U10 - 3 Station Practice Plan #8

Practice Date: 
Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Practice Length: 60 minutes

Drills: 
Finnish 5 Puck Progression
Length of Time: 
10 minutes
Station Number: 
Warm Up
Corner Tires 3 vs 3 - 1/3 Ice Station
Length of Time: 
15 minutes
Station Number: 
1
Neutral Zone 2 on 2
Length of Time: 
15 minutes
Station Number: 
2
Bourque 3 on 3
Length of Time: 
15 minutes
Station Number: 
3
Three Zones

In this video, Ben Eaves explains a hockey activity and progression that is excellent for every age and skill level. The activity can be done with 3, 4 or 5 players at a time. The video above shows two groups going through the progression. Group # 1 consists of 4, U18 players and Group # 2 is made up of 5, U10 & U12 players.

The major concept of the Finnish 5 Puck is to practice dynamic decision making which will help players learn to play with their head up instead of staring at the puck while they work to memorize a drill. The initial activities are set up to warm up your hands and edges. From there, the activities become more complex as more decisions need to be made within the group. Each Activity encourages players to keep their head up, move to open space, and pass the puck by interacting with their teammates through verbal & non-verbal communication.

If you commit to working on activities like this instead of memorization drills for a portion of each practice, you will marvel at how your team begins to work together. It will look extremely messy at first, but players will get better with each repetition. Moving to open space, and moving the puck will eventually become second nature to the team.

SETUP & ACTIVITY VARIABLES

  • Players: great for 3, 4 or 5 players at a time.
  • Time: You can rotate through groups of players in 45 - 60 second shifts. 5 players can be participating in the activity, while another 5 rest. Blow the whistle and the next 5 jump in.
  • Space: can be set up to be within a zone, or half of a zone (station) or a smaller area. The smaller the space, the more challenging it will be for the players as they are forced to make quicker decisions.
  • Added Challenge: add obstacles within the space to challenge the players further. Tires, cones, sticks, etc placed in the space make it harder to pass and skate around. As time goes on the added obstacles will help improve their reaction & decision making.

Activity # 1: Forward Skating

The goal of this activity is to get players warmed up and comfortable with skating forward to open space with the puck. They should be keeping their head up so they do not run into anyone or any obstacles that are out in the playing area. Players can work on their edges, control turns, mohawk turns, dekes, changing pace and whatever their creative minds (and coaches) can think of!

Activity # 2: Backward Skating

The goal of this second activity is to get players comfortable with skating backwards with the puck to open space. Since players are skating backward, it is crucial that all players keep their head up and look over their shoulders at all times.

Activity # 3: Forehand Only Puck Control

In this activity, players can only stickhandle with their forehand. This encourages players to move their body around the puck. This will help with puck protection along with changing passing and shooting angles. Continue to encourage players to keep head up and move to open space!

Activity # 4: Pass 1 Puck

Now that everyone is warmed up, this is where the fun begins. Encourage players to use verbal and non-verbal communication to pass 1 puck around between the group of players in the activity. Do not let players stand still and pass back and forth. Call out for constant movement and to skate to open space. When players receive the puck, they should take a stride or two, have their head up, and make a pass to an open teammate.

Activity # 5: Pass 2 Pucks

Here we go! With two pucks it is even more critical to keep your head up and communicate. It is important for all players to have an idea of where both pucks are so they can be ready to receive a pass and be ready to make a pass without passing to someone who already has a puck.

Activity # 6: Pass 3 Pucks

With three pucks it is important to read your teammates and anticipate what they are going to do with the puck. If you don't pay attention, you end up receiving a pass you are not ready for, or you pass to someone who isn't looking.  Communicate verbally, pay close attention and read body language! 

Activity # 7: Pass 4 Pucks

This could be the hardest of all of the activities. It is important to stress patience with the puck in this round. If players do not pay attention they end up all passing to the one open player at once.  Keep your head up, be patient and pass when your teammate is ready to receive your pass. Do not rush. If you are the only player without a puck, make it clear with verbal communication who you want the puck from.

