Coach Nielsen's Ice Hockey Drills

Cycling the Puck for Offensive Success

We all know the importance of “cycling” the puck in today’s game. One of the issues with coaching is trying to get your players to understand the concept and effectively incorporate it into the action. One of the problems with players who aren’t adept at cycling the puck is that once they start to learn its proper use they forget to attack the net, instead theyjust continue to cycle the puck!

I’ve put together a progression of drills with the help of many coaches to help you work on the teaching points of cycling the puck. The bottom line is that cycling is used to create scoring chances by confusing the defensive team and causing them to open seams in their defense that your team can exploit for scoring chances. Make sure your players understand that the ultimate goal of cycling the puck is to get scoring chances……..not to look good moving the puck through the corners. Teach them to “read” the defensive positioning and take advantage of the opening that a good cycle will create.

These drills work off the idea of a “dead zone” in the corners of the offensive zone where the defensive team is normally not covering. It also uses the idea of “net presence” with the secondary forward to make sure you have players in good position to execute the cycle as well as create traffic in front of the goaltender.

A good cycle is important to your overall offensive zone philosophy, but doesn’t have to be a play that is executed every time you are in the offensive zone. Once you teach your players how to cycle the puck you should begin to see them incorporate it at different times throughout games. Cycling is a concept that needs to be reinforced throughout the season so the players can first understand the concept and then begin to incorporate it into their offensive zone play. Keep in mind that being a good coach means getting your players ready to advance to higher levels of play and being properly prepared.

Good luck and we hope these drills enable you to teach your players the art of cycling the puck in the offensive zone.

Cycle Progression Drills







Filed under: coaching, Cycling, Offense

Summer Conditioning Program

For most of us the team has been selected and the spring leagues are over, now we get some time off until it all starts again in mid to late August. How do you keep your players in condition when you have no team conditioning sessions for another two months? One way is to give your players a summer conditioning program they can do on their own. Over the years I’ve found that if you give the players a program that is too intense they won’t stick to it on their own, so I’ve developed a simple 30 minute program that they can do on their own every other day. The program can be done in the basement, in the driveway or the local school parking lot. All you need is a good pair of sneakers and a piece of chalk.

One of the goals of this program is to build endurance and I have found that running is the best way to accomplish that goal. At the end of the exercise program the player runs a 1/2 mile. The goal is to finish that 1/2 mile run in 3 minutes and 30 seconds or less. The normal high school athlete in good condition can run a mile in seven minutes, so 3:30 is a good goal.

I will post this program and video on the website so you can share it with your players if you would like. Just give them the website address and tell them to look in the Summer Conditioning section.

Below are the individual exercises followed by a video that briefly describes each exercise. As with any exercise program make sure you stretch before you begin to avoid injury.

Summer Conditioning Program
Designed to work on upper body strength,endurance, legs and core. Perform this program for thirty minutes every other day.
Do a few minutes of basic stretching exercises.
o Quad pulls
o Down the middle
o Side to side
o Toe grabs
o Butterfly

Part I
These drills are performed in a continuous flow. Go from one to the next with no break in between.

• 10 Push-Ups
• 5 Dot Agility Drill – 2 sets
• 10 Sit-Ups
• Left Leg Hop (5 Cycles) – 2 sets
• 10 Push-Ups (Incline if you can)
• Two Leg Hop (5 Cycles) – 4 Sets
• 10 Sit-Ups
• Right Leg Hop (5 Cycles) – 2 Sets
• Octagon Hop (8 Cycles) – 4 sets

Break 2 minutes
Part II
These drills are performed in a continuous flow.

• 10 Push-Ups (Incline if possible)
• 10 Prisoner Squats – 2 Sets
• 10 Bicycle Sit-ups
• 10 Squat Thrusts – 4 Sets
• Planks – 3 of 20 seconds each – 2 Sets
• 10 Push-Ups (Incline if Possible)
• 10 Bicycle Sit-ups

Break 2 minutes
Part III

• 20 Push-Ups
• 20 Sit-Ups

• ½ mile run (goal time is 3:30)

The above program is designed to work a player for 30 minutes every other day and help them stay in shape throughout the summer when they are not with their team. Each player can increase the total number of push-ups and sit-ups above and beyond what is outlined above if they want to go longer and harder than 30 minutes.

If possible work with a friend who can help keep you motivated and on course.

Filed under: coaching, Conditioning



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