Coach Nielsen's Ice Hockey Drills

ACHA Select Team Practice

On December 26th and 27th I had the opportunity to watch the ACHA Select team practice in Albany, NY in preparation for their trip to Europe to play in the ACHA Challenge. My 22 year old son was fortunate enough to be selected to be a part of this team as one of the defensemen and I had to drive him to the facility in NY and decided to stay the night and watch all three practices. The team is coached by Mike Forbes a former NHL player and currently the head coach at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Coach Forbes has won a national championship and been selected as Coach of the year in his five seasons at GVSU. I was really interested to see how he would structure his practice sessions since he had just three sessions to get the team on the same page before they went off to Europe to begin play on December 29th.

The first session was mostly standard practice drills to get the team skating and to give him a chance to see what his team looked like. He also spent time walking through the defensive systems he would use. The second and third practice sessions had more detailed drills for specific areas of the team as well as 3 on 3 play. The practices were up-tempo and he kept things moving along at a very nice pace. The team looked good even as they were trying to find their way as a team.

In this first installment I’ll post the drills that were used in the warm-up section of the three practices. Drills that just had the team skating and getting the goaltenders ready. In part two I’ll post the other drills that I saw him run to develop specific portions of the team game. In all I picked up ten drills to post on the site and I also watched him run drills that are pretty standard type of 2v1 or 3v2 structured drills that I won’t post. Normally I don’t post anything that I haven’t run with my team first but since I was able to watch the Select team run through these drills I have a good feel for them and think they are solid drills for any of us to run with our teams.

ACHA Continuous Line Passing

ACHA-Cross-Ice With 7 Passes And Shot

ACHA-Drive The Net WarmUp

ACHA-Goaltender WarmUp

Click to Download the Drills

Click to Download the Drills

Filed under: coaching, Drills, Warm-Up

1 v 1 Drill Section Added to Site

From time to time you need to run 1v1 drills to work on those skills. Every player needs to know how to defend the 1v1 and how to create offense during the 1v1. Here is a selection of drills that I use throughout the course of the year to work on the 1v1 skills. As I stated in a prior post, I don’t allow my forwards to use the move where they put the puck between a defenders legs and try to go around him to pick it up again. In these drills I want my forwards to work on power moves to either the inside or the outside and to also use the defender as a screen and shoot through their legs. I also insist that they continue to work hard to the front of the net and look for rebounds. For the defensemen I want them to try and keep the rush to the outside whenever possible and to concentrate on the chest of the offensive player. My philosophy on defending the 1v1 is that the defensive player’s job is to ride the offensive player to the outside or off the puck and the backchecker should be there to pick up any loose pucks. Too often you see the defender look down at the puck to try and make a play and the offensive player goes right around him because of that look down. Keep your eyes on the chest and feel for the puck with your stick.

The one downside to running 1v1 drills is it causes a lot of standing around because only two players are working at the same time or four if you go in both directions, so be sure to make the drills run quickly and have the players clear the front of the net as soon as they are finished. I hope you find these drills helpful.

1 v 1 Drills Section

Filed under: 1 x 1 - 2 x 1 - 3 x 1, Drills

Robert Morris Head Coach Derek Schooley Brings Us Another Drill

Last week Coach Schooley gave us the Raider Passing drill and today he offers us Canadians Reverse 1 on 1. Last night at practice I ran this drill along with a few others that are designed to work on 1 on 1 skills. This drill works on communication between the defensemen as well as defending the 1 on 1 rush. It works best with six defensemen but can work just as well with four or five also. Make sure D2 is talking to D1 and calling for the reverse. Don’t allow the D to just make the pass without the communication aspect of the drill. The D need to get used to talking to each other in practice so they can do it properly in a game. With the forwards make sure you make them use different attack options during the rush. I don’t allow my players to try the move where they put the puck between the defenders legs and try to get around them during this drill. I want the forwards to work on a power move down the wall if the D has a tight gap, or if the D has a loose gap use him as a screen and fire a shot through his legs at the goaltender. I think it’s important for a forward to have a few moves they can use so forcing them to practice specific moves during this drill will help to make them a more well rounded player. We all know that come game time they are very likely to just try and put the puck between the legs of the defender but if they practice a few other moves maybe they will attempt it during a game.

I hope you find this drill useful, I know it worked well for my team.

Here are two other drills that work on 1 on 1 situations.

Brownie Quick-Up 1×1

123 Flow

Canadians Reverse 1on1


Click to Download the Drill

Click to Download the Drill



Filed under: coaching, Defensemen, Drills, Forwards, Practice, Shooting

Half-Ice Practice Plan

I get a lot of requests for half ice drills because so many teams are sharing ice to save money. My team practices once each week on shared ice so I thought I would post one of my practice plans for a half ice practice so you can see the type of drills I run with my team. Keep in mind I coach a Tier I Midget 16 team so my needs may be different from yours. I am a huge fan of small area games and I allocate around fifteen minutes of every practice to running different small area games. I start all my practice sessions with five minutes of  informal skating and stick handling then I go into a drill to warm-up the goaltenders. Take a look at the plan, maybe it will give you a few ideas to help with your half ice sessions.

Half Ice Practice Plan

Update: I will add additional half ice practice plans to the Half-Ice Drill section of the site as the season goes along.

Filed under: coaching, Practice

Head Coach Derek Schooley Brings us This Simple but Effective Passing Drill

Yesterday I received this simple but very effective passing drill from Derek Schooley ( @DerekSchooley Twitter handle ) head coach at Robert Morris University. Coach Schooley was the very first D I coach to offer to help with this site when I first started it three years ago so it was really great to get some unsolicited drills from him again yesterday. I took it to practice last night and used it with my team and was very pleased with how it flows. You don’t need goaltenders for this drill so my guys were working with the goalie coach while the team executed the drill. If you don’t have a goalie coach to occupy your goaltenders just have them do some crease movement drills or run it the last few minutes of practice and let the goalies go off the ice early. Make sure the players execute the drill with a high tempo and be sure to make them keep their sticks on the ice so the passes can be quick one-touch type of passes.

Raider Passing Drill

Click to Download the Drill

Click to Download the Drill


Filed under: coaching, Drills, Passing, Practice



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