U10 - U12 Puck Support Stations
U10 - U12 Puck Support Stations
Please Note: The Practice of the Week is designed to be utilized across multiple age levels. With that being said, we highly encourage you to adjust the drills based on your team's age and skill levels. These drills and practices can be modified to become more basic or more advanced.
The drills and games in this practice are designed to help your players work on very basic elements of puck support
The 3 Key Focus Points
- Finding Open Ice - encourage players to find open ice and create passing lanes for their teammates
- Communication - encourage your players to use verbal and non-verbal communication to let their teammates know they are open
- Exchanges/Switches - try to get your players to work on some basic exchanges/switches and show them how it creates time and space
- Simple warm-up
- Run 4 stations - 10 to 12 mins each depending on ice time
- Save time for The Gretzky Switch Game at the end
- Play as 3 v 3 in the middle of the ice with 1 "Gretzky" behind each net (8 skaters total)
Puck Support Drills for Higher Age Levels
- 3 Regroup 3 v 2 Drill
- Laker 3 Puck
- 2 on 2 Continuous Transition
- Billy Purcell Breakout
- Quick Start Continuous Outlet
- Off The Wall - Neutral Zone Exchange
Gates of Buffalo Small Area Passing Game
The major concept of the Gates of Buffalo Small Area Hockey Game is to practice moving to open space, communicating verbally and non-verbally with teammates, so they can score Goals by passing through Gates.
This game framework will help players learn to play with their head up, communicate with teammates and move to open space.
As a coach, 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.
- Score as many goals as possible by passing through the "Gates."
- You can not pass through the same gate twice in a row!
SETUP & ACTIVITY VARIABLES
- Players: great for 3, 4 or 5 players at a time.
- Time: You can rotate through groups of players in 30, 45 or 60 second shifts and count how many goals are scored.
- Or you can set a number of goals (let's use 5 for example) and stop the watch after 5 goals are completed.
- 5 players can be participating in the activity, while another 5 rest. Blow the whistle and the next 5 jump in. It gets fun when the teams compete against each other!
- 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, defenceman, etc placed in the space will make it harder to pass and skate around. As time goes on the added obstacles will help improve their reaction & decision making.
- Group Competition: 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 goals made in the specified amount of time.
- Or you can time each group and see how fast they can complete 5 (or any other number) goals. You will marvel at how the natural element of competition between groups will make the game more intense, competitive and fun!
- With a Goalie: You can require the players to make 2 (or more) passes through a gate before they can shoot on net. After they shoot on net, they need to make the required number of passes through the gates again.
- Pucks: You can add in 2 or more pucks at a time to make players pay more attention to the game and their surroundings.
- Gates: You can add 3 or more gates. They can be made of tires, cones, pucks and other materials. Change up the sizes of the gates for an extra challenge. The smaller the gate, the more challenging the game is!
- 3 vs 3 Game: You can setup gates and make the game 3 v 3, 3 vs 2, or 3 vs 1 so there is another team working to prevent scoring on the gates. Adding additional players for the team to play against will give the game a whole new spin. View a video demo of the 3 vs 3 game setup.
Setup Suggestions for Elite Players
- Make the gates much smaller.
- You can add a hockey stick at the bottom of each gate so players must "sauce" through a gate and over the stick for the point.
- Add various obstacles on the ice such as sticks that players must be aware of and pass around or sauce over.
- For extra fun, add a defenceman. Or play 3 vs 2 or 3 vs 3.
- If you have a goalie, require 2 or more passes through the gates before players are allowed to take a shot on net.
- 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 players to find "passing lanes" to allow good passes.
- This skill is extremely valuable for youth players to work on. Finding passing lanes when you have the puck and jumping to open space when you don't have the puck so your teammate can pass to you is extremely beneficial during games.
- 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 small area game.
Why do we call this small area game "Gates of Buffalo?" The game has been called "gates" in the world of soccer and we decided to add Buffalo to it for two fun reasons: First, IHS has strong ties to Buffalo, NY. Secondly, the imagery of a Buffalo can help drive home to your youth players why you are practicing this game. If you do not pick your head up and use your teammates while playing the game of hockey, you run the risk of getting trampled by the other team. This can feel like getting run over by a Buffalo (physically or on the scoreboard). This game helps prevent both of those situations by forcing players to keep their head up while communicating and working with teammates to score goals.
3 vs. 1 Keep Away Game
The 3 vs. 1 Keep Away Game is as simple as it sounds but the fundamentals and habits players learn while playing this game are extremely valuable.
Keeping your head up, stick on the ice, moving to open space and communicating with your teammates will lead to success.
- 3 players work to keep the puck from 1 defender.
- Defense gets a point for stripping the puck and skating it out of the playing area, or if the puck goes out of play.
- Offense gets a point if they can keep possession of the puck until the coach blows the whistle.
Offensive Coaching Points:
- Head up!
- Stick on the ice to give your teammate a target.
- Poise when you have the puck. This takes practice! It is ok if you try new moves and make mistakes.
- Move to open space without the puck.
