Coach Nielsen's Ice Hockey Drills

St. Norbert’s 1×1 Warm-up Drill

Here’s another drill from the coaches at St. Norbert’s. This drill can be used at any time during a practice session but I like it as an early practice warm-up type of drill. Give it a try.

1on1 – 3 Passes


Filed under: 1 x 1 - 2 x 1 - 3 x 1, coaching, Defensemen, Drills, Forwards, Stick Handling

New Drills from Robert Morris University

Head coach Derek Schooley at Division I Robert Morris University has given us three new drills that he runs with his team. Coach Schooley has been a major contributor to this site and his continued participation is greatly appreciated.

Defenseman Shot and Hinge – This drill works passing, receiving, shooting and skating skills for your defensemen in a drill that mimics game like situations. You will need three coaches to act as passers or you can have the other defensemen not running the drill work as the passers.

Kosty Lateral Transition – Nice drill designed to get your defensemen skating with the puck laterally and making the transition pass to start the breakout from the neutral zone. The drill ends with the forwards going hard to the net 2 on 0.

Pearl Small Area Game – This is a nice take on the small area game drills that many coaches use these days. Basically a 2 on 2 with a transition to a new set of two players. The drill is continuous and gets everyone involved pretty quickly.

I hope you find these drills helpful.


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

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

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

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

Drills for Forwards

Recently I’ve been asked by coaches to provide drills to work on skills for just the forwards. I got together with a few coaching buddies and came up with a list of some drills that will help develop skills specifically designed for forwards. Many of the drills on the site already have the forwards working in conjunction with the rest of the team to build team concepts, but these drills go to the specific parts of the forward play that can help the overall team concept. We hope you find them helpful.

Keep in mind some of the best drills to work on skills for forwards are included in the small area games section, so be sure to look at those as well.

Also cycling is a major part of the forwards skill set so be sure to work on some of the drills in the cycling section.

Filed under: coaching, Drills, Forwards, Passing, Shooting, Skating, Stick Handling

Stickhandling with Shoulder/Head Fake

Many players have great hands and a tremendous reach while stickhandling. This no doubt is from 100’s of hours of practice on the ice, driveway, and basement. It’s unbelievable what players can do now from pulling the Michigan at full speed to toe dragging the puck like it’s on a string. This is great and I’m constantly amazed by the stickhandling talent of young players.   But something that can easily be integrated and will propel your stickhandling to the next level is using a head/shoulder fake. This provides the elusiveness that you find in all world class stickhandlers.   If you only move the puck laterally while keeping your shoulders square then you’ll rarely fool an opposing player. While growing up in Long Island I learned from Aleksey Nikiforov, a former Russian pro for Dinamo Riga, that the basis for any stickhandling movement is to rotate your upper body.   A good defenseman will focus on the puck carrier’s chest. So the puck carrier must essentially make his “chest disappear.” This creates what we call shiftiness and makes the D man commit to one side and then the player explodes in the other direction around him. Aleksey taught players to constantly move your upper body and head when you have the puck in any situation remotely near an opposing player. It keeps them off balance and provides you, the puck carrier with more space.   The movment consists of stickhandling quickly just outside one foot(either right or left) then pulling the puck across the body along with a shoulder/head fake to get the defenseman leaning to that side –The more you exaggerate the fake, the more the opposing player will bite on it–and then pushing the puck all the way to the extreme outside of the other foot. Now you have a step on the defenseman and can use your speed to bust wide around him.

It’s a little tough to explain so I made a video that will help.  Practice this movement and you will elevate your game to the next level.

Courtesy of Brett Henning

Filed under: Drills, Stick Handling, , ,



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