Wednesday Drill of the Week: Half Ice D-Zone

Half Ice Down Low PlayA half-ice team drill this week. This is a situational defensive play drill used to practice D-Zone play. The drill starts with a puck rimmed in to the far side. Two forwards and one defenseman are on offense (X’s), while two D and two F’s (O’s) defend. On the whistle, the coach plays a puck to the down low forward on the other side of the ice. Now it becomes 5v5 in zone, with the four defensive players changing sides and the three offensive players resetting and joining the play.

This drill works on two critical elements of play in zone – keeping opponents on the perimeter and pucks changing sides. In zone, pucks changing sides of the ice can create some of the best opportunities for the offensive side. The defensive team has to change their alignment, move to new positions and survey the new scene. Training your team on how to react and how to play these situations will get them more comfortable when this happens in a game.

On the offensive side, it helps your players with playing pucks on the wall, finding creative options (using the point), protecting the puck in outnumbered situations and quick attacks when the puck changes sides. As an offensive player, when the puck changes sides is your critical moment to attack. You should instantly look to beat your man to the net and create an offensive opportunity. Seize the moment of confusion for the defense and take advantage.


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.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: 3v3 on Rim

3v3 on Rim

This drill is a simple 3v3 Drill using one end of the ice. Everyone starts stationary. Offensive team starts with two forwards on the goal line and one in the high slot. Defensive team starts with two defensemen on top of the crease, one forward in the mid slot. The drill starts with a coach rimming a puck to either forward, and then plays out 3v3 from that point.

Why do 3v3 this way? It isolates position specific skills for teaching. First, it allows the forwards to retrieve the puck first, forcing them to work on playing the puck off the runner and working with a defender on their back. Second, it helps forwards to understand spacing, support options and release points when the puck is below the goal line. One the defensive side, it helps defenders work on closing down on attackers, taking away time and space, and anticipating the offensive play. As a team, the quicker you can anticipate what the offensive team will do, the quicker you can shut it down.

As a coach, you can work on individual skills this way, as well as basic down low defensive zone and offensive zone play.