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.