Read below to view 36 fundamental skills that can be practiced with 5 cones on a small section of ice. Each skill works on a variety of edgework and puckhandling skills that can be applied in game situations.
In the two videos below, Coach Ben Eaves demonstrates a wide variety of fundamental skills that were practiced in the beginning of his professional practices in Finland. This series was implemented by U8 teams all the way to their professional levels. Repetitive practice of these skills can help with muscle memory so they can be applied in practices and games. As time goes on, work on performing the skills with your head up, and then apply more speed.
As you can see, each setup can be made to be as simple or as complex as you would like!
Skills series is perfect for
- Tryouts or Beginning of a Season: See where each player stands on a variety of edgework, puck control and pivoting skills. You will find areas that players will need improvement on, and you can practice these skills each and every practice.
- Start of Practice: Great warmup at the beginning of any practice to get hands and edges warmed up.
- As a Station: Coaches can section off a small area of the ice to use this as a station during practice while other stations are in progress.
- Skill Development: This series can be used for individual skill sessions. Coaches can focus on a few particular skills and then apply them to different drills and small area games later in practice.
- Open Ice Time: Players can work on these skills alone on the ice (or off the ice with rollerblades).
Fundamental skills are critical for beginners and elite players to constantly work on. View the 36 unique skills below!
Finnish Skills Series Video # 1: Skills 1 - 26
Finnish Skills Series Video # 2: Skills 27 - 36
As players improve and get comfortable with each skill it is important to increase speed and work on keeping their head up. We would suggest to select 5 or 6 exercises to create a skills series. We have listed potential setups and variations below to allow you to customize the skills series for the age and skill level you are working with.
Skills Series Setups
- 5 Cones: You can use 5 cones, tires or pucks (like the video demonstrations) and you can place them anywhere on the ice. This will allow you to use a tiny bit of ice and work on a large variety of skills. Get the whole team going through the cones at once so it forces them to be aware of other players and keep their head up.
- Half Ice Side by Side Skills Series (shown in video below): As you can see, you can set this up to be an individual station, or you can have two sides running at once.
- Variations with this setup: you can make it a race, or you can count goals scored by each side, or you can add a bunch of pucks in the corner so after a shot is taken, the player needs to dig up a puck from the corner, get their head up and pass it to the next player in line!
- IHS Members Only: Half Ice Finnish Skills Series with One Net. This setup allows you to is include a pass to start the drill and a shot to end the drill. View
- IHS Members Only: Half Ice Finnish Series Setup. A half-ice setup that allows for space to generate speed and get a shot on net. View
Skill Series Variations
- Down and Back: You can require players to go through the cones once or you can require them to go down and back for one set.
- Add Additional Obstacles: Add different obstacles or elements that players need to avoid as they practice these skills. For example, you may add a stick that they need to jump over or chairs that they stickhandle through. The only limit is your creativity!
- End With a Shot on Net: Add a net (and a goalie if available) at the end of the cones to allow the player to take a shot at the end of the series. Players can come out of the cones and work on two valuable shooting skills:
- Add a Passing Element: To keep players in line paying attention, require players that are going through the skills series to communicate and pass to the player next in line. The pass can start the next player in line or the player in line can pass back to the player going through the cones.
- Incorporate Races: Add team or individual races to naturally bring up the speed and intensity between two groups of players.
- Add Scoring Challenge: Line up two sets of cones and require a team to go through the skills series and shoot on a goaltender. The first team to score 5 goals wins!
- Change Spacing Between Cones: Change up the spacing between the cones or tires. This will allow a player to work on practicing their acceleration out of a move, and generate speed in between cones. You can also stagger the cones so players are working on their horizontal movement up the ice and not just north & south movement.
- Add Defending Players With Active Stick: You can add players at each cone and use an active stick to try to knock the puck away. You can have the defense start with turning their stick upside down to make it easier for the forwards.
- Add Music!!!: It is easy to bring the music anywhere today. Adding high energy and high tempo music to practice will get players skating and practicing with an extra jump in their step. Especially when going through a skills series like this. Try it!
Fundamental skills are critical for beginners and elite players to constantly work on. Many players will struggle with these skills at the beginning, but if you incorporate these into each practice (even as a short warm-up), you will be blown away at their improvement as time goes on. Each of these critical skills will become second nature to the players as they utilize them in practice and eventually, game situations.