Head Up Scan The Ice Warm-Up  diagram

The Head-Up Scan The Ice Warm-Up from Dwayne Blais of the NSDA is a simple yet highly effective warm-up drill that is great for all age levels. The goal of this warm-up activity is to get players in the habit of keeping their head up while they stickhandle so they can look for open ice and evade obstacles. 


  • Can be set up to be full-ice (like it is shown in the video) or half-ice.
  • On the whistle, all players skate in the same direction.
  • On the next whistle, players check their shoulders and turn to go in the opposite direction.
  • Coaches can add obstacles (cones, sticks, tires) that players must stickhandle around, and coaches can also be obstacles (like shown in the video).

Coaching Points

  • Players should practice keeping their head up!
  • Players must shoulder check and look over their shoulder to determine where the open ice is.
  • Coaches should encourage players to keep their head up as much as possible during practice. Players can't keep their head up in the game if they do not learn the skill at practice!


  • Can be full ice, half ice, or in zone setup.
  • The coach can blow the whistle to change directions every 10 - 20 seconds for younger age groups or every 3 - 5 seconds for higher-skilled groups.
  • Can add obstacles and / or defenders that players need to be aware of and stickhandle around.

Half Ice Example

Head Up Scan The Ice Warm-Up Half Ice Example

Here is a half-ice example of how this warm-up drill could be setup.

The half-ice setup is helpful for teams that are splitting the ice or if a coach would like to condense the amount of space their team is using for the warm-up so the ice is more crowded, which would force the players to make quicker decisions.

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