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.)

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

* 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.

WHAT IT ACCOMPLISHES

* 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.