Wednesday Drill of the Week: D Skill Shooting

D Skill Shooting

This drill is a modified version of one that I watch Kyle Wallack run.

The drill starts with D on opposite blue lines and Forwards in two lines in the center of the blue line. F1 and F2 exchange a puck while F1 skates towards F2 (rapid fire bumps). F1 then mohawks out to the boards. Meanwhile, D1 and D2 have been exchanging a puck while D1 walks the blue line for a shot (1). D2 then places a puck for D1 near the top of the circle. D1 surrounds it and fires a quick up pass to F1. F1 skates in for a shot on net. D1 now follows the play up ice and recieves a pass from the opposite D line as they hit the blue line, catching and shooting in stride.

The drill then alternates sides, with F2 skating towards F1 line while bumping, etc. This drill could also be done full ice just using defenseman, as the drill primarily focuses on d skills (hence the title).

D Skill Shooting works four specific skills for defensemen:

  1. Walking the blue line while passing (keep eyes up and quick release)
  2. Surrounding a puck, finding your target before you retrieve and firing a quick up pass in the neutral zone
  3. Joining the rush/activating from the offensive blue line
  4. Catching a pass in stride and quickly releasing a shot

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Two Cone Agility

Two Cone Agility.jpg

A simple yet effective agility drill for forwards or defenseman.

Player skates in from just above the top of the circle carrying a puck. The player does a figure 8 around both cones, then passes the puck to the coach standing at the far dot. Coach gives an instantaneous return pass which is one-touched into the net.

The drill is designed to focus solely on the players’ edgework. The variance lies in the skating movement around the cones. First have the player go through on one foot with just inside edges (right at bottom, left at top). Then just outside edges. Then two feet tight turn. Then open hip. Then stop at the bottom, crossover accelerate around the top.

Again, simple drill but change the skating movement to help develop edges, balance and acceleration.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Four Lanes

No diagram for this weeks drill, just an explanation.

This is a great way to bring in quality skill reptitions into your practices. Can be done with any age, we do this with our players at Colby and I did it this morning with squirts. Emphasis is on quality of rep, not speed. Players have to focus on the technique of the skill they are working on.

How it’s set up: simply divide the ice into four lanes using cones. Put three lines of cones up the ice (the long way), two in line with the dots and one in line with the center of the ice. These cones can run from the tops of the circles in one end to the tops of the circles in the other. This creates four lanes up the ice.

Now start all of the players in one corner and have them go one direction in each lane (up lane one, down lane two, up lane three, down lane four and back in line). Each lane will incorporate a different skill set. They can work on any skill that you might want to practice. C cuts, ski edges, open hips, knee touches, 360 spins, stickhandling/dribbling, indirect self passes, weight transfers, etc, etc, etc. Think of any skill you’d work on and figure out a way to incorporate it into a lane setting. THen start the players from one corner. At peak capacity, there should be between 12-16 players going at once, with coaches spread out to monitor and encourage the skill reps.

Great work for players of all ages and a great way to incorporate skill and agility work without sacrificing repetitions and activity on the ice.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: 3 Pass Shooting

3 Pass Shooting

A simple shooting drill with multiple opportunities for passing and receiving. Both lines go at the same time. The first player in each line takes off across the blue line. Near the far dot, they receive a pass from the opposite line and quickly return the puck back to the line they got it from. The player then takes off on a stretch and support pattern through the neutral zone, receiving a pass from the line they started from before heading over the blue line and attacking the net. The same thing is happening on the far side. Across the blue, receive/give a pass, then come back across through the neutral zone to receive a stretch pass and attack the net.

Skills worked here include: passing and receiving with your feet moving, shooting with your feet moving, quick accelerations and change of direction, communication. A great drill to get hands, feet and mouths moving, as well as get some long shots on the goaltenders.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Jackson Conditioning

Jackson Conditioning

This week: A skill drill that includes a conditioning element. The drill starts with X1 and X2 sprinting to the far blueline and stopping, then sprinting the other way. Coach passes to X1, who drives and shoots far pad. X2 crashes for a rebound. After the rebound play, a coach passes the puck to X2 who has popped into soft spot for a catch and shoot. Coach then leaves a puck behind the net for X1 to pick up, cut back and then wrap to the far side. After the wrap, both X’s sprint back to lines.

