Drills For Mites
Half-ice hockey drills are some of the most productive training exercises for youth hockey players. Whether you’re coaching them about skating basics or advanced stickhandling maneuvers, it’s essential to go over these drills as much as possible. After all, practice makes perfect.
The best half-ice hockey drills for mites and other youth players include quad passing, agility races, attack drills, cycle support for passing, and run ragged small area games. Do these drills in sequence to ensure that your players are on the same page. Incorporate cones and get-up drills as needed.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following information about half-ice hockey drills for youth players:
- Different techniques to keep your team game-ready
- The benefits of each drill for your players
- Details about how they can perform all of the training sessions
The quad passing warm-up drill is a fun, easy way to get youth players passing quickly. They don’t need any special equipment other than skates, hockey sticks, and a puck. Try to do this drill at the start of practice right after stretching.
If you want to teach your youth players how to pass like pros, read on for the procedure.
- Line four players around one of the face-off circles. They should be spread evenly, so they’re all opposite of one another. As the drill goes on, you can have some of the players adjust or swap with others for a new angle. The goal is to ensure that they’re passing near and far.
- Start by having one player pass it to the opposite side of the circle. The first player with the puck should pass it to the player across from them. It can be a quick pass, dump pass, or whichever method they need to work on. Ensure that they’re positioning their body correctly to prevent subtle movements when they pass.
- Have the first passer shoot it left to a teammate, then right. Once they’re able to pass back and forth smoothly, have the first skater pass it to the person to their left. The person should immediately pass it back. Repeat the process to the right and have a new skater start with the puck.
- Gradually increase the speed as they go along. Once they understand the basics of the quad passing warm-up drill, try incorporating different passes, such as a saucer pass, to improve their skills. They should also increase the speed of puck handling, adjusting, and passing as quickly as possible.
- Consider adding more players to the face-off circle. If you want to make things more interesting, bring in one to two more players. They can either be participants or sit in the middle of the circle to try to disrupt the passing. This process will allow your youth players to learn live game passing skills.
- Players will learn how to pass faster and more accurately. As mentioned by Weiss Tech Hockey, youth players can learn how to shoot and pass around opposing players. They’ll also learn how to retrieve the puck after a pass, turn properly, and pass to a nearby teammate seamlessly.
- They’ll learn to adapt to the playstyle of their teammates. Every player has their own unique style that changes with the way they skate, handle the puck, shoot, and pass. Chemistry is the best way that players can learn to win together, so this drill is essential.
- Puck handling basics are covered in this drill. Players will know how to get the puck after dealing with a variety of passing methods. They’ll also learn how to handle the puck and their stick on the fly.
Agility skills are some of the most essential parts of playing hockey at any level. Pros and beginners alike will need to know how to move quickly, especially in a live game scenario. Fortunately, that’s precisely what the agility race around sticks teaches.
Here is how you can coach your mites to try this drill:
- Place cones five to ten feet apart in a straight line. The goal is to make the cones easy to skate around at first. Your players should be able to weave in and out without much of a challenge. It’ll separate the experienced players from the beginners, revealing who needs more assistance.
- Have your players skate in and out of the cones smoothly. One by one, let your players go through the cones. They should move around the first cone to the left, then the right, and so on. The further the cones are from one another, the easier it should be for your players to do.
- Move the cones closer to one another. As you read above, the cones should be easy to skate around when they’re 10 feet apart or more. Increase the challenge by bringing the cones a couple of feet closer. Don’t make too big of a difference; You should try to find that sweet spot that all of your players can finish easily.
- Add more cones in different directions around the half rink. Place a couple of cones on both sides of the agility course. This process will force them to move far to the left or right, then dip back in line with the rest of the cones. They’ll know how to move much quicker when they have to weave back.
- Give each player a puck to handle while performing the drill. Once they get everything down with the weaving and skating, give them a puck. They’ll have to move the stick, their skates, and the puck while avoiding each of the cones. Consider simplifying the course before adding the puck.
- Players will learn how to avoid in-game collisions. Since they already know how to get around cones, they won’t have to worry about running into other players. They’ll be able to keep their eyes on the puck without crashing or losing control.
- They’ll find out how to take sharp and wide turns. Turning is obviously a crucial part of hockey, including when they have to move around the back of the net. If you want your players to advance their skating skills, this drill should be at the top of your list.
- Puck handling in high-traffic situations will improve. After you’ve completed the fifth step of the drill, your players will be able to weave in and out of traffic while maintaining control of the puck. They can keep the pressure on opposing players while moving at a high speed.
The inside to outside attack drill is one of the simplest, most effective drills available. If you want to improve your team’s shooting skills while keeping your goalie ready to go, then you should incorporate this setup right after the agility race. USA Hockey mentions that drills like these take your team to the next level.
Let’s review the step-by-step process below.
- Place two players in one face-off circle, two players on the opposite circle, and one between them. Ensure that they’re evenly spaced, so they have enough room to receive the puck and shoot it quickly. They shouldn’t have to worry about bumping into other players or missing a shot.
- Have one player shoot at the goal, then let the goalie pass it to a random player. The first few shots should be slow and smooth, but make sure that the goalie chooses a different player every time. The player shouldn’t be a predictable choice since the goal is to be a surprise every time.
- Increase the speed as they go along. Once they get the hang of the flow of shooting and receiving passes from the goalie, tell them to shoot faster. The goalie needs to pass it back quickly as well, deflecting the puck to a new player if possible.
