Coach Nielsen's Ice Hockey Drills

Team Canada Passing Drills

Here are a couple of simple but effective passing drills supplied by the coaches of Team Canada.
When working on passing drills make sure your players stay focused on the fundamentals of a good pass.

  • Head-up
  • Stick on the Ice to receive
  • Tape to Tape
  • Good Pace on the Pass
  • Don’t get lazy and make sloppy passes

Each of these drills are run at full speed with timing involved. Make sure the players accelerate into the receiving zone.

Team Canada 2×0
Team Canada Outlet Pass


Filed under: coaching, Drills, Passing, Practice

Nightmare Drill

I was at the rink the other day and watched a team run this really interesting full ice 10 man drill. Basically it has breakouts running from both ends of the ice followed by different types of even or odd man rushes. I spoke to the coach and asked him about the drill and he said he picked it up from the St. Norberts DIII college team and it was called the Nightmare Drill. The drill really forces players to pay attention and to keep their heads up through the neutral zone.

Nightmare Drill




Filed under: coaching, Drills, Practice

Small Area Games from Jim Johnson Part II

Here are another set of small area games and drills from San Jose Sharks assistant coach Jim Johnson.

2×2 Confined Area

2×2 Offensive

3×2 Transition

3 Way 1×1






Filed under: coaching, Drills, Practice, Small Area Games,

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

DIII Head Coach Jack Arena of Amherst College Offers 4 Small Area Half Ice Drills

Coach Arena has been the head coach at Amherst University for over 30 years. In 2008-09 he won Coach of the Year honors for NESCAC and New England hockey writers ECAC East. In 2011-12 he won National Coach of the Year honors from the AHCA. I contacted Coach Arena and asked him if he would be interested in contributing a few drills to our site and he agreed. I told him I’ve been receiving many requests for half ice drills because so many teams now share ice to save on cost. Coach Arena supplied us with four very nice half ice drills that go beyond just small ice games. Take a look and see what you think.

I will add these drills to the Half-Ice section and also an Amherst College section for future use if Coach Arena would like to contribute additional drills.

4v4 Back-To-Back

4v4 Transition

Plattsburg 2v1

3v3 Forecheck/Breakout


Filed under: coaching, Defensemen, Drills, Forwards, Goaltender, HalfIce, Passing, Practice, Shooting, Small Area Games, Transition

Play Manager Coaching Software now a FREE Download

I just saw this yesterday and wanted to pass it along to all the readers. I’ve used the Play Manager software for years to do drill and system animations for my teams and now the developers have made the program available for FREE. You can use this software to also draw out your drills/systems and print them with the added bonus of creating animations as well. The software takes a little time to learn, but so do all animation packages, but once you learn how to use it, it can be very helpful. The developers stopped making updates to the program a few years ago but it still works fine. Bottom line is that it’s free and can be used for animations and drill drawing so it’s worth a look. Go to or click the image below.

Couple this software with some basic free screen capture software like Techsmiths Jing and a YouTube account and you can post your drills online for your team to watch.



Filed under: coaching, Practice

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

A Few New Practice Drills

Sorry it has been so long since I posted new drills, but have been very busy coaching two teams plus games, I’m sure you all know the feeling. Here are a few drills I received from coaches associated with Team Canada and I ran each of these the past two weeks at my team practices to see how they worked. All four are very nice and force the players to skate hard and pay attention.

Team Canada Rush – This one I like a lot. It has two parts that are run simultaneously and it creates traffic in the neutral zone while working on shooting / passing and skating. Make sure the defenseman who starts the breakout skates hard to get to the far blueline.

Team Canada 3×1 – This drill works on teaching the defensemen to jump into the rush off a neutral zone regroup. On the play the defensemen has the option of passing to a wing or skating with the puck, but make sure no matter what he does he jumps into the play.

Canuck 2×1 – This drill works on passing and tempo. Make sure the forwards are skating hard coming out of both zones and make sure the passes are hard and on the tape. Once this drill gets going it flows real nice.

5 Passes Warm-up – This drill is designed as a beginning of practice passing and receiving drill. It gives the players a chance to skate / shoot / pass & receive all in one cycle around the rink.

Hope you find these drills helpful. Enjoy the remainder of your season and good luck if you are in the hunt for playoff spots!

I will add these drills to the Canadian National Team section and the 5 passes drill will be added to the Warm-up section.

Filed under: coaching, Defensemen, Drills, Forwards, Passing, Practice, Shooting, Skating, Warm-Up

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



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