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Ice hockey is one of the most popular winter sports in the world. Since it is played on an ice rink, players must have excellent skating skills in order to excel at the sport, and the best way to improve ice skating skills is through practice. Follow these simple hockey drills on a regular basis, and players will be skating loops around the competition.
Around the Cones
Some of these hockey drills are performed without pucks or sticks so that players can focus entirely on their skating skills. One of the simplest ice hockey drills to improve skating skills is to set up a number of orange plastic cones on the ice and have players skate around these cones.
Set up two identical courses on either side of the ice, with cones at each of the lines in a staggered pattern. Make sure to time players as they complete the course, so that their progress over the course of the season can be charted. After the players have completed the course forwards, make sure to reverse the direction and have them skate it backwards as well.
By having two courses this drill can be performed as a mini-competition or relay race. Divide the team into two groups, and have each group line up at the start of one of the courses. At the sound of the coach’s whistle, the player at the front of the line must skate to the end of the course and back as quickly as they can. Once they pass the final cone, the next player in the line starts. The first team to have all their players complete the course wins.
Whole Lotta Pucks
Next, try incorporating some pucks and sticks into the hockey drills as a means of simulating game play. For this drill set out a large number of pucks at center ice. Divide the team into two groups, and have each group start on the boards at the right side of the net.
At the sound of the coach’s whistle, the first player from each group skates to center ice, picks up a puck with their stick, and skates towards the net on the opposite side of the ice. After they have taken the shot, the next player in line performs the drill. Play continues until all the pucks have been shot.
Goalies are optional during this drill. If they are being used, the team with the most goals after all the pucks have been shot is the winner. For this drill, speed and agility should be emphasized, with shooting accuracy also being a factor.
Finally, here’s a drill called “Puck Chase” that’s a fun way to improve skating skills, especially taking quick corners. To set up this drill, just the area between the blue line and the net. Set up three cones on both sides of the net and one puck at the center of the net.
Divide the team into groups of two, and have each team stand in either corner behind the net. At the sound of the whistle, the first player from each team takes off, skating around each cone in a race to the puck at the net. The first player to reach the puck takes the shot while the player who doesn’t reach the puck must sprint to the other side of the boards and back.
This is a great drill to promote aggression in the offensive zone, as well as taking sharp corners when skating quickly.