10 Drills to Help Your Defensemen Simulate Game Situations

Hockey Defensive Skills Series

IHS recently worked with Rob Sedia of New Edge Hockey Development Academy to film a series of drills specifically for defensemen. The focus of this drill series is to simulate movements and situations that help defensemen dial in the details that can be transferred into game play. Building confidence with puck handling, puck retrievals and constantly surveying the ice are all important elements you will find throughout the series.

What we love about these drills:

  • They work on detailed skills that often are overlooked in full team practices
  • They help defenseman survey the ice (work on body positioning and shoulder checks)
  • They help build confidence in movements and puck handling
  • They are simple set-ups (can all be done on ½ sheet of ice or less)
  • Most of them have multiple progressions

Rob spoke on the importance of working with defensemen separately thought the season:

“Working separately with your D core will pay huge dividends come game time. Individual and tactical defense-specific development are critical components in developing defensemen at all levels. I find it odd that NHL teams work with their defensemen (separately) on position-specific skating, individual skills, tactical skills, and partner work yet many/most youth/minor teams spend almost an entire practice on a full team and special teams concepts.

This series was designed for your defensemen to achieve a high frequency of relevant repetitions per drill. The repetitions are relevant because they simulate game situations and common defensemen movements and plays. This allows them to dial in on the details and be better prepared when these exact things happen in a game. Defensemen need to be exceptional surveyors on the ice.”

You can view the drill videos below and we highly recommend visiting the individual drill pages to see the full description and Rob’s coaching points. Keep in mind that we recommend the full series for higher-level U12 and older.

Drill 1 - NEHDA 2 Puck

NEHDA 2 Puck Description: This simple setup has 2 progressions and allows your defensemen to work on passing, edgework, communication, deception, and keeping their toe-caps facing up ice. View full drill details.

Drill 2 - NEHDA 3 Puck

NEHDA 3 Puck Description: This drill has 3 progressions and puts an emphasis on quality passing, footwork, puck control along the blue line, and maintaining a consistent gap with your teammate. View full drill details.

Drill 3 - Blue Line Shuffles

Blue Line Shuffles Description: This is a great drill with 3 progressions that should help your defenseman to build confidence when navigating the blue line laterally. View full drill details.

Drill 4 - NEHDA Continuous Retrieval Outlet

NEHDA Continuous Retrieval Outlet Description: Puck retrievals and shoulder checking (to scan the ice) is an underappreciated skill. This drill works on both and also includes an outlet pass and quick shot. View full drill details.

Drill 5 - Off The Wall Neutral Zone Exchange

Off The Wall Neutral Zone Exchange Description: This is a great drill that works on communication, regroup/transition passing and d to d passing in your defensive end. The second progression adds in escapes and deception. View full drill details.

Drill 6 - Quick Start Continuous Outlet

Quick Start Continuous Outlet: This drill helps defensemen work on retrievals, breakout passing communication and puck protection. The 3 progressions all bring different elements to the same setup. The main coaching point throughout is to have your defensemen get a quick start that puts them into a position that allows them to see as much of the ice as possible. View full drill details.

Drill 7 - Full Back Puck Possession

Full Back Puck Possession: This is a puck protection drill that practices using the net to take away an opponent's attack lane. Footwork and awareness are other key elements that are being worked on in this fun drill. View full drill details.

Drill 8 - Honey Hole

Honey Hole Description: The Honey Hole is a drill that works on shooting around traffic from the point and jumping into open space (The Honey Hole!) with purpose for a scoring chance. View full drill details.

Drill 9 - Mid Pair Wall Retrievals

Mid Pair Wall Retrievals Description: This is a simple setup with 2 progressions that gives your defensemen a ton of reps to work on shoulder checks (scanning the ice) and deceptive puck retrievals. View full drill details.

Drill 10 - NEHDA Defenseman Carousel

NEHDA Defenseman Carousel Description: This drill has a little bit of everything, but mainly focuses on quick passing, timing and awareness. Light pressure can be added to force decisions within the drill. View full drill details.

Many thanks to Rob Sedia for this drill series. Be sure to visit the New Edge Hockey Development Academy contributor page to view all of their content on IHS.


hemmerich on 10/8/2021
Great series, love it!