Coach Nielsen's Ice Hockey Drills

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






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

Coach Eaves of Wisconsin Contributes a Nice Flow Drill

Division I University of Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves has contributed another drill to our site. This one is a full ice flow drill that works on supporting the puck in all three zones of the ice. Coach Eaves tells me that he uses this drill every practice right now to get his players in the habit of supporting areas of the ice during the breakout. He suggests that at first you run the drill from only one end at a time and then when the players become proficient in the concepts and positioning you run it from both ends simultaneously. Check it out, hope you find it helpful.

FINN 3×0


Filed under: Defensemen, Drills, Forwards, Passing, Shooting, Stick Handling

New Robert Morris University Drills

Coach Schooley, head coach at Division 1  Robert Morris University has once again offered his help and contributed four high level up tempo drill selections from his drill collection. These drills are designed to help your players work on skating, shooting, passing and timing. As with any high level drill, speed of execution is critical to the drills ability to help your players become better hockey players.

Coach Schooley has been a consistent contributor to this site in our two years of operation and we greatly appreciate his continued support and contributions.

If you’re interested you can follow Robert Morris Ice Hockey online or Coach Schooley on Twitter.


CAPS Shooting

MEANS Shooting

Middle Drive

St. Cloud Rush

View the past drills contributed by Coach Schooley RMU Drills




Filed under: Drills, Passing, Practice, Shooting, Skating

A Few More Drills from the Canadian National Team

I can see from looking at the site stats that we have a very large number of coaches from Canada that use the site and the Canadian National Team Drills section takes a large number of hits daily. With that information in hand I went back and asked for a few additional drills and received four more last night.  I’ve actually used two of these drills in the past under different names and they work really well. Hope you like them.

Maple Leaf Passing

One Touch and Up

Quick Up

Swing Drill


Filed under: Drills, Passing, Practice, Shooting

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.




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

Wisconsin Badgers Half Ice Drill

Coach Mike Eaves of the Division 1 Wisconsin Badgers has contributed a drill to the site that works in a half ice setting and incorporates passing, shooting, transition and skating all into one drill. I ran this drill with my team the other day and it works very well. Take a look and give it a try and let me know what you think.

Coach Eaves has offered to give us additional drills each month throughout the season, so we look forward to those contributions.

Wisconsin Badgers Half Ice Drill – AROSA


Filed under: Drills, Passing, Shooting, Skating

What is needed at the grass roots of hockey….

The following article has been contributed to us by head coach Bob Emery of Plattsburgh University

Coaches need to work on skills, skills and more skills.  You cannot work enough on skills.  Do not worry so much about the game’s systems, such as fore-check, breakout, etc.  In the end your team will not perform well on any system if they do not have the skills.

Work on skating, shooting, stick-handling and passing over and over and over.  By the end of any season if a team works on their skills repetitively they will be a much better team by the end of the season and the systems will be fine.

Get your team on the ice as much as possible.  It is much better to be on the ice three times in a given week sharing 1/3 of the ice then to be on the ice one time having the whole sheet.  If it is done right the cost should be the same.

Incorporate small games in your practices as much as possible.  This is a great way to work on skills especially passing.  Emphasize that it is just as much the responsibility of the receiver to get open as it is for the passer to get him/her the puck.  Small games incorporate many more puck touches in a given game situation.  A player has to have the puck to get better.

Lastly make your players end all drills in practice with a stop in front of the goalie, even if they miss the net and the puck goes into the corner or they score.  Humans are creatures of habit.  We must get them to stop in front of the net, because that is where the rebounds are.  In practice they get in the habit of skating behind the net or peeling off to get back in line.  We need them to stop on the net, getting themselves in the habit of (game situation) scoring goals by rebounds.

Filed under: coaching, Shooting, Skating, Stick Handling

Evaluation/Tryout Season is here

I’ve been asked by a number of coaches for drills that they can use during the evaluation process. Each age group is different but for me the first thing I look for is an ability to skate well. I feel that if a player is a good skater, then a good coach can teach that player how to play hockey, but a poor skater is working from a disadvantage that is hard to overcome without specialized attention and skill development camps.

I’ve put together a page of drills that I find helpful in the evaluation process I go through each year. I hope you find them useful and if you have any of your own personal favorites please send them along and I will share them on this site.

Visit the Evaluation Page




Filed under: coaching, Goaltender, Passing, Shooting, Skating, Small Area Games, Stick Handling

Coach Schooley from Robert Morris University has Submitted a Few Drills for Us

From time to time Coach Schooley of Division 1 Robert Morris sends me a few drills to help build content on the site. Here are three new drills designed to work on individual skills.

Islanders One Touch
AVS 1 on 1
4 Dot Shooting

Remember Coach Schooley works with some of the most talented players in the country, so these drills are designed to be run at a very high tempo. Hope you find these helpful.

Filed under: Drills, Passing, Shooting

Competitive Drills Part II

Here are a few more drills that you can use to build on player skills while creating a competitive environment for the players to compete against each other.

Filed under: Passing, Practice, Shooting, Skating, Small Area Games, Stick Handling



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