Half Ice Puck Skills & Activities #1

This practice emphasizes puck skills and awareness using the Finnish Skills Series and a selection of activities your players will enjoy. Be sure to select 10 or 12 skills appropriate for the age and skill level of your team. The practice outline is as follows:

  1. Finnish Skills Series (20 minutes)
  2. Forwards / Backwards Chase (5 minutes)
  3. Chase the Rabbit (5 minutes)
  4. Puck Tag (7 minutes)
  5. King of the Hill (7 minutes)
  6. Finders Keepers (7 minutes)
  7. Finders Keepers in Teams (7 minutes)
Half Ice Finnish Series Setup - Skill Development Hockey Drill

This is a half ice skill development setup where you can run as many skill variations as you want depending on the skill level of your players. This setup allows you to use the half ice in a way that allows players to get a lot of repetitions. The animation shows an example of the following four skills:

  1. Mohawk Pivots - open hips towards the tire, heels together.
  2. Backwards Underhandling - cradle the puck smoothly as you skate backwards around the tires, the less stickhandling the better.
  3. Escapes - approach the tire forwards, use a 360 degree turn away from the tire, close the blade of the stick to control puck.
  4. Long Reaches - skate in a straight line between tires and use long reach to move puck outside each tire.
Length of Time: 
20 minutes
Coach's Notes: 
  • Inside edges with puck
  • Outside edges with puck
  • Tight control turns with puck protection
  • Pivots facing one direction
  • Pivots facing the opposite direction
  • Inside / outside pivoting
  • Mohawk turns
  • Forehand only puck control
  • Expansion of reach (long reach)
  • Single shift - fake left pull right
  • Single shift - fake right pull left
Forwards / Backwards Chase Puck Handling Hockey Drill

This drill allows players to work on a coupl eof key fundamentals. First, in order to do this drill properly the players must do this with their head up and an awareness of their surroundings. Second, they have to work on backward skating and agility.

Mark off the boundaries using cones or borders. In most cases this activity works best in either the offense/defensive zone (from the blue line to the end boards). Have your players split up into pairs with one puck for each pair. One player in each pair will start with the puck facing their partner who is also facing them about 3 stick lengths away. On the whistle the player without the puck will skate backwards anywhere they want to go in the zone. The player with the puck will skate forward and try to stay in front of them while maintaining control of the puck. Both players will have to pay attention to their surroundings because everyone is doing this at the same time. The players going backwards are trying to lose the player with the puck by changing directions and speeds.

Allow players to go for 45 seconds to 1 minute then blow the whistle. The players can then switch roles, take a 15 second break, and then start a new round.

Length of Time: 
5 minutes
Chase the Rabbit - Hockey Stickhandling Activity

This activity works on puck control, puck skills, awareness, agility, and skating. Players will have to have awareness and do it with their head up or they will not be successful.

This drill is best used on one end of the ice from the blue line to the end boards. Have the players get into pairs with one puck for each pair. The player without the puck will be facing forwards, the player with the puck will be 3-4 stick lengths behind them and facing the same way. On the whistle the player without the puck will skate forwards and will skate all over the zone wherever they want. The player with the puck is trying to stay within the 4 stick lenghs behind them while maintaining control of the puck. The player without the puck should be using cross-overs, control turns, stops and starts, and changing of speed to make it challenging for the player with the puck to keep up with them.

To make it more challenging you can add cones, tires, gloves, and other toys into the zone that players have to navigate while maintaining puck control.

Length of Time: 
5 minutes
Puck Tag - Hockey Stickhandling and Awareness Game

This game is guaranteed to be loved by your players. It may involve some participation of your coaches but players can also be used as the "taggers". The game forces players to maintain puck control while having to be aware of what is going on around them.

Set up the game in either end of the ice from the blue line to the end boards, or in the neutral zone depending on your situation. Each player will start with a puck. Designate 2 or 3 players or coaches to be the "taggers". On the whistle players will skate around the zone while maintaining control of their puck and trying to not get touched by a "tagger". If a player gets tagged they must hold their stick in their top hand with the puck touching the blade of their stick and the bottom hand high up in the air and their feet spread to shoulder width apart. They cannot join the game again until another player attacks thir triangle by stickhandling through their legs or under their stick (triangle created by stickblade and feet). The goal for the "taggers" is to try and get all the players "frozen" at the same time.

Length of Time: 
7 minutes

This is a fun drill to start or end practice with that is great for the U6 age levels all the way to the NHL. Players love this drill! It is also known as "King of the Ring" if you only use circles, or it is also known as "Knockout." If you have more than 6 players you can start by increasing the boundaries to include the entire neutral zone. Once there are 6 players remaining then you can narrow the boundaries down to the circle.


Every player will have a puck to start and on the whistle players will skate around controlling the puck. The object of the game is to maintain control of your puck and be the last player to have control of your puck. As players skate around they will also try to knock other players pucks away. If you get your puck knocked away then you have to leave the playing area. The last player with control of their puck WINS!

Watch the Colorado Avalanche perform this fun exercise below:

If you need further proof that this drill is great for all levels then watch this video of the Pittsburgh Penguins playing King of the Hill with the whole team in the neutral zone. This was during the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they won in 2017!

Length of Time: 
7 minutes
Finders Keepers - Puck Protection Drill

This drill has players working on puck protection and awareness. This is a good activity to use after working on puck skills and fundamentals so players can work on these skills in a competitive environment.

Depending on the size of your team you can use the neutral zone of one end from the blue line to the end boards. You will need half as many pucks as you have players. For example if we have 12 players then we will use 6 pucks. On the whistle the coach will shoot the pucks into the zone. The objective for the players is to find a puck and maintain puck possession. The coach will allow the players to go for 45 seconds to 1 minute. On the whistle the players must stop where they are. The coach can decide a consequense for the players that do not have a puck such as push-ups or skating.

Players that have the most success will be playing with their head up and protecting the puck towards open ice. They will also use awareness to look for opporunities to steal pucks from other players.

Length of Time: 
7 minutes
Finders Keepers (Teams) - Passing and Puck Control Drill

This drill is great for working on awaness and puck support. It is a variation of the original "Finders Keepers" drill but now players are divided up into two teams. Players will need to communicate, protect the puck, support the puck, and pass in order to be successful.

To set up the drill divide the players into 2 teams and use an odd number of pucks and less than half as many players. For example, if you have two teams of 7 players then use 7 pucks. If you have two teams of 6 players then use 5 pucks. You can play in one end from the blue line down, half-ice, or even full ice depending on the amount of players.

Each team will start on the wall or on the end line. The coach will blow the whistle and shoot the pucks into play. The players will work in their teams to possess as many pucks as possible. The coach will decide on a length of time to play and then blow the whistle. On the whistle all the players must stop. The team that is in posession of the most pucks wins that round.

Players need to communicate and have good awareness. When they have the puck they need to be looking to make a pass to a teammate that will not have pressure when they recieve it. When they do not have the puck they can work with teammates to surround the puck or force passes into crowded areas.

Length of Time: 
7 minutes