dumped. Players are trying to score on the net that is CLOSEST to their line (as opposed to the standard far net). In this diagram, the “Os” are attacking the bottom net and the “Xs” are attacking the top net.

The team that retrieves the puck should always be trying to “break out” from their end and attack the far net. The team that has to skate the farthest then is in a “forechecking” situation. This is a great game to work on the basics of your team systems. Three players can execute a simple systemic breakout or a simple forecheck. A competitive way to teach and reinforce systems of play

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Lowell Progression

Lowell Progression


A progressive rush drill today. This one will work defensemen on regroup/quick counter situations, as well as playing half ice 2v1 rushes.

To start the drill, one forward skates up to just before the red line and passes to a D standing inside the blue. The D does an escape and then passes to the forward who has stretched for a 1v0 breakaway. After the escape, two forwards take off and pass a puck to the D who does another escape and then hits the two forwards who attack a D who steps in 2v1. A new D then takes his place and the drill starts again. This drill can be run on 2/3rds of the ice or run from alternating ends.

One of the benefits of this drill is it can be a situational rush drill (you can easily make it a 3v1 or a 3v2) and it is a good drill to run if you have a goalie coach who is working with the goaltenders in one end of the ice.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: DZ Funnel

DZ Funnel


Simple DZ practice drill this week. X’s (offensive team) start at the tops of the circles/hash marks (F/D). O’s (defensive team) start on the blue line. On the whistle, each group skates to the next line up ice and then plays 5v5. A coach places a puck in the defensive zone where the O’s have to Backcheck to D Zone Coverage and then sort out their positioning and how they will play the situation. The X’s pick up the puck and set up in their offensive zone formation.

This drill is for D Zone reps and getting players to understand where they backcheck to. It also helps them to figure out where to play positionally and how to sort out messy situations in their own zone. It can be controlled as much or as little as you want – place pucks in certain areas, stop the drill to teach to the team, etc etc.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Finnish Transition

Finnish Transition


This week is a drill that works on play recognition and transition. Two D start at the dot and hash marks on one side, two F start at the dot and hash marks on the other side. On the whistle, the forwards sprint towards the coach standing inside the far blue line while the D quickly gap up. The coach has the option to either give the puck to the F for a 2v2 rush, or give the puck to the D for a counter attack and 4v0 rush.

D should focus on a tight gap and reading the play – if they counter they should surround the puck and quickly transition it to the forwards. If the play is a 2v2 rush, they need to have good sticks, efficient feet and good gap control. Forwards need to focus on quickly getting up ice and then creating rush options. If it is a 2v2: isolate a D and create a 2v1, net drive to create space, cross and drop with a pick, etc. If it is a 4v0: net drive shot far pad, net drive D fills lane, etc.