Forward Specific Drills Aid In Development Of All Young Players

By: 
Joe Doyle

Small area games, activities or drills that replicate game situations and target skills specific to a position (forward or defenseman) can be an effective way to use your ice time and develop fundamental skills. Position specific drills become more and more common as a player gets older – typically in the Bantam age group on up.

It is very important at younger ages (Mites, Squirts and Peewees) that ALL players, regardless of what position they play in games, receive repetitions in practice at both forward and defense. This will help with their overall understanding of the game. The fact is that we don’t know long-term whether an 11 or 12-year-old player is ultimately going to be a forward or defenseman, so it is in the interest of his or her overall development that he or she  get reps in practice at both positions.

Below are some ‘Forward Specific Drills’ that can be done on half a sheet and accommodate 24 players (eight per station) while keeping the activity level and reps high. These drills are designed for 14U, 16U and 18U players but can also be introduced at 10U and 12U.

If a coach has 30 minutes with the forwards he can do six minutes of the warm-up drill followed by the three stations at eight minutes each. The intent is to have all these drills going at the same time in one half of the ice (defenseman on other end of the ice) with more than half the players active at all times in each of their stations.

 

Warm Up: 2-on-1 Keep Away in confined area

Set Up: Six players in each of four zones shown. Play 2-on-1 keep away in small area. Go for 30-40 seconds and then switch partners.
Purpose: This drill works on puck support, moving to open space, puck protection, passing lanes, deception, puck pursuit and active sticks.

 

Station 1: Tips

Age Level: 10U and Up
Activity/Purpose: Players pair up about 30 feet apart. Os stand just off wall facing Xs in a good tripod position. Xs shoot wrist shots to both sides of Os. Os redirect puck and then turn immediately to boards and collect puck and shoot it back at boards. Shoot 10 pucks and then switch with partner. Simulates good net front screen position, redirecting pucks, and banging home rebounds.

 

Station 2: Plante Drive Net Jam

Age Level: 10U and Up
Activity/Purpose: Players skate around tire and force way to front of net to jam puck on goalie or wrap to far post. Coach provides a little resistance at the tire.

 

Station 3: Rauschy Forehand-Only Drill

Age Level: 10U and Up
Activity/Purpose: Players carry the puck at top speed around cones, always keeping it on their forehand. This drill forces players to surround the puck and open hips/shoulders. After the last cone attack the net and shoot a hard wrister. Alternate sides and keep two to three players moving at once.
Variation: Tight 360 turns on cones, backwards between cones 1 & 2, player stays in front of net after shot for screen/rebound.

 

These small area activities work not only on a player’s skills but also on team concepts and hockey sense/awareness. Putting players in scenarios during practice that replicate game situations is hugely beneficial for their development. Doing them in smaller areas increases the repetitions as well as the compete-level and enjoyment of the players.

 

ILLUSTRATIONS by USA Hockey

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