4 Easy but Effective Drills for Your Youth Hockey Team
Practice is essential to the success of any athlete, and hockey players are certainly no exception. But anyone can spend hours skating around every night and firing shots at an open net. It’s up to the coaches and players to ensure practice is worthwhile and that every member of the team is getting the most out of each and every training session.
This is where planning your drills plays such a key role in the development of your players throughout the course of the season. By leveraging smart and effective drills during every practice, you’ll help your team take leaps from one week to the next, rather than simply spending ice time going through the motions.
Finding ways to keep drills both fun and productive is a delicate balance, especially for youth coaches, but it’s an important one to strike. If your youth hockey players are having fun during practice, there’s a greater chance they’ll want to give their all to the drill and that they’ll work hard to get better without even noticing it.
Here are four easy but effective youth hockey drills designed to help growing skaters develop in various areas of stickhandling, passing, and shooting.
Setting Up and Taking One-Timers
One-timers are a must-have skill for growing hockey players – and especially for those looking to advance their game to the high school level or beyond. They require a high level of focus and concentration, not to mention the body control and timing that goes into performing a successful one-timer.
Because of everything that goes into these mechanics, repetition is the name of the game for one-timers – which are a two-way play involving an on-time, on-target pass from one teammate and a strong, accurate shot from another. While practicing one-timers with two teammates is a good idea, it can be just as effective and can lead to more reps when performed with a passing assistant like the PassMaster.
The PassMaster is a triangular tool with a rubber flexband around the edges that forces players to pass with accuracy and pace in order to receive the puck back. During practice, players can send a pass toward the PassMaster and then have it returned back for an on-time one-timer. Pass speed and distance can vary depending on the goal, with the PassMaster being three-sided for multiple players to use at one time.
The PassMaster is made from heavy-duty steel durable enough to withstand frequent passing without moving or sliding – yet light enough to be carried from one spot to the next with ease. It’s great for use in dryland training and also comes with spikes that can be screwed in for on-ice practice.
Stickhandling with control and speed is also a critical skill to learn for developing players, and this drill with the SweetHands can make a big difference during either team or individual training sessions. Created by former NHLer Lance Pitlick, the SweetHands forces players to have great stickhandling form by emphasizing top-hand control, wrist roll, and hand-eye coordination.
For the over-and-back drill, set up the SweetHands in a long, straight line and handle the puck (or stickhandling ball) through each channel back and forth up the row. When you get to the end, turn around and go back again.
For an added challenge, players can time themselves and see who can go down and back the fastest without losing control of the puck. This drill is a great way to work on improving the speed and comfort of typical stickhandling movements.
Over-and-Through Stickhandling to Shot
This drill blends stickhandling with shooting and makes use of the Attack Triangle to simulate a defender. Have your players start with the puck on their forehand before moving it to the backhand through the Attack Triangle and then back to the forehand for a quick shot. Make sure they work on bending their knees and using their weight transfer to change the angle for the goalie while emphasizing movement through the defense.
Once they have the forehand-backhand-forehand drill down, switch to backhand-forehand-backhand to work on getting backhand shots on net in tight.
Catch and Shoot on Target
This drill is fairly simple and focuses on cleanly receiving a pass before firing the puck on-target toward the net. It can be done with either a passing partner or the PassMaster. The puck should come into the slot from either corner behind the net for the shooter to receive, look at their target, and let the shot go. It’s a great drill for getting used to corralling less-than-ideal passes and getting off quick shots in tight windows.
If you have a net during practice but no goalie present, the Ultimate Goalie Shooter Tutor or Hockey Shooting Targets can make great stand-ins to help players still work on their accuracy while aiming at a tangible target.
Bonus Tip: Add Some Weight
These drills are highly effective on their own, but adding some additional weight to either the puck or the stick (or both) is a great way to build up strength in players’ hands and wrists while increasing hand quickness on the ice. After training with a weight puck and/or stick, the real thing will feel light as a feather, helping players move their hands more quickly to get around defenders or to fire off quick snapshots and passes.
The Hockey Stick Weight quickly attaches to the stick toward the blade for some added heft, while the Muscle Stickhandling Ball or Muscle Puck and Ball Set combo provide almost 5x the weight of a standard puck to build up the strength that goes into every shot and pass.
Sharpen Your Team’s Skills with Help from Sniper’s Edge
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Shop our products today to find everything you need to keep developing your game from one season to the next.