- Communicate verbally and non-verbally with your teammates.
- If you have the puck, use deception or false information (fake passes, no looks, skates & hips pointed opposite direction, etc) to get the defender to commit or open up.
Defensive Coaching Points:
- Stick on the ice at all times (so you can block passing lanes, pick off passes or angle players to go in a certain way).
- You are at a disadvantage in this game. Be smart about your movements. Do not chase and swing stick out of control.
- Can be 2 v 1, 3 v 1, 3 v 2, 4 v 1, 4 v 2 or you can make it more challenging for the offense by going 2 v 3, 2 v 4.
- Can make the playing size smaller or larger.
- Can require forwards to get a certain number of passes to end game or keep possession of the puck for a certain amount of time to win the game. Time can be anywhere from 15 - 45 seconds. Can also keep track of how many passes are made during 30 seconds.
- If you have a goalie, require the forwards to make 3, 4 or 5 passes before they can shoot on net. If the defense strips the puck, allow them to take a shot on net. The goalie can work on tracking the puck during the passes.
Decision Time 2 on 1
This drill works on decision making in a 2 on 1 situation. The drill is great for station based or ADM type practices as it requires only one quarter of the ice, but you can make it a half ice drill if you go out of both sides at the same time.
Place two lines of players as shown in the diagram and place a border or obstacle just inside the blue slightly higher than the top of the circle. A coach should be placed at about the dot.
The drill starts with P1 carrying a puck straight ahead into the zone and then making a sharp cut towards the middle in front of the pad. Player two also skates straight ahead and then makes a sharp cut towards Player 1 to receive a drop pass. Player 2 will receive the drop pass, go around the pad, and then make a decision to pass or keep the puck based on the coaches action. If the coach pressures Player 2 then they pass the puck. If the coach takes away the pass then player 2 carries the puck and shoots on net.
- Players should make sharp turns so they are moving horizontally across the ice when making the drop pass.
- Drop pass should be to Player 2's forehand.
- Player 2 needs to have eyes on coach to read the situation.
- Make sure both players stop at net for rebound.
- Coach playing defense can be switched to be a player.
- You can allow the defense to be fully active.
- You can turn it into a 2 vs 2 with a backchecker (shown in video example).
Offense to Defense 2 on 2
This 2 on 2 drill us typically used for station or ADM based practices and played in a smaller area. The animation and diagram show this being run using a quarter if the ice. It can also be run using half ice and is more suited for older players when you can use half ice.
- Start the drill with two players on defense facing the two opposing offensive players.
- The coach starts the drill by giving a pass to one of the offensive players. The two offensive players will attack the defenders and play 2 on 2 below the blue line.
- If the offensive players score then the coach plays a new puck into the zone and the play continues.
- The defenders must get possession of the puck and make a tape to tape pass to one of the next offensive players in line. Once they do that they go to the back of the line.
- The players that were on offense now become the defenders and they play 2 on 2 against the two new offensive players until they can make a tape to tape pass to the next two players. If the defenders do not make a good tape to tape pass to the next players in line then the coach plays a new puck into the zone and they must keep playing. This prevents them from just throwing the puck out of the zone.
- Keep score! Forwards get 2 points for a goal and defense gets 1 point for clearing the puck. This game is continuous.
- The defense will be tired since they will be "double shifting." Encourage good positioning and stick on the ice.
- Fowards should try to isolate one defender and create a 2 on 1 instead of attacking the 2 on 2.
- Defenders should be aware of player without the puck and communicate to which player they have.
- Defenders need to control puck even if they have to pass to each other before making pass to next set of forwards.
- Both teams should not be afraid to hold on to the puck, and protect it until they are able to make a play.
- Both teams should work on verbal & non-verbal communication with their partner.
- Compete to score points for your team! Celebrate points!
Gretzky 2 V 2 Switch Game
The Gretzky 2 vs. 2 Switch game from Kendall Coyne Schofield is a great small area game that has a modification to the normal Gretzky 2 v 2 Game: the "Gretzky" behind the net can switch with active players at any point, so long as at least one player is behind the goal line. This modification allows more options for player to create offense and encourages exchanges and switches.
- In a half ice setup, place two nets facing each other in opposite face off circles.
- Have a 2 vs. 2 in the middle of the ice.
- Each team has 1 player behind the net in their offensive zone. They can not go in front of the net unless one of their 2 teammates activates a switch
- To start, coach can pass a puck, take a shot on net, or chip it in the middle of the ice for a battle.
- Keep score!
- Offensive players:
- Players in the middle of the ice: work on give and go's and exchanges with your teammates and your "Gretzky"
- Players behind the net: know where you want to pass to before you get the puck. Use the net as protection and get creative. Communicate with your teammates on opportunities you can create through switches
- Defensive players:
- Head on a swivel and know where all of the players are.
- Keep stick on ice to block passing lanes.
- Can be 2v2 or 3v3 in the middle of the ice
- Can allow 2 "Gretzky's"
- Can require players to only hold the puck for 1 or 2 seconds or a whistle is blown