Drills that focus on players learning to move in various directions. Players' ability to transition from forward to backward, backward to forward, or laterally is an essential skill for players to develop to become more elusive and develop good puck protection skills.
1. Multi-directional skating, carrying the puck, and taking a shot
Drill Description: Set two lines in the corner for all players. Players start skating forward with the puck in a diagonal line. Set two long pads forming a diagonal, parallel channel (illustrated above by black rectangles). As players approach the first pad, they transition from skating forward with the puck to backward. In between the pad channel, they skate backward with the puck until they get to the end of the pads. At that point, they will transition from skating backward to skating forward and then accelerate around the upper arc of the face-off dot using quick feet (overspeed) and finish by driving towards the net and firing a shot. If you have a goalie, great; if not, instruct players with each repetition to hit a specific spot on the net. Making players focus their shots on a particular spot on the net, if you do not have a goalie for practice, forces the shot to have a purpose instead of being an afterthought in the drill.
Note: Start this drill without the puck for several repetitions to focus on the skating, then use the pucks and the shots as the next progression. Have players alternate lines to concentrate on developing edge symmetry from both sides instead of always working their strong sides.
2. Forward to backward to forward transitions
Drill Description: Set up two lines of players below the blue line and set 4 tires or cones on each side from the blue line to the blue line spaced out equally. Have players skate forward to the tire (denoted by the green arrow) and then pivot from forward skating to backward skating (indicated on the graphic by the red semi-circle) around the tire (or cone, whichever you use). Proceed to the next tire and repeat.
After the last tire, players proceed to the goal line and run the drill back the other way. Make sure players forward to back rotate to one side on the way down and the other on the way back (no cheating and just skating on their strong side!). Players must be able to make these rotations and directional skating transitions with equal skill, not just on their strong side.
Note: Add pucks to this as a progression step.
3. Forward to backward to forward transition, giving and receiving a pass, and shooting
Drill Description: Set two single file lines of players below the blue line, and set 1 tire or cone on the blue line. Have the player skate forward (denoted by number 1 on the image) and pass to the coach (or another player or a give-n-go bumper if you have one and denoted by number 2) as they approach the tire. After making the pass, the player will pivot from forward skating to backward skating around the top of the tire (indicated by number 3) and will simultaneously receive a return pass from the coach/player (or a bumper, whichever you use) as they pivot at the top of the tire.
As they transition to forward skating at the bottom of the tire, they will repeat the give-n-go cycle with the coach for 3 or 4 repetitions. On the last repetition, have the player exit (denoted by the number 4 on the graph) towards the boards and skate around a cone and a net (the net forces the player to make a weight shift or edge move with the puck to simulate a one-on-one play) and finish with a shot on net. The next player in line goes as soon as the first exits. Upon completing the drill with a shot, have the players come up the opposite side wall and make their way back in line.
Note: Running this drill in both directions decreases line length and increases the amount of touches players will get.
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