There’s practicing and there’s practicing with a purpose. For hockey players eager to improve your skills and up your overall game, you’ll want to practice with a purpose. This means having a plan for each training session, practice, or drill that you do. Since ice time is usually hard to come by and can also be very expensive, we’ve organized a 60-minute practice plan to maximize your time on the ice. You can choose to either do most of these drills on your own or with a small group of friends – let’s say two forwards, two defensemen, and a goalie. We’ve also selected several drills that you’ll be able to do with only half the ice in case you’re able to find stick and puck skates near you where not too many people attend. And who knows, maybe the skaters who show up will want to join in on your practice session.
Before getting out on the ice, it’s important to set a goal (or goals) for yourself at the start of your training so you can track your progress as you go. As long as you know that you’re working toward something greater and can see yourself improving each and every practice session, it’ll keep you motivated and wanting to come back for more. For those of you who are looking for an edge on your opponents, there are sports nutrition supplements like Six Star’s Pre-Workout Explosion that offer extreme energy and focus with a scientifically researched dose of caffeine.
Since ice time usually comes at a premium, you’ll want to arrive early and give yourself enough time (at least 10 to 15 minutes) to do dynamic stretches at the rink before getting dressed. Then make sure you’re dressed and ready to go as soon as the Zamboni’s off the ice.
Drill 1: On-Ice Warm-Up Skating Drill (5 Minutes)
After taking a few laps around the ice and loosening up, it’s time to get going. Set aside 5 minutes for you (and your teammates practicing with you) to do this “Half Ice All Out” skating and warm-up drill. Start in one of the corners and skate backwards down the wall. Once you’re in between the blue line and redline, skate forward to the far dot in the neutral zone and then do a hard turn around that dot. Then skate backward toward the bottom of the defensive zone circle (your back facing the glass) and then transition to skating forward. Complete the rest of the circle skating forward, go behind the net, and then return to the start line.
When doing this drill, and all of the drills, it’s important to skate hard and go as close to game speed as you can. This drill will improve your ability to switch from skating forward to backwards and backwards to forward in game situations. It’ll also get your heart rate up and ready for the next drill.
Drill 2: Double Pass Transition Drill (10 Minutes)
The Double Pass Transition Drill is ideal if you’re practicing with four skaters and a goalie and only have half the ice to work with. Separate yourself into groups of two and then skate just inside the red line. Player one will kick the drill off by taking three hard strides off the wall and then transitioning to skating backwards to receive a pass from the player who was closest to him or her. Player 1 passes the puck back to the player who passed it to him or her and then will transition to skating forward to receive a pass from one of the players in the other line on the opposite side of the rink. Player 1 will pass the puck back again and then skate as fast as he or she can as they cross over to the blue line, out to the red line, and then call a pass from the line where Player 1 started. Player 1 will then skate in with the puck and take a shot on the goalie. After that, Player 2, on the opposite side from where Player 1 started, will do the same exact thing that Player 1 just did. It’s important for the players receiving the passes to call for them, and also to keep his or her feet moving through the neutral zone. You can also do a variation of this drill by passing to yourself off the boards and then coming in and shooting on an empty net, as well.
Drill 3: 1 On 1 – Inside/Outside Gap Drill (10 Minutes)
This 1 On 1 – Inside/Outside Gap Drill requires at least 2 players who will be going head-to-head. The defensive player will be working on his or her gap control with the player who is skating in on him or her. This drill can be done either with or without a goalie.
Using half the ice, the forward, who will start off near the faceoff circle in the middle of the ice, will dump the puck in. The defenseman will retrieve the puck and break out the forward. The forward will skate up the ice and out of the zone, heading toward the red line. Then the forward will turn back around and come in on the defenseman for a 1 on 1. The defenseman must close the gap and play the 1 on 1 tight, as the forward will do his or her best to get a quality shot off on the goalie.
Switch up so both players have the opportunity to defend and work on gap control, as well as trying to stick handle and skate around the defenseman in order to score on the goalie when they’re on the offensive side of the puck. Take quick breaks during this ten-minute drill to rest and then get back out there.
Drill 4: 1v2 Forecheck Drill (10 Minutes)
Three players are needed for this 1v2 Forecheck Drill. The offensive player with the puck (Player #1) will skate behind the net and try to make his or her way out of the zone while the two defenders will work together to angle, defend, and gain possession. On a turnover, the defenders will transition to offense and then attack 2v1 on net trying to generate a scoring chance.
After this sequence, take a quick break and switch up the positions that each player plays. For example, Player #1 who was trying to break out of the zone from behind the net will then join one of the defenders, while a defender will switch and take Player #1’s previous position – trying to skate the puck out of the zone on his or her own. Feel free to take breaks as needed during this drill.
Drill 5: Continuous 2 on 2 Drill (15 Minutes)
If you have ten friends with you – 8 skaters and 2 goalies – you can use the full sheet of ice for this Continuous 2 on 2 Hockey Drill. There are a few defensive minded key points to this drill that you’ll want to focus on. The first is gap control. The defense shouldn’t give up the blue line to the oncoming attackers because it’s a 2 on 2. Then down low in the defensive zone, the duo playing defense should play tight man on man and not get beat back to the front of the net. The defensive pairing should also prioritize limiting the forwards’ time and space. Offensively, the forwards need to make smart plays such as chipping the puck in deep and going after it instead of forcing a play at the blue line and turning the puck over. Down low in the offensive zone, the forwards need to maintain possession of the puck and be patient to limit turnovers.
The drill begins with two forwards in one zone at the hash marks and the puck behind the net. The defensive duo should start inline with the dots at center ice. When it’s time to start the drill, one forward should swing behind the net and pick up the puck as the other swings in front of the net. Then the two forwards will go on the attack, heading into the offensive zone, looking to score. The defensive pairing will do their best to take the puck away and start back the other way, going on the offensive themselves with the previous forwards now playing defense. After this back and forth, the four skaters who were just on the ice can switch out with the four players who have been waiting their turn. Depending on how many skaters and goalies are available, you can also cut this drill in half numbers-wise and do it with 4 skaters, 1 goalie, and use half the ice. Take short breaks, as needed.
Drill 6: 6 Pass Shoot Drill (10 Minutes)
The 6 Pass Shooting Drill is designed help you with your one touch pass skills and to get you shooting in stride. The drill also works on other fundamentals such as pivots, handling the puck backwards, creating passing angles, and receiving and shooting from high in the zone.
This half ice drill can be done with two or three skaters and a goalie (or an empty net). There are 6 passes involved with each repetition before the shot must be taken exactly on the 6th pass – not before or after. Players should keep their feet moving (even when they shoot), give a target to receive a pass, and call for the puck when they want their teammate to pass it to them.
After Practice Cool Down
At the end of your 60-minute practice session, make sure that you’re properly hydrated and do some static stretching. Since hockey has an intense amount of repeated postures and positions that often lead to muscle tightness, a well-structured strength and conditioning program will help you stay healthy. For those of you looking to build muscle and increase strength, while also supporting your recovery, there are sports nutrition options available such as Six Star 100% Whey Protein Plus. This is the muscle and strength building nutrition that the pros trust post-workout, which you can add to your regimen too.