Ice hockey practices must have a combination of skill development, game situations and repetition to develop well-rounded players. When putting together a practice plan, try incorporating flow drills that simultaneously work on these three factors. (See Nail Yakupov's on-ice practice.)
2-on-1 to 4-on-2 Drill
- Teaches players how to properly perform a 2-on-1 or 4-on-2 (which should be set up as a 3-on-2)
- Teaches players to find the trailing man on a rush or broken play
- Full-ice drills offer game-like conditioning
- Start with left and right wingers in a corner with pucks, centers in the opposite corner with pucks and a line of defensemen at center ice.
- One defenseman will step out to the blue line facing the two wingers.
- The wingers will start the drill by rushing down the ice on a 2-on-1 against the opposing defenseman.
- When the wingers pass the red line, two defensemen will follow the play and stop on the blue line.
- The 2-on-1 will continue until either a goal is scored, a save is made or the play is broken up.
- On a whistle, the center will leave the corner and form a 4-on-2 rush with the two wingers and the first defenseman against the second two defensemen who stepped onto the blue line. Although it's a 4-on-2, the three forwards should perform it as a 3-on-2.
- The group will rush down the ice and play until a double whistle is blown to signal the end of the drill. All players go back to their original lines.
- Make sure players are moving the puck through the neutral zone by quickly passing, weaving or changing lanes.
- Players should not attack the net next to each other. The player without the puck should either attack the net with his stick on the ice, or hang back in the slot for a shot.
- The forward attacking with the puck should shoot for a rebound or make a direct pass, unless he has a clear shot on net.
- The defenseman should hold the middle of the ice and communicate with the goalie whether he has the "man" (i.e., the skater without the puck) or the shooter. In a 2-on-1 situation, it's best to always take the "man."
- Make sure the forwards use the defenseman as a trailer during the 3-on-2. Defensemen can be great pass outlets, especially if the oppositions defensemen are sagging on the rush.
- As the puck comes into the offensive zone, the forward with the puck should look to pull up by using a "Gretzky Turn" escape (i.e., turning toward the boards), while the other two forwards drive the net. At this point, a pass can be made to the trailing defenseman who can either shoot or return the pass for a one-time shot.
- The defensemen defending the net should hold the middle of the ice and play inside the dots. If the opportunity presents itself, the defensemen should shut the play down by the blue line.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock