Yesterday I wrote a little bit about the importance of conditioning, and the mental advantage of knowing you put in the work necessary to be prepared for that double or triple overtime game. Today I had planned on drawing up a list of conditioning drills I was put through over the years, but I had a better idea: instead of torturing minor hockey players by sharing those with coaches who happen to read this site, why not share the greatest drill of all-time and reward them? (Psst, coaches – it’s still tiring as hell.)


* A team with functioning brain cells. (A huge number of coaches just slumped their shoulders, disappointed.)

I mean, aside from a full roster and a few pucks, that’s pretty much it.


* Cardio: it requires three full lengths of the ice for a couple of the players involved, and doesn’t allow any time for dilly-dallying.

* Reps: you get to practice odd-man rush situations, while the d-man work on defending them.

* Fun: odd-man rushes are always a great time.

* Cohesion: it’s easy to set up so you always go with your linemates.

You don’t have to, but our coach used to run the drill as a competition – the forwards vs. the D. The forwards had seven minutes to score 10 goals. If we made it, the D did extra conditioning alone. If we didn’t, we on the hook for the added work.

Below is the picture of where everyone starts. I’ll explain it thoroughly below.

The coach (on the right of your screen) fires a pass up to either of the grey forwards (coloured jerseys aren’t necessary, but are helpful). The second the puck hits that player’s stick, the forward who got the pass and his linemate head down on a MAX ONE PASS 2-on-0. If you’re a coach and you have any sort of 2-on-0 that isn’t max one pass, you’re kind of a jerk and your goalie hates you.

After one shot (unless a quick, available rebound kicks out to you – the point is, keep moving), those two forwards swing low, and get a second puck from that same coach.

A d-man jumps out, skates up, pivots back, and plays the full-ice 2-on-1.

They skate the length of the ice, make a play, and hopefully score (goooo forwards!), then turn up ice again. There’s no playing the rebound on that part.

The grey line’s third member, usually the center, jumps out of the corner to join the duo who has already had two rushes, and they head back up the ice. Two defenders jump out, the forwards get a pass from the other coach, and the rush is on.

After that attempt, the center (or whoever jumped out as the third man for the previous rush) throws on the brakes, gets a pass from the coach on the right, and has a full, length of the ice breakaway.

Once he hits center, the coach on the right hits one of the red forwards with a pass, and the whole thing starts over again.

The idea is to replicate the time and energy output it takes to go through one shift, while working on creativity and skills (it probably takes 30 seconds to run through per line).

* On the 2-on-0, you should score, or get robbed.

* The most important thing on the 2-on-1′s is getting a shot (don’t be that guy trying to thread a back-door tap-in when it’s down to just you and the goalie, unless the d-man and goalie are badly misplaying the rush).

* On the 3-on-2, the most important thing is the zone entry and the mid-lane drive. Get that puck wide, and have the guy in the middle driving the far post. If the d-man cuts off the puck carrier before the blue line, he can chip it past him (NO TURNOVER HERE), and that middle skater can pick it up, and play the now-2-on-1.

* And the breakaway, well, that’s a free-for-all.

It’s a simple and tidy drill (though if you do it with younger kids, there’s a lot of “hey, you’re up” prompting, and a few 3-on-0′s while the d-men nap), but the players love it. Hell, they love most “flow” drills. There’s an advanced version that involves the d-men getting some shots too, but we’ll just ignore that for today.

It’s the off-season, so without Systems Analyst posts to make, I think I’ll be doing a few more drill-based posts. If you have something in particular you’d like a drill for, run it by me. I’ve got a fairly thick portfolio.

Comments (14)

  1. So what happens to the 1st Defenseman after the 2-v-1 rush? Just back in line? Are you alternating sides on which D line jumps out for the 2-v-1?

  2. Any defensive zone breakout drills?

  3. This is very similar to a drill they had us running at Heartland Hockey camp a few weeks ago (we only had half ice to do it with due to # of players) and yeah, it’s fun. And exhausting. :)

  4. How do you build a drill like this?

    By that I mean, how do you work up to the full drill without losing your players. You can’t diagram the whole thing and then say go. Don’t you have to roll it out in stages until everyone gets it?

    • depends on the year, obviously as well as time of the season. I wouldn’t try this with a 1st year Mite team, especially at the beginning of the season. Squirts, depending on the level, could probably understand and execute this by midseason.

      • It’s really not all that complex, as no particular player has to do like, nine things. Guys just have to remember their part – in reference to your first question, yeah – that d-man jumps out, plays his rush, hops back in line. Alternating sides would be ideal, but guys just need to communicate, cause it doesn’t matter – “You or me? Me? Got it.”

  5. I used to run a variation of this with my teams except I had the forwards all coming out of 1 corner and the D at the Red. F1 leaves for full length Breakaway*Shot*. Gets pass from Coach heading other way for 1v1*Shot*. F2 passes/ cross and drops for F1 and 2v1 the other way*Shot*. Coach pass to F1 or F2 for 2v2*Shot*. F3 out for 3v1*Shot*. Coach pass to F, 3v2 other way. F1 starts over. (You can also add in D shot on final 3v2 with Battle/ Screen as 3v1 D can follow up).

    I found this variation worked well those practices where I was by myself.

    And ya, Goalies hate it. lol

  6. over complicated drill….

    • You have to be kidding right? It’s quite simple. The starting forward get a 2 on 0, 2 on 1 and then a 3 on 2. The last forward gets a breakaway after the 3 on 2.


  7. Good stuff. How about more drills for forwards to time themselves on the regroup? I’m thinking beer leaguers here where there’s a vast difference in speeds and one guy’s gotta save more ice than another. Learning timing is hard.

  8. Care to map out a few pregame warmup drills? I’m guessing most rec teams don’t rent a sheet of ice for an hour for drills, or get together much at all outside of their games for practice. Those 6-10 minutes before a game might be all the tune up time they have. So I vote for a post with two to three half sheet drills.

    • You can do the “St. Louis drill” (Skaters in both corners, one leaves without a puck and after skating around the in zone dots he receives a pass from the other corner and shoots, not deke, on the goalie. After passer hits the first skater, he leaves his corner and the joy continues).

      In zone breakout into 3v2. Set up the lines on the center ice red line, first line dumps puck in on 2 defensemen, all players go to their positions (maybe a D to D pass) break it out, forwards regroup in neutral zone, than go in on the defense 3 v 2.

      Simple drills for rec league.

      • weird, what you call the “st.louis” drill we called the “montreal” drill growing up…and i grew up in st.louis!

  9. I ran this drill in my practice last night with a fairly advanced bantam team. The first run was a little shaky but after that it turned out to be an awesome drill. The pressure is on that last guy on the breakaway so he has to skate hard. The kids loved it. Great drill and not as complicated as it seems.

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