- Consider allowing the center player to move around. The middle skater should be able to intercept the puck for quicker shots to keep the goalie on their toes. They can move around the back of the net, pass to other players, or take shots at the goalie if they please.
- Add players to work with the goalie. One to two new players should skate in front of the goalie, aiding them with blocks, deflected shots, and interceptions in the middle of the drill. Don’t add too many players, though; It should feel like a power play rather than a typical scrimmage.
- This drill allows your goalie to block shots, work with teammates, and practice puck handling. In-game scenarios won’t allow them to feel comfortable with one-on-one shooting, so it’s essential that they experience an unpredictable drill.
- Each lineup will build chemistry with one another. If you have multiple lineups for your team, then they’ll start to know how other teammates play, when they’ll pass, how they shoot, and so on.
- Players will learn how to shoot at different areas of the net. There are five main holes on a hockey net. You could tell your players to focus on a specific hole to get them familiarized with each location.
The cycle support drill is designed to keep your goalie guessing while promoting better skating, passing, and shooting skills. It’s one of the few drills that mimic in-game situations that all of the players will benefit from at the same time. Ice Hockey Systems ranks it among one of the best drills for teamwork.
Without further ado, here is how you and your team can perform the cycle support drill:
- Have three skaters on one of the face-off circles and a goalie at the net. Each player should be spaced evenly to keep the drill going smoothly. If everyone is where they should be, there’s no end to the drill. It can run continuously until the players are too tired to keep going.
- Allow each player to skate around the circle, then past the far end of the net. It should work in a clockwise motion. The player in the front of the pack should go around the face-off circle, then wrap around the far end of the net, arriving back at the circle that they started on.
- Each place should take turns shooting at the goal as they skate by. Once everyone is comfortable with the cycle, add a puck for them to shoot. The player in the front of the pack should shoot while they’re right in front of the goalie net. The goal should toss it back to the center where the next player can take a shot.
- Add one to two more pucks to the drill. A total of three pucks should be used when everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing. If your goalie misses a few blocks, that’s okay. Have them deflect shots and pass the netted pucks back to the center of the ice for more players to shoot.
- Consider bringing additional skaters. There shouldn’t be more than five to six players to avoid cluttering the ice. Again, your goal should be that they do their best to block the shots, but it’s expected that they’ll miss a few. With so many skaters, it’s hard for them to keep up with the pace.
- Your goalie will be forced into a fast-paced scenario. As the pucks come by, they’ll have to block, deflect, or pass them back to the center. They’ll be more than ready when one to two opponents are taking shots, especially if they’re on a breakaway.
- Skaters can practice shooting on the move. Stand-still shooting is easy when you know the basics of hockey, but shooting while skating is more challenging for many youth players. This drill allows them to understand what it feels like without having to worry about making mistakes.
- Every skater will learn how to turn quickly around the net, receive a pass, and keep skating. Since there’s little time for waiting around, it keeps them moving and adjusting their skills. Whether they miss or make a goal, they’ll need to adapt to the drill because it takes less than 20 seconds for a rotation.
Last but not least is the small area game. Think of this drill as a culmination of all of the other drills. Once they’ve learned how to pass, skate faster, and work with teammates, you can teach them this useful minigame.
This is how mites can learn the small area game:
- Place a goalie on either side of the half rink. The goals should be on the left and right side of the half rink, so there won’t be one in the traditional location. This setup ensures a wider distance to allow the mini-game to have more room. Make sure that the goals are out far enough to let skaters go behind the net.
- Have one goalie in each net and four skaters in the middle. There should be a goalie for each team and two players on either side. The players should stand opposite of each other until the game starts. Consider placing cones in the center to label it as a starting point for all four skaters.
- Play a regular scrimmage game for five minutes, then switch to a whole new set of players. This step is relatively simple; Your players should do their best to skate, take shots, and win the game. Whether they score or not, cycle out the center players with new skaters. The goalies usually stay in place since most teams only have a couple.
- This drill shows in-game scenarios to keep the players prepared. Goalies will be able to block pucks, but the distance is cut in half so that they won’t have as much time. Skaters will be able to shoot and pass while dealing with opposing players trying to take it away from them.
- As the coach, you’ll be able to decide which players work best together. You can create your lineups from this game. It also allows you to know which goalie is better to be a first string and second string. Finally, it enables the coach to determine which players are best during power plays and low-skater plays (3-on-3, 4-on-4, and so on).
Half-ice hockey drills are an excellent way to teach mites and youth players how to advance their hockey skills. They’ll learn the value of teamwork, agility skating, puck handling, stick control, goaltending, and more. Furthermore, they’ll be prepared for live-action games and cluttered skating environments.
The best way to teach and perform these drills is in the sequence they were presented. Start with simple passing drills, then head onto agility skating, shooting practice, cycle support drills, and mini-games. Some players will take longer to teach than others, but they’ll be able to hone their skills as a team.
- USA Hockey - Practice Plans
- How to Hockey - MITE / INITIATION HOCKEY DRILLS OMHA
- Ice Hockey Systems - RUN RAGGED SMALL AREA GAME
- Sports Engine - Creating a Challenging Mite Program
- Weiss Tech Hockey - 9 HALF-ICE HOCKEY DRILLS EVERY COACH SHOULD KNOW ABOUT