Activity # 8: Pass 5 Pucks

With 5 pucks (or 4 pucks with 4 people) it is important to communicate with eye contact and verbal queues. Do not attempt rink-wide or long passes at first. Short and subtle drop passes and slides work excellent in this activity.

Activity # 9: 4 vs 1

Now that everyone has been challenged with passing multiple pucks, it should be extremely easy to pass one puck and keep it away from a defender. Use all of the lessons learned above (moving to space, verbal and non-verbal communication) to make sure that the defender does not have a chance to touch the puck.

Activity # 10: 3 vs 2

3 on 2 will be an increasing challenge to play keep away, but with patience, puck protection and communication, the defenders should still not be able to get the puck.  

Added Competitive Challenge:

  • Group Challenge: After the group gets comfortable with the exercises, you can add a natural element of competition between the groups by counting the number of successful passes made in the passing activities. Or you can count the number of successful passes made in a row. Either of these can be a fun way to get each group to work harder by having them compete with each other and focus on getting open and making a good pass.
  • With a Goalie: when you are playing 4 on 1 or 3 on 2, if the team makes 5 passes in a row you can allow them to shoot on a goalie.

Coaching Points: 

  • Encourage players to always move to open space on the ice. Do not allow them to stand still and pass the puck back and forth.
  • Encourage verbal communication (calling teammate by name, saying you are open, etc).
  • Encourage non-verbal communication (good eye contact, showing a passing target, tapping a stick, etc).
  • Allow players to make mistakes. It will take time to get comfortable with these activities. But as time goes on you will see them picking their head up to make a decision, which is the goal of this progression.

If you are interested in more hockey activities which require more decision making, reading, and reacting then please check out this article which discusses 11 Activities for Youth Hockey Practice.

Related Content

Length of Time: 
10 minutes
Station Number: 
Warm Up
Coach's Notes: 

The following variations:

  • Foreward skating with puck
  • Backward skating with puck
  • Forehand only puck control
  • Pass 1 puck
  • Pass 2 pucks

This game is the same as Corner Tires 2 vs 2 that is played in 1/4 ice station. The only difference is that this is 3 vs 3 played owithin a slightly larger area using an entire zone.

Setup

Place four tires in a rectangle so that they line up with the dots (as shown in the diagram). The coach has the pucks in the middle along the edge of the zone with the players split into two teams on each side.

Objective

Players score by hitting one of the tires in their opponents end with the puck. Shifts should last for 60 - 90 seconds.

Credit: Diagram and animation produced using Hockey Coach Vision.

Length of Time: 
15 minutes
Station Number: 
1

This is a basic 2 on 2 game that can be set up in the neutral zone. Split up the players into two teams and have them line up along the dots as shown. The coaches can have the pucks on both sides in the middle. On the whistle two players from each team go into the center circle and the coach plays a puck into the circle. The four players play 2 on 2. When a goal is scored, the puck is frozen, or the puck goes out of play then the coach plays a new puck into the center circle. On the next whistle the players exit the playing area and two new players from each team enter. Player along the outside can help keep pucks in play by bumping them back to the inside.

To work in tight spaces the nets can be brought very close together or they can be spread out a little bit to give players more space.

Length of Time: 
15 minutes
Station Number: 
2
Bourque 3 on 3

This 3 on 3 cross ice game is similar to the Gretzky 3 on 3 but now the designated passers are referred to as "Bourque". The "Bourque" is now behind their own goal line and must initiate breakout passes. The nets should be placed a bit closer to the boards to allow more room for executing breakouts.

  • Players must use their "Bourque" on a change of possession before making an attempt to score.
  • Players may attack the other team's "Bourque" but they may not shadow them.
  • There is no limit to how often a team uses their "Bourque".
  • Shifts should be 30 - 40 seconds to keep a good pace and high intensity.

Key points of emphasis:

  • Have the "Bourque" work on a good first pass.
  • Use "false Information" (looking off the pass) to get their players open.
  • Players need to skate back to support their "Bourque".
  • Fill three lanes and skate to open ice.
Length of Time: 
15 minutes
Station Number: 
3