Coach Nielsen's Ice Hockey Drills

Double Chip Passing Drill

I picked up this drill from Coach Mark Carlson of the Cedar Rapids Rough Riders of the USHL. As usual I ran this drill myself at practice before I posted it on my blog and it really works nicely once the players get the flow right. This really is a nice drill to teach players how to make a headman indirect pass using the boards. I was surprised at how poorly my teams did this drill the first time we tried it. It really gave me a great opportunity for a teaching moment and the chance to make the players realize how important it is to be able to make this type of pass. Give it a try and see how it works for your team.

Double Chip

Filed under: Drills, Passing, , ,

Beantown Classic Day 2

Had another day of watching good hockey at the classic. The first game was played at the Whittemore Arena on the university of New Hampshire campus. What a great place to watch a game. The game between the Chicago Mission and the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers was a good game with the Mission coming out on top. The best part was I was able to get a few tickets to the UNH v Northeastern DI game tonight and that was a blast to watch. UNH won the game 4-2, but it was pretty hectic down the stretch with NU fighting hard late in the game.

What a joy to watch the Tier I AAA teams and then spend the evening watching high level DI hockey. All the players work so hard every shift, they never seem to let down. The building was full, not sure how many it holds but I would estimate 5,000 to 7,000? I love the college atmosphere. The entire section behind the UNH net was filled with students wearing their hockey jerseys and the band playing music during the game. The fans really get into the game and make it a special experience.Whenever I watch college hockey in that type of setting I have to remind myself that these are students not professional hockey players. They are the same kids that have been playing the game since youth and most are on their last years of playing at the competitive level and they really play hard.

Tomorrow night UNH plays Maine and if I can get lucky again I will try for some tickets to that game as well.

Filed under: General

Beantown Classic in New Hampshire

There are tier I 18AAA teams from all over the country here this week. I watched San Jose play Okangan Hockey Academy
today and there were some really talented players on the ice. We have scouts from many of the top DI colleges in the area looking at the players as well. This tournamnet is a great way for the local schools to see players from all over the country right in their backyard.

Today I was at the Rinks at Exeter to see a few games and tomorrow I will be at the University of New Hampshire rink to watch more.  I know that a majority of the pro level players come from Canada and Europe, but there really is some excellent talent working their way through the teams in the states. The 18AAA level has many of the top 18 and under players in the country playing at venues around the staes and if you get a chance to see one of these games you should check it out.

Three more days of top talent and exciting games to go. I’m looking forward to a great weekend.

Filed under: General, , , ,

Defense Escape Turn Drill

Here is a drill I found on another very good drill site ( Those who have read my posts know that I am big on working defensemen basic skills and I think this drill really does just that. I used this drill with my 16AA team and it worked very nicely along with some of my own skating drills for defensmen.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Defense Escape Turn Drill “, posted with vodpod

Filed under: Defensemen, Skating, Uncategorized, , , ,

Practice Planning

I have been asked by some readers how I plan my practices. Now, my situation is different from others because I have two assistant coaches plus a goalie coach, so I can do things that some coaches may not be able to.

With the above in mind here is what I do from a high level.

Sample 90 Minute Practice Plan

Soft skating (5 min)

This is just letting the players skate around with pucks and get loose

Hard skating (5-7 min)

These are any number of specific skating drills that push the players to work on certain aspects of their skating ability.

Goalie warm-up (5-7 min)

I normally run the 4 corners drill that is posted in the Drills section of this blog. This drill allows the goalies to see different types of shots while at the same time working the skaters.

Split the team into three groups for 30 minutes.




Each group has a specific set of drills that we perform to build the fundamentals to team play. Typically the forwards work on cycling, passing and shooting drills, followed by offensive zone positioning and concepts. We may work on our power play with only the forwards. This allows the forwards to play the point and see what it’s like to be a defenseman during the power play.

The defensemen will work on core skating drills along with partner drills and shooting from the point. We always perform the Cornerstone drill with the defensemen because it works many of the fundamental skills needed to be a solid defenseman.

The goaltenders work on positioning and puck handling.

Some coaches look at the goaltenders as just targets for the rest of the team during practice. Now, I do believe that a goaltender needs to see a lot of shots to work on their game, but you also need to have them work on the fundamentals like skating, stick handling and angles.

Team drills (30 mins)

During the team drills section we work on things like the breakout or face-offs in both the offensive and defensive zones. We also work on flow drills like 2v1 and 3v2 drills. Another thing we go over in some detail at least twice a month is defensive zone positioning. I’m a defensive minded coach and I insist that my teams understand how to play defense in our zone.

I’m a big believer that all players know how to play offense. They have been doing it since they were little kids playing in the driveway. What most players don’t know how to do is play defense, so I make sure we study our defensive responsibilities.

Keep in mind that I coach older players so my practice may be different from your practice. Through the years I’ve learned that at the younger ages you should spend almost all your ice time on skating drills. If players don’t learn to skate at the younger ages, then they will always be behind in their development.

When you get to the middle ages (10-14), you should start working on stick handling and shooting. Players at this age need to be kept involved in the practice so keep them moving.

When you get to the older ages (15-18+) don’t forget to spend some time on the fundamentals each practice. At the older ages the players only want to work on the fun stuff, but you have to keep them focused on always improving. At this age you can really work on system implementation and get them to more fully understand how the game of hockey works.

No matter what age group you work with, keep the practice moving and try to use as much of the ice as possible.

Filed under: General, Practice, , ,



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