Developing hockey sense is as important as learning how to skate or stickhandle. Taking a large percentage of your practice time to create an environment that puts your players in situations where they have to make good, sound hockey decisions over and over again is the only way to allow the critical skill of decision making to take place.
Here are several small area games that will help players “train the brain” in a fun and competitive environment.
Age Level: For players of all ages
Purpose: Focuses on stick handling, puck possession, body contact and keeping your head up while controlling the puck.
Game: Split your group into two teams and have them play in a designated area. The fewer the players per team the smaller the area.
One team has pucks, the other does not. On the whistle the non-puck carrying team must take the pucks away from players on the team and put the pucks over a line or in a net.
The coach counts to see how long it takes the non-puck carrying team to remove all the pucks from the puck carrying team. The roles are then reversed and time is kept again. The team with the quickest time wins the game.
The goal is to keep control of your puck as long as you can. Once your puck is lost you must help your teammates by supporting and passing.
Breakout Vs. Forecheck Game
Age Level: For Squirts and up
Purpose: This game works on breakouts, transition, man-on-man defensive concepts, puck possession and support and play off the puck. With the progression you can add a forechecking concept.
Game: Split your group into two teams. Also split the zone into defensive and offensive halves.
Throw a puck into play and on every transition in the defensive half the two offensive players must go back across the center line and the two defenders must make at least one pass in their half before they can attack the offensive zone. This forces the defenders to make a good breakout play without pressure in order to create a scoring chance.
On every transition the defenders must make at least one pass and the offensive players must retreat to their half to wait for the attack of the opposing two players.
Progression: After the players understand the concept of the game and the purpose of a good breakout, allow one of the two original offensive players to stay in their offensive half and forecheck the puck. This will force the two defenders to support and execute a clean breakout play. If they do it well they should get an odd-man rush into the offensive half. If the forechecking player gains control then his teammate can come back into the offensive half for support.
1v1/2v1 Possession Low Game
Ages: For Squirts and up
Purpose: This game works on puck possession, body contact, communication, support, defensive concepts and transition from 1-on-1 to 2-on-1, and offensive concepts of cycling and getting to the net front.
Game: Form two lines. The first player in the line on one side of the coach is on offense and the first player from the other line is on defense. The coach lets the 1-on-1 play out for about 5 seconds. If the offensive player has done a good job of puck possession the coach sends in the second player from the offensive line and they now play 2-on-1 trying to work the puck to the net for a scoring chance.
Let this play out until a goal is scored or the defender gets the puck to the coach or about 20 seconds.
If it goes the 20 seconds then the coach blows the whistle and the three players that are in the drill sprint to the near blue line and the coach starts over by putting the puck in the other corner and playing 1-on-1 to 2-on-1.