Given the fast-paced nature of their sport, good hockey athletes are able to respond instantly to changes in their environment. Players are required to quickly shift focus from narrow to broad, a skill that is not easy to master. Refine this vital skill with the following drill, designed to improve puck handling, reinforce the value of being in position and sharpen your focus, all while having fun.
Shifting Scrimmage Drill
First, a little prep work. Paint five hockey pucks, each a different bright color, and place them in various locations, one at center ice. Divide your team for a scrimmage and begin with a faceoff at center ice. After two or three minutes, coach blows a whistle and calls out a different puck color. This becomes the new puck in play. Keep changing colored pucks, as frequently as you like, until the scrimmage has run for about 20 minutes.
This drill simulates how quickly a game can change direction. Coaches, keep an eye out for, or even create, teachable moments. For example, if a player is out of position, put a new puck in play where he or she can take control. Freeze the play and explain why the player was unable to get to the previous puck and where he or she should have been positioned. The emphasis is on teaching how quickly the game can change direction and why positioning is critical.
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