Coach Nielsen's Ice Hockey Drills

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Offensive Tactics with Chris Campanale

Recently my team was having some trouble consistently creating offense. We have a lot of talented players but they were getting lazy and falling back on old bad habits. Sometimes a coach needs to bring in a new voice to speak to the team about some of the concepts he is trying to teach. Chris Campanale is a local professional player who lives in our area and works out at the facility in our rink. I asked Chris if he would be interested in coming out to practice once a week and working with my team on offensive tactics. Chris was very willing to step up and help the younger players develop their offensive skills.

Chris worked with our players once a week for the past three weeks. In the four games before I invited Chris out to skate with us we scored nine goals and went 2-1-1. In the four games since Chris started working with the players we scored 25 goals and went 3-0-1. Now, that is a major turn around and multiple factors played a roll, but Chris’ fundamental tactics were instrumental in the surge in scoring.

Some of the key points.

  • Shoot  the puck from good areas of the ice
  • Shoot from inside the dots (especially the D)
  • Play in the dirty area in front of the net
  • Talk, Talk, Talk on the ice

Here are some of the drills Chris ran with the team to work on these fundamentals.

1 on 1 Four Times

3 on 2 Down Low

4 Shot Net Front Battle

Dump In 2 on 1

Three Quarter Ice 3 on 2

In addition to the above drills that Chris worked on here are two others from Coach Cronin former Northeastern University head coach and current assistant in Toronto, that develop similar skills.

Creating Offense

Three Rush Concepts

Also don’t forget about teaching cycling concepts in the offensive zone. Here is something I put together last season for the progression of cycling drills.

Cycle Progression Drills

Teaching offense is always a difficult task for a coach. So many factors play a role in a successful offensive attack, but if you work on fundamental skills and tactics the players can begin to incorporate those ideas into their general knowledge and start making better and smarter plays in the offensive zone. The offensive game isn’t black and white, it’s mostly gray and centered around the fundamental idea of read and react. Try working on drills that teach specific parts of offensive zone play and I think you will begin to see an improvement in your teams ability to create offense.

Unfortunately for us Chris leaves this weekend to start training camp with the Bloomington Thunder and won’t be around to continue helping us out. We all wish him the greatest success and look forward to working with him again in the future.

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Filed under: coaching, Cycling, Defensemen, Drills, Forwards, Offense, Shooting

Combination Drill From Former NHL Player Tony Horacek

Former NHL player Tony Horacek coaches in our organization and I went out to watch his practice the other night. While watching a really up tempo session I saw his team run this drill and thought it was really excellent and worked on a number of areas of the game. I spoke with Tony about it and got the details and am sharing it with all of you. It is a multi-part drill so I did my best to make it understandable in the diagram, but if you have any trouble I also did a YouTube video explanation. Hope you like it.

Horacek Combination Drill

Filed under: coaching, Cycling, Defensemen, Drills, Forwards, Passing, Practice, Shooting, Transition

Half Ice Drills Section Added to Site

With more and more teams going to shared ice practices to save money, the need for solid half ice drills has become more and more in demand. Those of you who follow my site know that I try very hard not to post drills that I haven’t already run myself with one of my teams. Before I post a drill I want to be sure it serves a purpose. With that being said, I have spent a good deal of time since September trying different half ice drills so I could be sure I was giving you good drills to work with. Here is a collection of 40 drills to start with and I will continue to add more as I go along the remainder of the season. Remember to also add small area games to your half ice practices (even full ice when you can) because they are a great way to incorporate game type situations into a fun drill.

 

Half Ice Drills

Small Area Games

 

 

 

 

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Filed under: Checking, coaching, Cycling, Defensemen, Drills, Forwards, Goaltender, Passing, Shooting, Skating, Small Area Games, Stick Handling

My Favorite Drills

I’m sure all of you were waiting anxiously to hear what my favorite drills to run are (LOL), so here you go. Click on the drill name to see a diagram of the drill.

4 Corners Warm-up

I use this drill almost every practice to get the players warmed up and ready to go. It incorporates skating, passing, shooting and conditioning so the players are really warmed up when you start the main part of the practice. This is really three drills run consecutively. I picked up this drill from Joel Quenneville of the Black Hawks.

Skate & Shoot

I use this drill to work on skating. The focus of this drill is to make sure the players keep their feet moving through the turn. By moving their feet they can generate power through the turn and learn how to power through turns. The drill finishes with a shot on goal but that part is just for the players to stay interested while I’m forcing them to skate outside their comfort level because most players will just coast through the turns if you don’t force them to keep their feet moving.

2v1 Czech

I really enjoy this drill because once it gets going you can really get a nice flow going with all the players. This drill helps the defensemen work on their gap control during the 2×1 portion and then perform a quick transition to a breakout pass. The breakout pass can be a quick hit along the wall or you can have the forwards work up higher and get the D to practice the stretch pass.

Jackson 5

This is another nice drill to keep the players moving and work on different skills. The drill is three players at a time and each will work on different skills during the drill. I got this drill from Coach Schooley head coach at D1 Robert Morris University. I honestly have no idea what the name Jackson 5 means, unless Coach Schooley was a Michael Jackson fan in his youth.

3 on 2 Down Low

I’m a big fan of small area games and this is one I use a lot. This allows the forwards to work on cycling and triangulation in the offensive zone while the defensemen work on support, taking away the passing lanes and clearing the puck skills.

Honorable Mention Category

Small Area Games

As I stated above, I am a big fan of this type of training and I believe you should work in one or two to your practices as often as possible. Small area games give your players the chance to work on skills in a condensed area of the ice and it can really pay big dividends in game situations.

Here is a link to an article on the importance of small area games.

15/10 Game

When it comes time for a little fun this is a nice drill to work on skills while creating a competitive atmosphere between your forwards and defensemen. Basically the forwards need to score 15 goals in 10 minutes. The progression is 2×0, 2×1, 3×2, 1×0.

 

So that is my list of favorite drills. If you have your own favorites let us know by posting a comment and if it’s a drill we don’t have on the site we’ll add it. As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by the site, I hope we can continue to provide quality information to help you run better practices. We should have a half ice drill section added shortly and we continue to get drills from D1 and D3 coaches each month so look for those as well.

 

Remember, it’s our job as coaches to help our players develop so they can move to the next level, so stay focused on developing skills as much as possible.

 

 

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Filed under: 1 x 1 - 2 x 1 - 3 x 1, Conditioning, Cycling, Defensemen, Drills, Forwards, Passing, Practice, Shooting, Skating, Small Area Games, Warm-Up

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under: coaching, Cycling, Offense

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