This drill involves a number of skills and skating agility pieces and also adds some conditioning for your team. A fun way to get some skill and skating work in at the end of practice. Also good for the goalies, as they have an opportunity to play a far pad rebound, a catch and shoot in the slot and then a wraparound.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Defensemen Shooting

Agility Traffic Shooting

Two defensemen shooting drills this week. The first drill is on top, the second drill is on the bottom. Both drills are not quite drawn to scale in order to better illustrate the diagrams.

The first drill is an agility skate. Place a pile of pucks at the dot, with three cones in the corresponding zig-zag pattern. The D skates the pattern always facing the net and with their eyes up the entire time (major point of emphasis). Forward skate to retrieve a puck, transition to backwards and skate around the inside cone, then the outside cone, then walk the line. The net should be positioned in a manner such that the shot has to come through the lane between the first two cones. This creates a shooting target for the D – they are not merely trying to put a puck on net, but get it through a certain area.

The second drill on the bottom is a pure shooting drill. The goal is to get pucks through to the net and teach the D never to get their shots blocked. The shooter starts at the blue line. The blocker/passer starts at the faceoff dot. There are a number of progressions to this drill. In the first one, the shooter starts in line with the hash marks and facing the player who will pass the puck. The passer zips a pass out and then skates straight at the shooter, who has to get a shot on net without getting it blocked. The passer cannot go down to attempt to block the shot, merely skate straight at the shooter with stick out and shins in shooting lane. The shooter is allowed to take a step to either side in an attempt to get the shot through. The second and third variations start with more of an angle – the shooter starts on the wall or in the middle of the ice and the blocker/passer skates in an angling pattern to one side or the other attempting to influence the shooter to move/shoot in that direction. The shooter should always attempt to provide false information and a little movement to get the shot though to the net.

Speed Behind the Puck

I’ve heard a number of people (especially at the higher levels) talk about the concept of speed behind the puck. It’s a concept that has really taken hold in the NHL. In an effort to understand it better myself, I thought I would take some time to break it down.

What is it: Speed behind the puck is the concept that you have a player (often a forward) moving faster than the puck carrier. At it’s most basic level, a player can loop in behind the puck carrier to build up speed. As the puck carrier moves up ice, the support man builds up speed and times his attack to coincide with pressure on a defender. The puck carrier then distributes the puck to the player attacking with speed in space. It can also happen on plays into space – the puck moves north and someone who is supporting below the puck accelerates to cause a change of speed on the attack.

What it is meant to do: The concept is to cause a defender to have to adjust to a speed change and the puck in a different lane. A player may be attacking at a certain speed and in one lane, then someone who has built up speed behind the puck carrier suddenly gets the puck and attacks at a much higher pace along a different path.

Where you see it: Very often it is seen on Power Play Breakouts in the NHL – they try to time the attack to occur at the offensive blue line against a passive forecheck. You’ll also see it against traps and the 1-3-1 forecheck. Speed behind the puck will also show up on simple chip plays – a puck is moved up ice and then chipped to someone with greater speed attacking in a different lane.

What it looks like:

Watch Jeff Carter accelerate behind the puck to retrieve this chip and attack up ice with great speed. With early recognition he gets his feet moving up ice to create speed behind the puck.

Here, Mike Richards has speed behind the puck through the neutral zone – the change of lanes and slightly different speed causes the defenders gaps to be off and allow for zone entry.

Notice Patrick Kane on this clip of the Blackhawks PP Breakout in Game 7. He loops behind the puck in an attempt to pick up speed – while it isn’t a dramatic clip, it shows the basic concept of coming behind the play to gain speed.

Should you use it? This is the biggest question about speed behind the puck. It requires a lot of hockey sense, skill and timing. Players need to be able to skate and move the puck with touch and timing. Personally, I think speed behind the puck is a concept that is a part of the game at every level, but it is rarely recognized or taught. Any time the puck is ahead of you, it is critical to try to accelerate and gain speed to force the defense into a tight spot. Forwards should be taught to accelerate and attack open lanes, even when not a direct option – look to build speed before you have the puck, then use your speed difference to give the defense trouble.

For more on Speed Behind the Puck, check out Darryl Belfry’s videos here and here. Credit to Darryl for being a pioneer in this concept and teaching both coaches and players about the high level skills in the game of hockey. I can’t recommend him enough.