5 Off-Ice Hockey Drills for Kids

Possession Count-Up

This drill shifts the focus from individual possession to maintaining possession as a team. Split the grid that was utilized for "Keep Away, Take Away" into two evenly spaced halves. Give each team—composed of five players each—a single ball and restrict each team to one half of the grid. Have each team begin to pass to one another to warm up. 

After a minute or two, the instructor will send one player from one team to serve as a single defender against the five players from the other team. As soon as the defender enters the neighboring zone, the instructor will begin counting to five. 

If the offensive team keeps the ball away from the defender for five seconds, the instructor will send a second defender. If the five offensive players maintain possession for another five seconds, the instructor will send a third defender. The game continues until the defending team successfully gains control of the ball. After that happens, the game resets and the roles and responsibilities of each team are reversed (offense to defense, defense to offense). 

Players are now asked to decide between stick handling (or carrying) and passing to teammates while pressured by defenders. The offensive team should prioritize simple and sound decision-making, creative movement off the ball and communication. If defenders don't pressure players in possession, the offensive team shouldn't feel obliged to move the ball to a teammate. 

However, if one or more defenders pursue an offensive player, that player should relieve the pressure by finding available teammates. The offensive team should try to create easy passes by having players without the ball move to available space. They should also continue interchanging positions and space off the ball to become more unpredictable for the other team to defend. 

Lastly, the offensive team should make it a point to communicate with one another. If players off the ball identify and alert players in possession to the movement and positioning of the defenders, the offensive team stands a better chance at keeping the ball and bringing more opposing players into their grid. 

3-on-2 to 2-on-1

Much like the previous drill, players are put into situations where they possess the ball against odd-man situations, but this drill also includes scoring. In a grid that is similar in size to the space utilized in "Keep Away, Take Away," place one net at each end of the grid and select one goalie for each net. Split the rest of the players into two even groups and have each group start in opposite corners of the grid. 

The instructor will signal for one group to initially begin the drill as the offensive team; that group will bring out three players and attack the opposite net. The other line will then initially serve as the defensive team and send out two defenders. 

As soon as the offensive team scores, or if the defensive team gains possession, the 3-on-2 then shifts into a 2-on-1 toward the opposite net. The two defenders transition and become attackers, and one former attacker remains on the floor and retreats into a defensive role. The drill resets after the 2-on-1 situation concludes with a goal or a defensive stop. 

While offensive players are still working to keep possession of the ball, they are now looking to convert possession into goals. Players should work together to create the best possible scoring opportunity. With the offensive team always having a one-man advantage, players should be creative and unselfish when trying to find open teammates. 

5-Ball Breakaway Challenge

This drill provides players with the opportunity to attack and finish in one-on-one breakaway situations. With one net and one goalie at each end, split the grid used for "3-on-2 to 2-on-1" in half and have each team line up off to the side of the floor on either side of the halfway line. 

Place five balls a few steps inside the halfway line on each side. As soon as the instructor begins the drill, the first player from each line will collect one ball from the opposite side and break in on the opposing team's goalie. If the player successfully scores, they leave the ball in the net and the second player collects a second ball and attacks the net. 

If the player is unable to score, they have to retrieve the ball, return it to its original starting place, and head to the end of their team's line. If a player misses, the new attacker cannot collect a new ball until their teammate has returned the ball to its initial starting place. The game ends as soon as one team converts and scores all five of their balls. 

Players should combine creativity and hustle in this drill. In one-on-one situations, offensive players should find new and unique ways to score. However, if they are unable to score, players should return the ball as soon as they can to allow their teammate to enter the grid. 

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