Wednesday Drill of the Week: Quick Up Shooting

Still looking for Drill of the Month Club Members!!! Email me if you’re interested – first set of drills goes out October 5th!

Quick Up ShootingThis week we have a drill called Quick Up Shooting. Emphasis here is on puck retrievals and quick counters. Forwards start on the goal line, and on opposite sides of the circle. D start on the blue line. Coaches with pucks are on the hash marks in opposite zones. On the whistle, everyone activates at once. The forward on the goalline sprints to just inside the offensive blue line. The forward on the circle skates in a support pattern through then neutral zone. The D skates backwards, pivoting to find the puck. The D fires the puck up to the posted forward, who then attacks 2v0 with the forward coming in support – they can chip, cross and drop, drive, etc as they attack the net.

D need to focus on powerful backwards C cuts, knowing where their outlets are, and surrounding the puck before firing a good hard pass up ice. The forwards need to read the play, understand their support and make the appropriate play – whether it is an indirect chip, an area pass, etc. Attacking the net, the forwards should be creative and use the ice to their advantage. I like to see a variety of plays, including good net drive, far pad shots, cross and drop, etc.



Wednesday Drill of the Week: Finnish Transition

Finnish Transition


Two on two transition drill today. Two forwards and two D go on a whistle. Forwards head towards the far blue line, D look to gap up. Coach has pucks and can choose whether to give the puck to the forwards for a 2v2 rush, or to give the puck to the defensemen turning the play into a regroup situation and a 2v0 +1 rush the other way. This drill works on play recognition and quick situational transition. Players have to recognize the play, what their options are, and attack accordingly. We use our system of play when running this drill, teaching our defensemen to understand their options with the puck, and our forwards to sprint to the proper neutral zone positioning on a counter attack.

Explosive Power

Explosive power is a critical part of the game of hockey. The ability to quickly accelerate in one direction or another is often pivotal to the way the game is played. Both forwards and defensemen need this first step burst to try to gain an edge on their opponent.

This power can be built up both in the weight room and on the ice. Explosive power in the weight room easily translates to the ice. When lifting, be sure to control the weight and try to generate as much thrust as possible when doing any type of explosive leg lifts. This will help to train your legs and build the explosive power. On the ice, quick acceleration drills will help to improve footwork and skating skills – both critical parts of a skating burst in any direction. Drills requiring stops and starts, a quick start from a standstill, or anything that pushes the limits of your speed and acceleration will be beneficial.

Hockey has become a game of quick transition and seizing opportunity. Players and teams that are able to harness their explosive power and skate effectively to take advantage in transition are going to generate more chances. Push yourself beyond your limits in the weight room and in practice and you will be better prepared when the opportunity presents itself in a game.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: NZ Transition

Neutral Zone Forecheck/Transition to Defense Drill this week…


This drill starts with three red F’s going 3v2 on two blue D. When the rush plays out, a coach blows the whistle and plays a second puck into the neutral zone. Three blue F’s come off the bench to forecheck the puck while the red players attempt to regroup and counter attack. The puck is regrouped and then red attacks the zone 5v5 while blue backchecks to proper defensive positioning. Play can continue as long as desired in the zone, once blue gains possession, they breakout and attack 3v2. The drill then continues, with two new blue D regrouping on the next whistle.

Players must focus on a number of execution points throughout the drill. First, they must properly execute a 3v2 rush on both sides of the puck. Second, players need to work through a neutral zone situation (counter attack and nz forecheck). Finally, a transition to defense/5v5 zone play segment ends the drill for one group. As a complete entity, the drill works different in-game scenarios for every player on both sides of the puck.

Transition Hockey

These days, the sport of hockey is all about Transition. Offensive Transition, Defensive Transition, Transition Transition. OK, I’m kidding about that last one, but winning hockey games often comes down to winning the transition game.

Offensive Transition is the action of moving from defense to offense. It involves quickly changing directions and attacking off of a loose puck or a turnover. Players must recognize the opportunity to generate a quick attack or an odd-man rush. Offensive Transition often involves a quick first step and explosive speed, as well as defensemen jumping into the play and players using open ice. Head-manning the puck, area passes, indirect passes, slant support, and middle lane drive are all important concepts to master in Offensive Transition. Teams that are good in Offensive Transition attempt to catch their opponents moving the wrong direction and take advantage of players caught up ice.

Just as O-Transition involves moving to offense, so does D-Transition involve the process of moving from Offense to Defense. Similar to O-Transition, Transition to Defense involves a quick first step and explosive speed. D-Transition also involves effort and will power. Communication, awareness, play recognition, stick skills and tie-ups are crucial to successful Defensive Transition. Teams that excel in defensive transition play with a sense of urgency and are effective at reading the play and taking away the most dangerous option for their opponents. In D-Transition, it is often not the first or second man back that makes the difference, but the third or the fourth player making an effort or failing to pick up their player on the backcheck that is the difference between a harmless rush and a goal against.

Why is Transition hockey becoming so critical in hockey today? Players are getting faster, stronger, and more explosive and the game is moving up and down the ice at a quicker pace. This has forced teams to be better at defending the rush, which has resulted in more opportunities to transition to offense. The transition game is similar to the chicken/egg argument – does good D-Transition lead to O-Transition or is it the other way around? Either way, it is imperative that teams excel in both areas and have great first step quickness and explosive speed.