Hockey Practice Drills
This article gives a basic overview of practice hockey practice drills. Giving a brief rundown of specific practice categories, the article is a good primer for a beginning coach to devise a practice routine that is both efficient and effective, maximizing results and taking care to cover all aspects of the game.
Hockey Practice Drills
Ice hockey is a demanding sport that requires timing, speed, skill, and, most of all teamwork. Developing hockey practice drills that emphasize those characteristics is essential to the improvement of both individual players and hockey teams. It’s important that all aspects of the game are covered by drills, from the basics of warming up and skating to more specialized areas like offense, defense, special teams, and goalie skills.
Warming Up and Conditioning
As in any other sport, ice hockey requires a player to get his body ready for the demanding rigors of game competition. The way hockey is played requires players to have the conditioning to go all out in short bursts, although on lower levels, players often play the majority of the game. Hockey practice drills which emphasize stamina and skating skills are a necessity. These should include skating at a slow pace for a longer period of time and ones that require sprint skating.
The unique set of skills necessary to become a good hockey player can only be acquired by effective drilling. Skating agility can be achieved using drills that require players to stop and start and make quick turns and zigzags up and down the ice. Placing pylons around the rink and devising drills utilizing the pylons will allow players to get the feel for the flow of game action.
Puck-handling is a crucial skill for all individual players to master. Drills that force the player to shift the puck from their strong hand to their weak hand and to swerve around obstacles while maintaining control can help to achieve this. Shooting drills should have players working on their aim and their shot speed without a goalie present to instill confidence in their shot. Drills should also emphasize shooting from different areas on the ice and shooting on the move.
Basic passing skills are improved using drills without any defensive pressure. That allows the players to develop confidence in their ability and to concentrate on their target rather than the defense. This type of 2-man or 3-man passing skills also aids team chemistry. Defensive drills should begin on an individual level, starting with one-on-one drills that teach a player how to stop the puck.
Once the individual aspect has been tackled, drills that help to strengthen the chemistry and cohesiveness of a team should be implemented. As in the passing drills, offensive team drills should begin without any defensive pressure. For instance, when working on a power play, it’s a good idea to drill on puck movement against no defense, before adding defenders one by one to increase the pressure.
Goalies also have to be a big part of any practice drilling. Rapid-fire shooting and rebound drills will help with quickness and reaction time, although shots should be aimed low in any drill to prevent a novice goalie from developing a fear of the puck.
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